Enforce rules against false and misleading organic claims

FDA must no longer let organic food growers, manufacturers and sellers get away with lies

Paul Driessen

A couple years ago, the US Food and Drug Administration sent a “Warning Letter” to Nashoba Brook Bakery, advising its owners that listing “love” as an ingredient in their granola violated the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. The product was “misbranded,” because “love” is “not a common or usual name of an ingredient,” FDA said. Such deceptive labeling practices could mislead consumers and are not allowed.

FDA has also warned and cited companies that make “unfounded,” “unproven” or “unsubstantiated” claims about their products. FDA is committed to “protecting the public health by taking action as needed against companies that deceive consumers.” It will not let companies say cannabidiol “has been linked to the effective treatment of Alzheimer’s disease,” if they don’t have solid evidence to back the claim up.

Claiming your product is better or more effective than a competitor’s is also “misleading” if there is “no evidence” to support the claim. Labels and advertising must be “truthful and not misleading” – or else.

FDA policies are equally clear in the arena of organic, conventional and biotech (genetically modified or engineered, GMO or GE) seeds, ingredients, products, manufacturing, distribution and sales. The agency’s published guidance states that “false or misleading” food labeling includes “the statement ‘none of the ingredients in this food is genetically engineered’ on a food where some of the ingredients are incapable of being produced through genetic engineering (e.g., salt).”

“GMO-free” claims, FDA says, can also be “false and misleading” if they imply that a certain food “is safer, more nutritious, or otherwise has different attributes than other comparable foods because the food was not genetically engineered.” Claiming a food is healthier or better tasting, because it’s organic, would fall under this guideline of “different attributes … because it was not genetically engineered.”

However, in stark contrast to the way it polices other food, drug, cosmetic and medical device industries, the FDA has let the $52.5-billion organic food industry and pro-organic, anti-conventional farming, anti-biotechnology interests routinely and flagrantly ignore agency rules. Their ads, websites and campaigns deliberately mislead consumers and denigrate competitors with multiple falsehoods.

1. No dangerous chemicals. The Whole Foods website falsely claims: “All organic foods begin as crops grown without toxic persistent pesticides which can end up in soil and water, as well as in your food.”

Copper sulfate has multiple pesticide and fungicide applications in organic farming; it persists in soil, is the most common chemical residue in organic foods, and can damage human brains, livers, kidneys and stomach linings. The EU found it can cause cancer but didn’t ban it because organic farmers have “no viable alternatives.” Natural and synthetic pyrethrin pesticides are powerful neurotoxins, highly toxic to bees, cats and fish, and linked to leukemia and other health problems in humans. Rotenone is a highly toxic pesticide that can enhance the onset of Parkinson’s disease. There are many more examples.

Moreover, GMO crops use 37% fewer chemical insecticides and herbicides than conventional versions of the same crops (because biotech crops have systemic or internal biological protections against insects). Indian farmers who plant GMO cotton have doubled their cotton production, dramatically reduced insecticide use and prevented over two million pesticide poisoning cases a year.

2. Biotech foods threaten human health. Organic interests consistently claim that GE foods cause higher incidences of everything from cancer and autism to diabetes and obesity.

Scientific and regulatory bodies worldwide have found that biotech foods are as safe and healthy as foods produced by conventional breeding, including: the World Health Organization, European Food Safety Authority, British Royal Society, American Medical Association, and US National Academy of Sciences, Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration.

More than 100 Nobel Laureates in chemistry, medicine and biotechnology have likewise said crops and foods improved through biotechnology are “as safe as, if not safer than those derived from any other method of production.” Worldwide and with over four trillion US servings of foods containing at least one biotech ingredient, “there has never been a single confirmed case of a negative health outcome for humans or animals from their consumption.”

3. Organic is more sustainable. Organic interests claim their methods increase soil health and organic matter, enhance natural fertility and ensure long-term sustainability.

In reality, organic crops require more land, water, hand weeding, chemicals and expense to generate the same amount of food. Expanding organic farming would cause further wildlife habitat loss and reduced biodiversity, when we are trying to protect natural habitats and feed Earth’s seven billion people.

Biotech crops allow farmers to produce more food, from less land, using less water and fewer pesticides, and with greater resistance to droughts, floods and climate change, than is case with conventional crops – and certainly with organic crops. GE crops achieve much higher food yields per acre – whereas organic farms require 40% more land to as much as 70% more land to produce the same amount of food as their conventional or biotech counterparts.

Biotechnology also enables farmers to grow Golden Rice, which prevents malnutrition, blindness and death in African and Asian children. Greenpeace commits eco-manslaughter by battling this crop.

4. Organic foods are tastier and more nutritious. This assertion is likewise unsupportable.

Stanford University and other studies have repeatedly found that organic foods are no healthier or more nutritious than conventional or GE alternatives, while taste tests in Germany discovered that “discerning” foodies could not tell the difference between organic food and McDonald’s chicken nuggets!

But despite these facts, the endless campaigns of false, misleading, unsubstantiated claims, full-frontal attacks on biotech and conventional farming, and outright lies are clearly working. Thousands of companies pay the Non-GMO Project big bucks to get “GMO-Free” butterfly emblems on over 55,000 products – including salt, orange juice, tomatoes and other items that have no biotech counterparts.

US and EU consumers actually think organic food is better, tastier and more nutritious than conventional or biotech food – and are willing to pay up to 50% more for “organic” milk, bread, fruits and vegetables. Less than 40% of American adults believe genetically modified foods are safe to eat.

Many of the most outrageous activist campaigns are funded directly or indirectly by organic and natural food companies and allied foundations. They’re often conducted along or in coordination with lawsuits against glyphosate (Roundup) and campaigns against neonicotinoid pesticides and biotechnology, to expand organic industry market share and profits, and drive entire companies and industries out of business. Non-GMO Project director Megan Westgate proudly proclaims her goal is “to shrink the market for existing GMO ingredients and prevent new commercial biotech crops” from ever being introduced.

