MEDIA ADVISORY: UC Santa Cruz experts available to discuss federal organic rules

On Monday, October 21, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's organic seal will appear for the first time on produce and consumer products in the United States. The final step in implementation of the USDA's National Organic Program, the seal will assure consumers that products meet new federal standards for organic production. The federal Organic Rule creates a uniform set of standards covering inputs and practices that farmers and food processors must follow to market their crop or product as "organic" in the U.S. The appearance in the marketplace of the USDA "organic" seal marks a recognition of the significance of organic production in U.S. agriculture.

For 35 years, the University of California, Santa Cruz, has been at the forefront of research, teaching, and outreach about sustainable agriculture generally and organic production specifically. The UCSC Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems (CASFS) is the first and only UC program dedicated to sustainable agriculture and food systems, including organic farming, gardening, and marketing practices. The following UCSC faculty and specialists are available to assist in your coverage of the new federal rules. If you have trouble reaching any of the individuals listed below, please contact Jennifer McNulty in the UCSC Public Information Office at (831) 459-4399 or via e-mail at

Dr. Carol Shennan

Director of CASFS and a professor of environmental studies, Shennan conducts research on both conventional and organic farming systems, with particular interest in soil fertility management, nutrient cycling, water quality, and agricultural and natural landscapes on California's Central Coast. She has also studied cropping systems in the Central Valley and northern California.

Contact: (831) 459-4540 or (831) 459-4181


Dr. Sean Swezey

Associate director of CASFS and farm extension specialist, Swezey has extensive experience studying alternative pest-control measures, particularly in farming systems undergoing conversion from conventional to organic practices. In partnership with growers, Swezey has helped develop organic growing practices in crops such as strawberries, apples, artichokes, and cotton. He has expertise in the new organic rule's materials requirements and is an adviser to the National Organic Board. Swezey also directs the UC Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program, based at UC Davis.

Contact (831) 332-6231


Dr. Patricia Allen

Associate director and issues specialist at CASFS, Allen studies social issues in sustainable agriculture and food systems. She has written extensively on "green consumerism" and the organic farming and food movement. She specializes in topics such as labor in both conventional and organic farming, food distribution, the scale of food production and processing, and support for local producers via community-supported agriculture, farmers' markets, and bioregional food labeling. She is particularly interested in how consumers' choices affect government policy as it relates to food production and food distribution.

Contact (831) 459-4243