Is it ORGANIC?
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Is it Organic?
In his report for the Frontier Centre, Mr. Popoff said the organic industry doesn’t do enough to test for the fertilizers and additives in meat and crops.
If consumers are put off by the knowledge that their organic staples are not perfectly pure, Mr. Popoff said, the industry has only itself to blame. The organic industry has built its brand by inculcating fear of foods containing minute traces of contaminants, although there is no evidence that genetically modified organisms are in any way dangerous, he said.
The irony of the situation, Mr. Popoff added, is that genetically modified foods could provide an viable alternative to pesticides.
“It’s the activists. They’re dead set opposed to biotechnology, the very concept of technology,” he said.
Jen Gerson, "‘We’re farming in a polluted world’: Even organic foods are not GMO-free, industry leaders say" National Post, Feb 13, 2013.
The San Diego Free Press says...
Suffice it to say that standards for organic foods are mind bogglingly lax, especially in Canada. Since Canada has a free trade agreement with the US for the importation of organic foods, these foods from Canada and imports into Canada from other countries can wind up on US store shelves labeled organic. While consumers pay a premium for organic foods, are they really getting what they pay for? God only knows. Standards need to be upgraded in both Canada and the US. The incentive for collusion between farmers and certifiers needs to be eliminated, and field testing needs to be rigorously enforced or, in the case of Canada, instituted.
(Copyright 2013, San Diego Free Press)
See John Lawrence, "Is Organic Food Really Organic?" San Diego Free Press, January 1, 2013.
In response to the organic industry’s growth, Canada enacted a labelling requirement: Since 2009, products making an organic claim must be certified by an agency accredited by the Canada Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).
Not included in that process, however, is mandatory laboratory testing of products that could ensure organic-labelled food is actually farmed without pesticides, leaving the organics industry in the hands of the honour system.
“It amounts to little more than an extortion racket, one that the greediest of mafiosi would envy,” write Mischa Popoff and Patrick Moore in their report released this month by the Winnipeg-based, free-market-friendly think-tank.
The organic certification industry’s “dirty little secret,” they write, is that “organic crops and livestock are not tested in Canada before they are certified, thus making organic certification essentially meaningless.”
(Copyright 2012, The National Post)
For Adrian Humphreys' full article, "Canada’s organic food certification system ‘little more than an extortion racket,’" in The National Post, click here.
Respected Western Canadian Ag journalist Kevin Hursh, hits the nail square on the head.
Mischa Popoff, an organic crop inspector based in Osoyoos, B.C., is advancing a proposal for fixing organic certification and his views have generated some national media attention.Popoff says more is needed than just the current written records with auditors who simply look at the paper trail. He proposes that organic crops be randomly tested in the field to ensure that no herbicides have been applied.Organic producers face mountains of paperwork, but the system is largely ineffective in controlling fraud and negligence. Popoff claims the vast majority of independent organic farmers follow the rules and he says there's a great deal of support for the concept of random crop testing so that the industry has a greater scientific basis.In many cases, scientific analysis can't tell the difference between organic and conventional products. Wheat or flax sprayed early in the growing season for weed control will show no evidence of that herbicide by harvest time. However, plant samples can be tested in the middle of the growing season to help ensure organic practices are actually being followed. Without at least random testing, Popoff and others believe organic farming will lose credibility with consumers.
(Copyright 2008, The StarPhoenix)
For Kevin's full article, "Agriculture faces increasing consumer scrutiny", in the Saskatoon StarPhoenix, click here.
Bill Alpert, Senior Editor at Barron’s Weekly, also had the guts to hit the nail square on the head.
Many consumers think organic food has been tested for pesticides. But organic certifiers spend most of their time shuffling papers and auditing the files of farmers for records indicating that forbidden chemicals weren't used. Inspectors are typically free-lancers who receive a couple of hundred bucks for visiting a farm.
Mischa Popoff of British Columbia, Canada, was one of those inspectors. He visited hundreds of farms on behalf of organic certifiers and believes most of the farmers were credibly organic. But Popoff was frustrated when he'd see farms whose "organic" fields were as green and pest free as their conventional fields. One farmer's garage hid gallons of the herbicide Roundup. When Popoff made a fuss about these suspicious findings, he ... was blacklisted by some certification outfits.
Conscientious farmers go to a lot of trouble to be organic, so they worry about competing with cheaters who just want the price premiums that an organic label can command. Popoff argues that routine pesticide tests could catch cheaters, the way that drug tests snare doped athletes. But in the 1990s when the organic industry was helping to draft the federal law on organic labelling, the industry considered and rejected a requirement that organic food be residue-tested.
(Copyright 2007 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.)
For Bill's full article, "Do-Gooders Who Could Do Better" in Barron's click here.
For consultations or expert testimony, please visit my new website:
Mischa Popoff, B.A. (Hons.) U. of S. and USDA-contract IOIA Organic Inspector
Policy Advisor for The Heartland Institute
Research Associate for The Frontier Centre for Public Policy
Is it Organic?