The FDA says trying to enforce its rules would force it to go after every container and company that make false, misleading, deceptive, pejorative organic claims. That’s nonsense. It would only have to go after a few of the biggest, worst, most prominent violators. Others would fall in line pretty quickly.

A few Warning Letters could tell organic farmers, manufacturers and retailers to cease making these claims or marketing their products until they provide replicable, convincing, peer-reviewed evidence that organic foods are chemical-free, safer, more nutritious, more eco-friendly than conventional or GMO varieties – and that GE crops have harmed people or the environment in demonstrable ways.

Organic producers and retailers could also be required to test their foods for residues of toxic organic chemicals. Give them six months to comply – and follow up with legal actions, major fines, and requirements that every miscreant issue front-page and top-of-their-website admissions and apologies.

The FDA, EPA, Agriculture Department and Federal Trade Commission have shown little tolerance for other industry violations. Big Organic should no longer be exempt from truth in advertising rules.

Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org) and author of books and articles on energy, climate and environmental policy.

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121 thoughts on “Enforce rules against false and misleading organic claims

  1. ‘…until they provide replicable, convincing, peer-reviewed evidence’
    just like the climate catastrophists have to do in their field.

      • Cheaper and safer no less. You have too many over-educated idiots who think they are extending their lives by buying more expensive food that is less safe to eat.

        You have to be deluded to buy organic. As for the corporations selling this soft soap nonsense they are simply moving middle class discretionary income into the Crony Capitalistic system which is another way of saying socialism run by the mega corporations.

        I speculate that if we did a survey we would likely find that 80% of these over-educated soy munching idiots have jobs dependent on government funding which are the best paid middle class jobs in the 21st Century which is how they can afford the 40% premium they pay at Whole Foods.

          • Humans should avoid eating soy entirely, fine for feeding cows and pigs and chickens and horses et al. Unless you like elevated levels of estrogen, if so you can happily have my share.

          • 2hotel9: Hops in beer is more estrogenic than soy. Fermented soy (miso, nato, tempeh) are fine but I prefer mead to beer these days.

        • Bill Powers: Sir, please be careful that you don’t put schools and universities out of business. “Education” is the highest goal for the salvation of the human race and the future of the whole (or is it hole) world. Logic and sense are so destructive, they must be banned. Hah !

        • I’ve seen some odd effects (enlarged and more sensitive breasts) of males eating too much soy products.

    • I dislike intensely the hi-jacking of words to describe something. Organic simply means that it is not inorganic. I have never seen nor heard of a food that is grown that is not organic.

      The correct labelling should be grown without chemical fertilisers or pesticides.

      • Well, that’s really not any clearer. “chemical fertilisers or pesticides” is completely uninformative because everything is a chemical by simple definition. Synthetic is probably the word you are looking for though it is relatively meaningless as well given many synthetic insecticides and fungicides are less toxic than those “naturally” derived. Not in all cases but it’s fairly easy to point out the inconsistencies that arise.

        As for fertilisers I don’t think the organic folk really have a good understanding or handle on the E. coli potential they are dealing with. Various organic organisations have variable composting times for manure (which is by far the primary fertiliser used in organic systems). It varies typically from 90-100 days but your composting time will vary widely between say Florida and North Dakota.

        FWIW organic to me means it contains carbon. You know, that evil substance that’s warming the earth.

  2. ok for starters
    GMO foods are supposed to be “different than natural” to GET the patent rights as new/novel
    at the very same time they got an ex employee into govt to push the newly created term “substantuially equivalent” as a means to allow them to say they were as good as the same as Normally grown food products
    and to avoid labelling
    so if theyre new and novel then they are NOT the same.

    the FDA is a pay to play moneygrubbing sh*tfight debacle frankly
    pharma and pharmers PAY them many mil for approvals often they dent do any testing themselves just accept the carefully selected positive trials hello Vioxx and the first statin that knocked people off like flies! started with a B from memory.

    the FDA has multiple instnces of food being contaminated but did nothing ie Peanut butter known to have seriious harm reported but they didnt go check for nearly a yr
    they say..they dont have the money or staff to checkup?
    same FDA that had someone approve a Chinese drug co for making Heparin
    only problem
    that company NEVER made Heparin and the one they didnt check, that did, had dud batches and people did die.

    most people are copper deficient and since polypipes replacing copper ones and waterservice liners arent copper either, the minimal amt from organic growers sprays would be trace only or the damned plants would keel over and be unsaleable.

    rotenone a problem? well wear a mask dont sprinkle on windy days. and dont apply it near water, fixed.

    also not funny is the USDA doing research proving sourcherries DID help ease arthritic joints so the growers used the USDA reports as a sales boost
    and the FDA called that a drug claim and threatened and sent some to the wall

    they recently DOUBLED the amt of roundup per kilo of bodyweight in your foods to around 2grams, because the soils/plants now contain so much of it. they couldnt come in under or even at the max old levels…hmm?

    and in your hate organic rant?
    you sem to have managed to miss the fact anytime an organic company does well and gets a 1% or so market share then the multinats come in and buy em up or haraqss the crap out of them
    MOST of the organic labels you see in stupormarkets are owned BY the big 3 Mars Proctor and Gamble and Nestle

    for such a TINY percent of growers and market share your vitriol toward such is outright OTT.
    if people want chem free and have to pay more then thats their choice
    NOT labelling GMO products or ingredients removes FREE CHOICE
    as for the 7x the land claims etc etc seems theres plenty of orgnaic grower doing fine and not having much more than small 20 or so acreages. niche and specialty markets that keep them in business and their bills paid n families fed thanks very much!

    • You are right on one thing—if people want to pay twice or three times as much for a lie, that’s their business. Problem is, the idiots running the supermarkets are beginning to shove organics down our throughts just like every other religion and virtue-signaling group out there. I am ready to change stores for their “Simple Truth” (translation: complex lie) line of crap that’s organic and replacing the non-organic products. There are sales on the organic line now, replacing the non-organic sales. As more and more virtue-signaling occurs, we are FORCED to buy the expensive crap. So your voluntary argument is totally incorrect.

