Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Without certification, when companies label food as organic it doesn't make it so, writer says

Some corporations that have long-battled organic products are now embracing them but "without really adhering to the laws and regulations that are supposed to govern organic production," Richard Oswald writes for the Daily Yonder. "They get away with it because government doesn’t enforce the rules, according to a legal complaint." (Cornucopia Institute photo: Herbruck’s Poultry Green Meadows egg production facility, which accounts for 60 percent of all eggs produced in Michigan, claims their eggs are organic because the chickens have access to "porches.")

"The basic principle of organic farming is clear and based on integrity," Oswald writes. "That’s the way most farmers view what they do. But integrity has to be backed up with a trust-but-verify philosophy." That's why earning organic certification is so important. It's a difficult and lengthy process but one that ensures consumers that the product "called" organic really is organic.

"That soil cannot be contaminated with unapproved pesticides or fertilizers, the rules say," Oswald writes. "Records must be kept to show that no unapproved inputs are used in production of organic crops and livestock. All organic products must be segregated in their own storage areas well away from non-organic crops, along with plenty of other rules dedicated to keeping the whole thing pure."

"One of the ways big business has tried to enter their own organic products into the market has been through liberalizing rules as they apply to organic food and weakening inspections," Oswald writes. "Another way is by sourcing organic foods from opaque foreign countries, like China, where it’s difficult to know anything at all about products called organic."

"In the past, unfortunately, many food manufacturers and retailers have been more interested in applying the organic label to their products than actually delivering the reputable goods organic labels promote," Oswald writes. "And simply avoiding products from unreliable sources like China is made even more difficult for consumers thanks to labeling laws that big business has tried to keep to a minimum." (Read more)

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