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Byline: Elizabeth Lee
Oct. 21--After more than a decade of deliberation, national standards that control how organic food is produced take effect today.
Consumers already are seeing the effect in a flood of new organic products, including Heinz ketchup, Starbucks coffee, Odwalla juices, Tyson chicken and a private-label line from Whole Foods Market. The market for organic foods, nearly $10 billion a year, is predicted to grow 20 percent annually because of greater distribution in mainstream supermarkets and an affluent, aging population concerned about its health.
For shoppers confused by food labels ranging from "natural" to "hormone-free" to "produced by organic methods," the standards provide a clear definition of what organic means. Among other things, they say that food cannot be grown with petroleum or sewage sludge-based fertilizers, synthetic pesticides, irradiation, bioengineered organisms, growth hormones and antibiotics.
For the agri-giants that have begun tapping into this rapidly growing market by …