      • There’s an easy way: Simply give up buying processed food altogether. Work the edges of the market and buy whole, unadulterated produce, meat, and fish. That’s it! Most of the rest is the “carbage” that’s creating virtually ALL of the “diabesity” and strongly correlated diseases. ALL of it ends up as glucose in your bloodstream–with all the havoc that causes. Vote with your checkbook!

    • thanks for sensible rebuttal.

      Claiming a food is healthier or better tasting, because it’s organic, would fall under this guideline of “different attributes … because it was not genetically engineered.”

      Does not follow. They do not claim “because not OGM.

      Being as biases and inaccurate as the warmists is not a winning argument.

    • BT, Baccilus thuringensis toxin, is a common pesticide used in “organic” as well as conventional farming. If one bioengineers a crop, like corn or cotton, to produce it as part of the plant, it suddenly becomes evil GMO poisons to the “organic” industry.
      Ozspeakup, you have been reading rather too much agitprop from the “natural foods” industry.

      • Tom, BT is a tripartite toxin. When it is sprayed one gets the benefit of all three toxins. When used to modify a crop they generally only insert the coding for one toxin not all three.

        I find the whole debate over GMO ludicrous. We have been genetically modifying crops since agriculture developed. Today instead of taking years to get the right cross or a new random attribute we basically cut and past. Without out the early work on cross breeding, e.g., Gregor Mendel, we might never have gotten to modern genetic manipulation.

    • Ozspeaksup,
      Remember that everything that you eat and drink is made of chemicals. Every chemical is toxic at sufficient dose. Your digestive system does not know if it is processing “natural” or “man-made” chemicals.
      Your stated preference for certain classes of chemicals is no more than belief in what was misleadingly promoted by others. Snap out of it, get real.

      • “Your digestive system does not know if it is processing “natural” or “man-made” chemicals.”

        True, but it’s the problem when “unnatural” chemicals replace “natural” chemicals in cells, or interfere with normal cellular functions. For example, when glyphosate replaces glycine in cells, those cells are no longer able to function properly.

      • Geoff Sherrington: “…everything you eat and drink is made of chemicals.” This is a reason why I get a bit angry when I see “chemical free” on a label, the more so when the product contains water, which is, of course, a chemical. I occasionally see a label that says “sugar free” and lists “polydextrose”, a sugar. With trail mix and other snacks that are “good for us” and contain nuts, with my allergic reaction to nuts, without an epi-pen or an emergency room, the safe bet is that the result will be lethal. “Pesticide free” is an “oh yeah?” to me, in that plants make their own pesticides to resist being eaten by insects and other pests. Basic high school science taught me that part of a class of chemicals, I think esters, that give fruits and vegetables some of their flavor are poisonous, only found in concentrations below the threshold of toxicity. Wood is natural and organic, as is petroleum, but I don’t think I can live on them.

    • Well thought out and presented points. I would like to add the following regard the claim that some make that organic produce is “more nutritious.”

      The simple fact is that “it depends” which is generally not considered a good answer. What makes any plant “more nutritious” is the plant’s ability to absorb minerals and make vitamins. That function is NOT limited to organically grown food.

      The simple reality is that some organically grown food CAN be more nutrient dense than some conventionally grown food and visa versa. It’s not the form of NPK that is used to grow the plant but the presence of plant available minerals. You can grow a plant with around 16 minerals, some of which come out of the air or water. Some plants can take up (absorb) up to 74 minerals, if they are available.

      Is REAL organic agriculture better for the environment? Sure, hands down. Can conventional agriculture be performed in such a manner as to not harm the environment? Absolutely. As the saying goes, the “devil is in the details.”

      Source your produce from a grower, preferably local, that can educate you on how he grows. If you agree with his methodology, then support him. If not, keep looking. The truth of the matter is that what we feed ourselves determines to a great degree the quality of life we will live. Choose wisely.

    • I am a Permaculture Designer, and can’t agree with you more. It is also against the Zen Buddhist Religion to ingest GMO food. This site is the third I have seen in a week spreading attack propaganda in favor of chemically poisoned and GMO so called “food”. Read the Vermont Observer article regarding pigs that were fed a GMO diet. SCARY!!!

      • I love rich people, they are happy to pay people to do things. Then those people become rich and pay people to do things and so on and so forth!

  3. “However, in stark contrast to the way it polices other food, drug, cosmetic and medical device industries, the FDA has let the $52.5-billion organic food industry and pro-organic, anti-conventional farming, anti-biotechnology interests routinely and flagrantly ignore agency rules. Their ads, websites and campaigns deliberately mislead consumers and denigrate competitors with multiple falsehoods.”

    That is because the entire ‘Organic’ industry is built upon a USDA program for smaller farmers to grow “niche” crops to sell to people who believe organic is better.
    This “Organic” program started in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

    I attended my first Pennsylvania Agriculture Extension presentation pushing Organic agriculture around 1972.
    The rationale presented was to allow small farmers that were willing to grow crops without certain chemicals to sell their smaller crop yields for more money from people who demanded organic foods.

    For these niche growers, USDA established regulations that growers had to meet in order to label their foods as “organic”.
    Except, large commercial operations want that higher selling price for the same goods, too. Those large commercial operations quickly cornered most of the organic market.
    So much for niche growers.

    USDA maintains a “Nutritional Database” where nutritional benefits of foods are easily available for comparison. Unless a food has “organic” in their name, the database simply shows the base food product(s) and their nutritional content.
    i.e. Organic is either an adjective or a trademarked term, it is not a term that denotes any difference in food nutrition.

    • Organic is a “farming method”. It does not refer to the product’s quality or anthing else. It is METHOD.

      • Is not “organic” chemistry ……… “carbon” chemistry?

