Would you still call food organic if it was genetically engineered, grown in toxic sludge, and irradiated? The FDA says yes – maybe.
The FDA wants to redefine organic and your input is needed!
A RealAudio Special!
What chemicals are used to grow your food? Organic growers eschew the use of fertilizers like phosphates and pesticides like malathion. Just as a giant phosphate spill kills thousands of fish in the Alafia River in Florida the US government has taken steps to help chemical-free farmers.
There are new rules for labeling organic food. Up until now, there were no guidelines for organic growing.
In what has been hailed as a “culture shift,” the US Department of Agriculture has decided that, beginning next year, all foods labeled organic must be certified as such by the USDA.
Traditionally, organic foods are defined as those fruits, vegetables and meats that are raised in a chemical-free environment. The demand for these foods has exploded in recent years and brand names like Amy’s have grown to serve this market. But there are no national standards for defining “organic.”
A patchwork of state and local laws have guided organic growers and food processors. California has led the way in both defining and guiding organic farming and in proving that pesticide free farms can be profitable.
Seven years ago the US legislature asked the USDA to come up with guidelines for organic growers. The result is 400 pages long and 7 years in the making. The new proposal allows for fine of up to $10,000 for anyone who mislabels food as organic. But divisive questions about biotechnology and irradiation remain unresolved, and there is a 90 day period for comment and revision.
“Including such food as organic would be worse than having no federal guidelines at all!” said Kathryn DeMateo of the Organic Trade association. They say that irradiated and genetically engineered foods go against the entire reasoning behind organic labeling in the first place.
What do you think? Should irradiated and genetically engineered foods be called “organic?”