[Market-farming] Fwd: NY Times organics editorial

Leigh Hauter bullrun at arczip.com
Fri Nov 4 17:48:16 EST 2005

>November 4, 2005
>An Organic Drift
>Organic food has become a very big business, with a 20 percent annual 
>growth rate in sales in recent years. But popularity has come at a 
>price. Ever since 2002, when the Department of Agriculture began its 
>program of national organic certification, there has been a steady 
>lobbying effort to weaken standards in a way that makes it easier for 
>the giant food companies, which often use synthetic substances in 
>processing, to enter the organic market.
>That's exactly why many organic farmers greeted the U.S.D.A.'s 
>organic seal with real trepidation. They know that the one thing the 
>department has always done especially well is to capitulate to the 
>lobbying pressure of big food and big agriculture.
>Last week, an amendment was slipped into the agricultural spending 
>bill without meaningful debate in a closed-door Republican meeting. 
>It would do two things. It would overturn a court decision 
>reinstating the old legal standard that prohibits synthetic 
>substances in organic foods. And it would allow the agriculture 
>secretary to approve synthetic substances if no organic substitute 
>was commercially available.
>In part, this is a battle over a label. The big producers, which 
>often use synthetic materials in processing, want to call their 
>processed foods organic because that designation commands premium 
>prices. They do not want to say their products are made with organic 
>ingredients - a lesser designation that allows more synthetics. This 
>is also a cultural battle, a struggle between the people who have 
>long kept the organic faith - despite the historic neglect of the 
>U.S.D.A. - and industry giants that see a rapidly expanding and 
>highly profitable niche that can be pried open even further with 
>"Organic" is not merely a label, a variable seal of approval at the 
>end of the processing chain. It means a way of raising crops and 
>livestock that is better for the soil, the animals, the farmers and 
>the consumers themselves - a radical change, in other words, from 
>conventional agriculture. Unless consumers can be certain that those 
>standards are strictly upheld, "organic" will become meaningless.
>Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

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