24.5.12

Of interest, I am sure, to some of my readers:

Organic farmers have commercial interests and organizations aimed at protecting those interests, just like conventional agribusiness. If this campaign is any indication, they’re no more trustworthy than Monsanto, just far less powerful.

When not referring to carbon-based compounds, “organic” is a marketing term, not a scientific one. In the U.S., it refers to products grown or made without synthetic fertilizers and pesticides or a few other disallowed things including transgenic seed, as certified by one of the roughly 100 USDA-accredited agencies (source: USDA). It doesn’t mean it’s produced without any fertilizers or pesticides, which would make farming all-but-impossible anyhow. Many organic-permissible fertilizers and pesticides are actually worse than conventional ones in terms of how much energy they take to produce, how they affect the environment, how effective they are, and how they affect the health of farmers and people living downstream. Obviously, if you want to buy organic-labeled things anyway, that’s up to you, but I wouldn’t go around feeling smug about it or anything.

What really makes the veins in my temples throb uncomfortably is when people post things like the ad above with a tagline like “This is why it’s so important to know where your food comes from!” I don’t expect people to be experts on Bt, or any other aspects of farming and food production. Most people have more pressing things to do with their time than actually find out whether the organic berries at the store were grown using sodium nitrate mined in South America that leached perchloride into surrounding waterways, which might interfere with the human thyroid gland if it seeps into drinking water. Or if this or that brand of organic wine was protected from fungus with copper sulfate, which is toxic to fish and accumulates in the soil and in the breastmilk of vineyard employees (see: the section of Just Food titled “Chemicals” pp. 62-72).

But if you insist on posturing as an informed consumer, the least you can do is pay attention to the sources of your information and attempt to verify suspicious claims. Especially if someone has a clear profit motive for getting you to believe something or is trying to sell you on an idea by making emotional appeals, like gesturing towards oblique threats to pregnant women, google that shit.

1 comment:

Phoebe said...

And, done.