        If so, then “organic” means “carbon”.

        And all green growing biomass is carbon based, …… aka: organic.

        But then, ……. we park on driveways ……. and drive on parkways.

        Go figure!!

      • I know a lot of small farmers who cannot afford to use the term “Organic” on their product.
        Another similar group are coffee growers especially those in poor third world countries. It’s a bit ironic because they can’t afford to purchase pesticides anyway.

    • One of my buddies travels the world buying tea. She knows of exactly one (1) small permaculture grower who uses zero (0) chemicals of any kind. Lots of growers have some kind of organic designation, USDA isn’t the only one, but they still manage to use pesticides without actually breaking any rules.

      Of course the big companies want to cash in on the marketing potential of ‘healthier’ more ‘environmentally responsible’ products. They get away with making all kinds of claims without getting in trouble with the law. It’s called greenwashing. It works.

      BTW, Buddy says the CBC did an investigation of tea and found that the one with the least pesticide residue is good old Red Rose. As far as I can tell, Red Rose makes no environmental or health claims. That’s refreshing.

      • In the early years when China’s tea was being introduced to Britain, the Chinese detected a trendy wave, a preference for “green tea” however defined. The Chinese obliged by adding green coloured chemicals to customary black tea. One documented chemical was potassium ferrocyanide. What the eye does not see, the heart does not grieve. Geoff S

  4. This article is a keeper.

    The Vegan mob just won’t listen to anything though, no matter how thoughtfully presented.

    • I was in Lisle, IL this past weekend where the vegan convention was held. They looked a little less anorexic than the ones I know personally. No idea if they exhibited serious personal image and self control neuroses like those I know. I am sure the diagnosis would be higher than normal incidence.

      • I don’t have any issues with the bulk of this article, but I can certainly tell the difference between “organic” and the other fruits in my grocery store. The organic labeled ones taste way better. I won’t even eat most of the flavourless, non “organic” fruit anymore, except in the case of locally grown fruit, when it’s in season.
        Just an observation.

        • The organic labeled ones taste way better.

          Fruits will taste way better if they are, per se, organically produced, …… simply because they are, per se “vine ripened” ….. and not “gassed” to look like they are ripe.

          “Gassed” fruits do not have good “taste” quality ….. but they have extended market “shelf life”.

          • I don’t think that’s entirely true. I buy organic apples at Aldis year round. There’s no way they are tree ripened. And they are delicious.

          • icisil, …… apples are stored in “climate controlled” storage areas. They are kept cool, CO2 is stripped from the air, etc., ….. and it keeps the apples “fresh” for months.

        • I can tell the ‘organic’ fruits and vegetables by looking at them too. They are smaller, scrawnier, have lots of blemishes and basically last a day or two at most once you get them home.

        • Be careful Timo,

          Taste issues are not that simple.

          Organic growers often use a different set of seeds, often the open pollinated varieties, of which are more likely selected for taste, than shipping and storage qualities. Hybrid seeds are normally bred for increased yields and improved shipping and storage qualities, with flavor/taste being left out, which open pollinated (especially the older varieties) tends to emphasize flavor/taste a lot more.

          Today’s organic foods are not worth buying in most cases, as there is no true benefit to point to that justify the higher prices.

          Backyard organic gardening is a much better idea than mass produced farming.

  5. Oh wow, did that ever hit the nail on the head (-: But if people buy organic so what? It doesn’t affect me. If I see organic on the label I don’t buy it unless it costs less. At least once I found that to be true.

    On the other hand it is a scam. Perfect “Grade A” apples command a premium price and those with blemishes can be labeled “Organic” and priced even higher. I swear that goes on.

    Excellent article, thanks for posting

  6. Skepticism is the chastity of the intellect, and it is shameful to surrender it too soon or to the first comer: there is nobility in preserving it coolly and proudly through long youth, until at last, in the ripeness of instinct and discretion, it can be safely exchanged for fidelity and happiness.
    The Works of George Santayana

  7. Thank you Paul Driessen for attacking the colossal scams revolving around the GMO superstition.

    The wildly irrational fears of GMO food bear similarity to the scientifically illiterate belief in dangerous AGW.

      • It also reflects a certain Orwellian control-freakery on the part of GMO companies. But it’s ok when companies do it, just not governments.

  8. The irony is that without GMO potatoes would still be poisonous and cereal grains would still be grass seeds. OK, it was done the hard way and called breeding but it is still genetic modification.

      • The real irony is, ……. some people love the thought of GRT (gene replacement therapy), ….. while detesting the thought of GMO (genetically modified organism).

        Human directed animal and plant husbandry is as old as “hunting-gathering” and “farming”.

        Horizontal gene transfers was the “primary” driver of “The Origin of the Species”, …. along with reproductive “descent with modification via gene mutations”.

    • +42000. The vast majority of GMO foods could have been developed with “natural” methods – careful hand cross-pollination, selection of the hybrids that took up the desired traits, repeat anywhere from a dozen to several hundred times to obtain a stable reproduction over the generations.

      Just with a lot more time and resources.

  9. As with renewable power replacing fossil fuels, organic farming just can’t feed 8 billion people. And this is regardless of whether it is healthier or not. We need the “industrial” farms with the big tractors and GMO seeds to produce the millions of bushels of grains to feed billions of people daily, either directly or indirectly.

    It has always been my contention that people will put up with a lot of things until they get cold, hot, hungry or generally uncomfortable for a period of time. The recent UK and Australian power incidents were a start. If we start seeing large scale disruption of food due to government policies attitudes will change quickly. We only get one growing season a year and things can go to Hell in a hand basket pretty quickly.

        • “I don’t know what you mean by ‘glory,’ ” Alice said.
          Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. “Of course you don’t—till I tell you. I meant ‘there’s a nice knock-down argument for you!’ ”
          “But ‘glory’ doesn’t mean ‘a nice knock-down argument’,” Alice objected.
          “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”
          “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
          “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.”

