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A new national law in the US, which will give organic produce a stamp of approval from the US Department of Agriculture, is encouraging major US food companies to enter the organic sector.

US food giants such as Heinz, General Mills and Frito-Lay are getting involved in the organic market to make the most of the new law, which identifies food items with no GM material, no irradiation and few, if any, chemicals used in their manufacture.

The new law is due to come into effect on 21 October 2002.

Smaller organic producers are concerned that they may lose out to the major companies, which may sell organic products for lower prices than small companies can afford to compete with.

Major food companies are hoping to cash in on the growth in the organic sector. Last year consumers in the US spent US$11bn on organic foods, reported the Associated Press.