POLL: PUBLIC CONFUSED ON ORGANIC LABELING

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture's proposed rules for labeling organic food products could seriously mislead consumers, according to poll released last week.l was conducted by International Communications Research, Media, Pa., for the National Center for Public Policy Research, a Washington-based organization that describes itself as a "conservative/free market foundation."According

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture's proposed rules for labeling organic food products could seriously mislead consumers, according to poll released last week.

l was conducted by International Communications Research, Media, Pa., for the National Center for Public Policy Research, a Washington-based organization that describes itself as a "conservative/free market foundation."

According to the survey, 68% of the public said they would interpret a certified organic label to mean a product was safer to eat than non-organic foods, 67% said they believed a product so labeled to be better than non-organic foods, and 62% said they believed a product so labeled to be healthier for consumers than non-organic foods.

"Neither organic nor conventional producers are served by misleading the public over such important issues of food safety and nutrition," said a National Center for Public Policy Research spokesman. "A level playing field for organic growers can only exist if consumer are informed about the real benefits and risks of purchasing organically certified products."