        • The Red Queen Hypothesis: “Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place.”

      • Dino’s used to eat inorganic food… Rocks to aid in the digestion of prodigious amounts of plant matter from Mega-Flora growing as a result of enhanced CO2 levels

  10. I’ve yet to meet, other than kids pretending to munch on mud pies, anyone that doesn’t eat organic food. Imagine the dental bills if you try to down that mashed granite.

    • “I grew up on inorganic food. We were so poor…”

      “How poor were you?”

      “We were so poor, we were glad to eat dirt sandwiches… on those rare days when dad could afford to bring home a little dirt.”
      ;o)

  11. Paul Driessen,
    Thank you for a timely and accurate account.
    Your main points also apply to Australia.
    Our ABC state broadcaster made a deliberate decision to promote organic gardening about 2009, when popular presenter Peter Cundall retired and spoke of the plans in his retirement address.
    I objected to this lack of balance in a detailed complaint through the proper channels and was treated to a response more appropriate for a child.
    Since then, the ABC has produced a glossy periodical on organic agriculture with seemingly equal status to normal agriculture. It is simple deceit.
    As you note, there is a double whammy by organic farmers. They promote their inefficient, voodoo-based methods while actively denigrating the outstanding science that helps feed the world.
    I cannot understand what motivates them as double losers. Geoff S

  12. While I agree with the author that the organic industry needs to be better policed, I disagree with the disingenuous means he used to support that. Whenever I see epistemological fallacies being made, I suspect an agenda is taking precedence over truth. For example he states:

    “Organic interests claim their methods increase soil health and organic matter, enhance natural fertility and ensure long-term sustainability.”

    which is true; they do. But then he segues into this strawman that has nothing to do with, yet detracts from the positive benefit of, the prior point:

    “In reality, organic crops require more land, water, hand weeding, chemicals and expense to generate the same amount of food.”

    • Actually they don’t increase soil health or anything else on your list, but don’t let something as trivial as reality get in the way of a good religious rant.

      The fact that organic farming does require “more land, water, hand weeding, chemicals and expense to generate the same amount of food” is both true and a completely valid point.

  13. All food humans consume is organic, unless it is made from stone or metal. These lies being dumped on consumers need to be exposed and the people pushing them prosecuted. Sounds like a good job for Mueller! Perhaps Trump could order him to begin the investigations.

  14. What the Organic Foods industry doesn’t want to be widely known is that the tern “organic” is a relabeling of “Biodynamic Agriculture” , a movement endorsed very heavily by the NSDAP in Germany during their reign.
    I do believe the renaming started with Robert Rodale, publisher of a magazine advertising the services of Alternative Medicine practitioners.
    Biodynamic agriculture was part of the pre-war German rejection of conventional science, what was called “border science” by Eric Kurlander in “Hitler’s Monsters”, a history of the connections between the Nazi movement and mysticism. “Organic” is still very much more mysticism than science.

  15. Organic makes sense if someone wants to reduce his/her body load of organophosphates and other chemicals that don’t belong in the human body. I prefer organic, but only buy it when it’s reasonably priced. Sometimes it’s not that expensive at places like Aldis and Trader Joes. Forget Whole Foods. And one doesn’t have to always buy organic to reduce one’s toxic load. For example, produce listed in the USDA’s “clean 15” list.

    The 2019 Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen
    https://www.produceretailer.com/article/news-article/2018-dirty-dozen-and-clean-15-lists-released

    It’s not the poison, it’s the dose, so limiting one’s dosage is just basic good sense.

    • While there is no evidence that organic foods are better for our physical health, it’s quite obvious that organic foods are good for the mental health of some sadly uninformed souls.

      • Man-up and explain your disparaging innuendo. What about what I said does not reflect sound mental health?

        • Pre-WWII American ag was essentially all “organic” by today’s standards. Corn Belt yield was ~50bu/ac and life expectancy ~66yrs; Today corn yield in same area ~175 bu/ac and life expectancy 79yrs. How bad can all those “organophosphates” be for our health and how much should we be worrying about them? People are paying an unnecessary premium when they shop at Whole Paycheck Foods, motivated either by a need to virtue-signal or by an irrational or ignorant fear of our American agricultural production.

  16. Home grown and fresh picked sure does taste better. Home cooked and home canned also tastes better if you know what you’re doing. Sure, it costs more and has to be a hobby rather than a way to earn a living, but a home garden can feed an entire family, even in a crisis….until the neighbors come by with bazookas.

  17. I raised six children (+2 for a couple of years) on a 45acre farm in eastern Ontario – holstein cow, 30 sheep, horse, chickens, ducks, geese, 8 pigs and an organic garden. I bought sacks of oats (handful per sheep a day in winter, sprouted for chickens in winter, some for the horse), grew corn for pigs. Sold eggs, lamb, pork, chicken, ducks, geese, homemade bread from organic barley, wheat, oat flour purchased from a Quebec farm, and a yearling calf each year. I think we were much more “organic” than the enterprises today.

    My sales were to hole-in-the -wall organic food shops in the city. With telephone pole advertising, we rounded up ~50 home delivery customers for bread, eggs and meat, etc., too and sold to colleagues at my ‘real’ job in town. A neighbor custom cut up the meat to order and smoked bacon and ham for us.

    I sure didn’t get rich on it, but lamb sold for such a high price, I couldnt afford to eat much of it myself! I like to think my customers got their moneysworth and we didnt use copper sulphate or anything else. I don’t buy organic myself these days, though!

  18. I have had gardens small farms from
    2 ac. Up to 850 acres.99 out or 100
    Do not grow anything so cool it grow
    Can and dry freeze.most Al of these
    Comments are a joke.our Waters are
    Polluted our soil too.poison is poison talk to loacl producers get involved with folks neighbors church’s have gardens you can use
    Roto till your yard do your own food
    Security ask yourself what have I really done and what do I know.Then
    Comment but stop bullcrap opinions
    Unless your on hands.

