[Market-farming] Fwd: NY Times organics editorial
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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