    Sincerely Eddie
    Founder of Independent farm direct
    We’ll help anyone get Savvy be safe.

  19. The “organic is better” is all part of the slow descent of science into pseudoscience that Dr Michael Crichton described in his “Space aliens cause Global Warming” talk. (available on YouTube)

    Once we accept the false premise that an “Informed opinion” is more than just an “opinion”, i.e. that an informed opinion that is is somehow factual, then any kind of junk science is possible. It is exactly the kind of mind set that leads to FDA and EPA junk science on foods, diets, and global warming.

    • “Organic is better” does not necessarily have anything to do with science. Taste is subjective. Many people think organic food tastes better, so for them organic is better. It is better to not ingest synthetic pesticides/herbicides, so if organic food contains less of those, it is better in that sense.

      • Do they think that organic food tastes better, or that food labelled “organic” tastes better?

        • Yeah JW Braue, -I think it was the comedic magic team Penn & Teller who had people blind taste test banana halves. Then in an un-blinded permutation those told which was organic the people said it tasted better. Upon which Penn uncovered the less good tasting banana half to reveal it was actually the other half of the banana piece the person had just declared better tasting.

      • FIrst off, the level of “synthetic” pesticides is very, very low.
        Only a complete chemophobe would complain about such low levels.
        Kind of like complaining about levels of radiation that are hard to even measure.
        Secondly, most natural pesticides are even worse than the so called synthetic ones.

          • Zero continues to shrink as the decimal place moves further to the right.

            It used to be that measuring in ppm was expensive, ppb was prohibitively so. Now ppm can be done virtually at home for mere dollars. ppb testing is inexpensive and ppt is expensive. That something CAN be found doesn’t mean it is harmful and that’s if it IS found.

            I can’t speak to American situation but in Canada the CFIA tests produce regularly. Over 97% (yup, there’s that number again) of produce has no detectable pesticide residues on it. Only 3% has a detectable residue at all, the majority of which does not exceed the MRL as set out in Canada (MRLs are very similar throughout most of the world so this probably reasonably applies to the U.S.).

            Much ado about nothing. Almost literally.

  20. Tired of how the word “organic” has been usurped to represent allegedly food grown without pesticide/herbicide; all food is “organic”. One can chip a tooth on the “inorganic” varieties…

  21. I planted my first GMO sweet corn crop this year in my garden. I am very happy with it. One application of round up and the weeding was done. The plants are 8′ tall. I ate the first cobs last night.

    Now if only the would make a round up ready green bean (Phaseolus vulgaris). I would have an even better garden.

  22. The history of food adulteration is pretty horendous – from lead to make paprika redder, kaolin to stretch milk, PEG to smooth rough wine, plaster in flour and hundreds more. Regulation has cleaned up our food supply. The ‘organic’ industry is grossly unregulated, with every small farmer seeing the label as a means of increasing the price. I know some organic farmers who have other means of support who farm that way because of belief. The fact that they have other income means that they can allow a crop to fail. I know others who I would not trust to not use any chemical available to avoid a year of no income. The ‘local’ industry is particularly vulnerable to this problem.

    I do not buy anything from unregulated food sources, and that includes ‘organic’ food at double the price. Those that do are invariably rather on the wealthy side, and buy food as if it is a religion. With all the claims about ‘toxins’ and ‘chemicals’ in our food, it is surprising that the 20th century saw life expectancy rise so much around the world, particularly in industrial nations that took full advantage of technology.

  23. organic is fine for home/family gardens, but they cannot feed a small town let alone a country.
    I am not fan of gmo due to the whole patent issues stuff BUT both/all methods have a viable place DEPENDING on the needed/desired outcome.
    I and my neighbors use organic methods as it fits our needs, we use horse manure from a mile down the road to prep soil so that helps reduce manure storage from the stables. for me its a hobby, I get some fresh stuff during the year to eat. was unable this year due to variety of reasons but will next year, love walking outside popping some cherry tomatoes off plant and eating like candy.
    there is no one size fits all solution and all methods have their uses.

  24. This article is full of half truths and errors trying to simplify a very complex and diverse topic.
    It is true the use of insecticides has for now gone down but herbicides such as Roundup have skyrocketed.
    Roundup is safe you say: yet Monsanto has so far lost 3 jury court trials with the last settlement recommended at 1 billion. I guess the jury thought Monsanto needed punishment. Only 13,000 more court cases to go. This is what happens when the jury sees the full body of scientific evidence. There are many types and ways to do organic farming and many examples of organic much more efficient that chemical farming. Some organic farms 10 times more. Chemical farming over time leads to less productive soil and resistant weeds and insects. Chemical farming is mining the soil and in the long run not sustainable.
    Golden rice is good idea but the problem is many or most of us genetically cannot convert the carotene into the active form of Vit A thus is useless. ‘Much cheaper to spend 1 trillion less on climate change and a few million on Vit A supplement or better yet a few billion on poverty reduction.
    On this web sight especially I would expect people to be sceptical of the “settled science” and the indosement multiple government scientific bodies. There is abundant evidence out there that GMO’s and Roundup have multiple problems. Generally the industry funded science is short , not well down, and even when properly done ignores obvious flags. The independent science is longer term, better done, and comes to opposite conclusions. Spend an afternoon on pubmed.

      • Reminiscent of the nuclear phobia that was widely disseminated. The hexavalent chromium threat that failed to materialize. Or the current catastrophic anthropogenic global warming… climate change prophecy that is renewed, recycled, and regurgitated with every political cycle. Someone is speaking truth to facts.

        • Appears you missed the latest memo, it is now Climate Emergency. And when used on TV it is accompanied by flashing graphics and dramatic sound effects.

          Just like getting your medical research pronouncements from a judge in Brussels and a jury in San Francisco, got to keep changing the wording to keep people confused.

      • I am just pointing there is a strong argument that Gmo’s and Roundup have not been proven safe and in fact are likely harmful. Anyone taking a serious unbiased look well see there are problems and maybe this is an experiment we should put more time into rats than our children.

  25. I recall a long, drawn out court case a few years ago against a British supermarket chain claiming that it was selling non-organic chickens as organic. The two test birds turned out to be so identical that they finally had to determine the case by isotopic ratio analysis!

  26. In grape growing we have a wide range of fungicides and pesticides from manufacturers that qualify for organic farming. The main difference is that they break down faster than the non-organic rated ones and have to be applied more frequently and heavier dosage. This makes them more expensive choices.
    Take copper sulfate as an organic fungicide. It is applied at over twice the amount of the “inorganic” choices. Copper sulfate has a LD50 (amount to kill 50% of test population) of 30 mg per kilo of body weight. (Compare that to DDT which has an LD50 of over 500mg per kg body weight.) The list of “organic” pesticides is long and organic farming today is often just a matter of buying more crap to spray or dust on the crop. And organic farming is not any more immune, perhaps less immune, to developing resistance to their products over time. But it is proven to be an effective marketing device.

  27. ‘Organic interests consistently claim that GE foods cause higher incidences of everything from cancer and autism to diabetes and obesity.’

    That is AMAZING! since the causes of autism and diabetes are unknown.

  28. I have always been amused at the abuse of words like ‘organic’ and ‘natural’ in advertising.
    Arsenic is natural but it is best not to sprinkle it on your Corn Flakes.

  29. Glyphosate

    There is rapid elimination, no biotransformation, and minimal tissue retention of glyphosate in various species, including mammals, birds, and fish.

    Someone is speaking truth to facts.

  30. A sort of related side note.
    “Gluten Free” is another sales pitch. I know that some people really are sensitive to eating gluten so I’m not knocking that there are gluten free products out there for them to eat.
    But … I bought a bottle of mouthwash a bit ago that, on the back had a small label that said “Gluten Free”.
    I mean, don’t they already warn us not to drink the stuff?

  31. Alternatively, have you considered that maybe the FDA just shouldn’t be regulating “Love” as an additive?

  32. Several above have commented about the dangers of glyphosate (Roundup). Several years ago I looked up the literature on it on Google Scholar. As a retired neuroscientist, I did not come across any studies in the past 15 years that I would have given the heads up as a reviewer. My conclusion was the worst you could say about it was that it was misused in the developing world, as were many other agricultural chemicals. In fact, if you are concerned about chemicals, it is best to eschew all products imported from such countries – avocado, coffee, quinoa, and so on.

    The whole cat family went throgh an evolutionary bottleneck before radiating. In it they became obligatory carnivores. What this means is that they lack the liver enzymes to digest the organic compounds in plant matter – they need herbivores and omnivores to detoxify such things as carrots and potatoes before they eat them. Thus, if there are healthy cats around, there are not significant environmental chemicals. My Singapura is now healthy well past the breed lifespan estimates on Purina chow supplemented with an ounce of raw meat daily. I don’t worry about using malathion and roundup in the garden.

    • It is an organophosphate. I would not spray it around liberally where I was gardening. It may be safe in some use cases, but its not risk free.

  33. I share a lot of the unease about ‘organic’ practices and value. But a lot of people are going to rather an extreme of defending the indefensible in current farming practice. Hormones and antibiotics are examples. When you look at modern poultry farming and processing, can you really eat chicken when you know how its made? I cannot, and lots of others cannot either.

    Take something as basic as wheat. You probably think this is just fine, and its generally said that whole wheat is healthier. The real situation is much more complicated. We have bred modern wheat to have indigestible bran and be high in phytates which, if the whole grain is eaten, prevent absorption of lots of the extra nutrients in it.

    We should be uneasy about the organic bandwagon. But this does not mean we should let current farming practice go uncriticised. People are right to be concerned. It may be that those trading on those concerns are not legitimate, but the concerns are.

    This is not an all or nothing thing. it reminds me of the electric car thread, where there is a real case for selective restriction of ICE vehicles in some places. Indeed, in some places restriction of powered vehicles of all sorts. But the debate quickly turns to, either no restrictions at all, or banning the things everywhere. The answer is to think about it and keep them where its reasonable, and not where its not.

    Similarly here. No, its absurd to go totally organic. No, its also absurd to defend every horrible excess of contemporary industrial farming. The answer is to think about it and be selectively critical and recognize people are concerned about something real, even if they have got or been sold in many cases the wrong end of the stick.

  34. There are a few factual problems with this article, but I’ll limit my response to GMOs.

    I studied genetics. I know how GMOs are produced. We are dealing with a black box as far as genetics is concerned, even after relatively cheap genetic sequencing is available. There’s much we still don’t know about DNA. It turns out that much of what they call “junk DNA” is actually instructions on how to produce the mRNA used to make proteins that build up the body, or plant. We haven’t decoded those instructions yet. Using the relatively crude methods of gene splicing, what unintended proteins are being made? Do they include show acting poisons that like smoking will take years to have their effect? If they take years to have their effect, how will their effects be isolated from other environmental factors? You’re dealing with unknowns, and quite frankly, I don’t want to experiment with them on my own body.

    Some of his other claims apply mainly to large, industrial scale mono-cropping farming, not family farms.

    Granted, there’s dishonesty on both the pro-GMO and anti-GMO sides, like non-GMO sugar which has been so highly processed that it makes no difference, and that “golden rice”, which the FDA concludes provides no added nutritional value, is safe and beneficial. Why has the industry spent so much to defeat mandatory labelling of GMO foods? False claims need to be investigated and opposed.

    • What melamede says. Label GMO foods “GMO.” Let consumers choose if they want to be exposed to unintended consequences should there be any.

  35. Reminds me of the idea of “organic” coffee. What utter nonsense. All beans are washed and roasted after harvest. Further more we don’t “eat” the bean. We drink the colored water we get from soaking the ground beans in hot water. Liquid coffee from organic, non-organic, GMO, or non-GMO is identical in all chemical properties. You cannot, even at the most minuscule chemical analysis, tell the difference in cups of coffee after it is brewed. They are all the same. So if you are paying for “organic” coffee, which means paying quite a bit extra for the privilege, because you think it is healthier for you because it has fewer chemicals in the brew, you are an idiot.

    • “GMO” or “Genetically Modified Organism”.
      How do you genetically modify something that isn’t organic?

  36. As a side comment I suggest this site focus on climate, weather and not the general environmental debate especially over GMO & glyphosate. When you lose your focus you lose your effectiveness. This is a very effective climate site and when you start putting in opinion pieces on other subjects you lose focus.

    If Paul Driessen wants to promote GMOs & glyphosate there are lots of sites he can post his opinion on. This site should not be one of them IMHO.

    Thank you for your opinion Paul and thank you WUWT but keep focused on climate.

  37. Paul,
    Very good article. I’ve been keeping a file on organic food since the California spinach contamination in 2006 where 3 people died from E.Coli poisoning from organic food. Since then there were 48 deaths from organic bean sprouts in Germany in 2010, and in 2018 E.Coli on organic Romaine lettuce from Yuma, AZ sickened a number of people and many others. The typical news pattern is to warn consumers about tainted foods when an outbreak occurs but never mention it was organic. I have to always go to the CDC, get the name of the farm, and look it up. Organic farms are a well protected business. The problem with organic foods is they mostly use composted manure and if not properly washed, food will contain the bacteria. Also, there is confusion about how to use chlorine for disinfection without violating the organic rules.

  38. Driessen is WRONG on so many levels!
    Caroline Snyder

    As a fruit and vegetable grower for some 40 years, I have reviewed the literature extensively. I am also a Nutritional Biochemist and have several published works under my name. Driessen does NOT have a fraction of my expertise on this.

    TRUST me – Genetically engineered crops and the use of Bt crops and Round-Up resistant varieties (Syngenta and Monsanto) ARE associated with deterioration in the environment, and in people’s health, as well as those companies incredibly successful efforts to wipe out biological diversity in food by buying up numerous small seed producers and “disappearing” thousands of varieties that our forefathers grew.

    I could write a book but don’t have the time, but challenge me on this and I WILL give you properly-researched answers!

    Nutritional Quality of Organic Versus Conventional
    Fruits, Vegetables, and Grains:

    Results: Organic crops contained significantly more vitamin C, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus and significantly less nitrates than conventional crops. There were nonsignificant trends
    showing less protein but of a better quality and a higher content of nutritionally significant minerals with lower amounts of some heavy metals in organic crops compared to conventional ones.

    Conclusions: There appear to be genuine differences in the nutrient content of organic and
    conventional crops.

    LINK – https://ucanr.edu/datastoreFiles/608-794.pdf

    Compositional differences in soybeans on the market:
    Glyphosate accumulates in Roundup Ready GM soybeans

    Highlights

    Glyphosate tolerant GM soybeans contain high residues of glyphosate and AMPA.

    Soybeans from different agricultural practices differ in nutritional quality.

    Organic soybeans showed a more healthy nutritional profile than other soybeans.

    Organic soy contained more sugars, protein and zinc, but less fibre and omega-6.

    This study rejects that GM soy is “substantially equivalent” to non-GM soybeans.

    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308814613019201

    Ten-Year Comparison of the Influence of Organic and Conventional Crop Management Practices on the Content of Flavonoids in Tomatoes

    Comparisons of analyses of archived samples from conventional and organic production systems demonstrated statistically higher levels (P < 0.05) of quercetin and kaempferol aglycones in organic tomatoes. Ten-year mean levels of quercetin and kaempferol in organic tomatoes [115.5 and 63.3 mg g-1 of dry matter (DM)] were 79 and 97% higher than those in conventional tomatoes (64.6 and 32.06 mg g-1 of DM), respectively. The levels of flavonoids increased over time in samples from organic treatments, whereas the levels of flavonoids did not vary significantly in conventional treatments. This increase corresponds not only with increasing amounts of soil organic matter accumulating in organic plots but also with reduced manure application rates once soils in the organic systems had reached equilibrium levels of organic matter. Well-quantified changes in tomato nutrients over years in organic farming systems have not been reported previously.

    https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/jf070344+

    He IS right about the potential for toxicity for (synthetic) pyrethroids and for Pyrethrum/Tanacetum compounds; also the actual flower, I experienced a SEVERE acute reaction to Pyrethrum three years ago – excarcerbation of my Multiple Sclerosis almosts to the extent of seizures. No-one else in the house (15 of us) suffered a reaction except for an elderly friend who had a bout of asthma almost immediately. However, in teh US, Tagetes/Pyrethoids/Pyrethrum do NOT appear to be on the list of organic plant treatments published by the USDA – which can be found here:

    The National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances

    https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?c=ecfr&SID=9874504b6f1025eb0e6b67cadf9d3b40&rgn=div6&view=text&node=7:3.1.1.9.32.7&idno=7#sg7.3.205.g.sg0

    Oh, and BTW, the term “organic” has nothing to do with the natural hybridisation of cultivars from seed that has occurred over millennia. It has everything to do with soil enrichment and soil biome improvement through the use of anything from calcified seaweed to rotted animal manure to compost, to bloodmeal, to ground mineral-rich products and the avoidance, according a country’s laws of “un-natural” chemical compounds in crop production and processing.

    Each country has specific standards and requirements to obtain that “organic” label. It is perfectly OK to grow organically from a naturally-hybridised seed (selectively bred over generations for certain characteristics such as size, flavour, insect and mold resistance, or resistance to cold, excesssive rainfall or heat, for example.

    GM crops do NOT happen naturally. Example – inserting a flounder gene into a tomato to increase the fruit’s frost-tolerance would never occur naturally. Yes, Monsanto tried THAT one and it was a disaster!

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