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Ear to the Ground

Behind the Label

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Posted on Aug 29, 2009
Organic Produce
treehugger.com

Critics are wondering how helpful it will be for industry groups to be the arbiters of what it means to be organic.

An industry group of organic and natural food producers is attempting to develop a standard for non-genetically modified and organic food. Existing labels declaring food “organic” are based as marketing devices, not on an actual standard of rigorous testing.  —J.C.

The New York Times:

Alarmed that genetically engineered crops may be finding their way into organic and natural foods, an industry group has begun a campaign to test products and label those that are largely free of biotech ingredients.

With farmers using gene-altered seeds to grow much of North America’s corn, soybeans, canola and sugar, ingredients derived from biotech crops have become hard for food companies to avoid. But many makers of organic and natural foods are convinced that their credibility in the marketplace requires them to do so.

The industry group, the Non-GMO Project, says its new label is aimed at reassuring consumers and will be backed by rigorous testing.

“There’s a vulnerability here that the industry is addressing,” said Michael J. Potter, the founder and president of Eden Foods and a board member of the Non-GMO Project, the organization responsible for the testing and labeling campaign.

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rico, suave's avatar

By rico, suave, September 2, 2009 at 4:52 am Link to this comment

flawed_human:

I’m not talking about money and control, I’m talking about the pure mechanics of crop yield. Like it or not, you can grow a whole lot more Monsanto corn or soybeans on an acre of land than you can Farmer Brown’s generations old family seed stock. And where are you going to find all that idyllic pastureland for your beef cattle?

We can cry all day long about how agribusiness and their fleet of lawyers are evil to the core, but that merely ignores the real debate whether GMOs, feeding more people using less land than ever before, are a good or bad thing.

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By flawed_human, August 30, 2009 at 6:34 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“...GMOs are here to stay. If we eliminate them, we’d have to at least quintuple the amount of land under the plow worldwide to maintain current food production levels”

That’s propaganda, not the truth.

The truth is, agribusiness spends billions in pursuit of CONTROL, not in an effort to streamline the production of food, or make more of it available worldwide. 

Agribusiness has two big cash GMO crops - soybeans, and corn.  The large-scale production of these crops adds enormously to a series of social costs.  Farmers may not clean seeds, because the seeds are property.  So they spend on seeds.  Monsanto, who owns the patents on the seeds, spends billions on flesh-eating lawyers, chasing down anyone who might accidentally have a Monsanto seed in their field. Farmers who grow corn sell a lot of the corn as feed for cattle and chickens.  Feeding corn to cattle is terrible for their health, and they suffer horrible infections which then need to be treated with antibiotics.  Once the cattle are ready to move from feedlot to slaughterhouse, many of them can barely stand up.  So in order not to be hit with thousands of recalls, the meat industry spends billions “cleaning” meat with ammonia before releasing it for public consumption.

If you put cattle in a field of grass, your work is basically done.  They roam around, eat the grass, fertilize the grass, and remain disease free.  Then you can humanely slaughter them and eat the meat with no worries…the catch is, agribusiness doesn’t profit. So, of course, the media says “we need GMOs to feed the world”.  What rubbish!

See the movie “Food Inc.” before you laud GMOs.

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By Susan, August 30, 2009 at 12:04 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

PatrickHenry,  I wonder if you are aware of how corrupt the FDA is ?  Google Codex Alimentarus.

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G.Anderson's avatar

By G.Anderson, August 30, 2009 at 9:35 am Link to this comment

GMO’s maybe here to stay in America where Corporate farming and corporate interests dominate, but that’s not the case in the rest of the world.

The corporate insanity of GMO’s has yet to make much headway in Europe. There have also been massive protests against Herbacide use in Argentina, and American beef in South Korea. 

The chief barriers to expansion of Organic farming are psychological, not monetary.

To the high cost of using petro chemicals to farm, and adding, only N, P, K to soils, must be added the high costs of health care issues for people whose food has practically no nutrional value.

To these costs must also be added the the costs of increase in cancer rates, heart disease, and metabolic syndrome.

In addition there are also the costs of infertility, and probable tetrogenesis, of herbacides like Atrazine, and Glyphosate. 

Then there is also the cost of government subsidies that keep GMO’s, cheap compared to sustainable, organic agriculture.

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By Susan, August 30, 2009 at 8:02 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

PatrickHenry - Have a look at Hulu.com video called
“The Future Of Food” . You might reconsider expanding government regulation of food production.
Monsanto needs to be dealt with….

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rico, suave's avatar

By rico, suave, August 30, 2009 at 7:01 am Link to this comment

It’s all well and good to come up with a “natural” or “organic” standard, but GMOs are here to stay. If we eliminate them, we’d have to at least quintuple the amount of land under the plow worldwide to maintain current food production levels. Because of GMOs there’s a lot less starvation in the world. “Natural” and “organic” food sources are a luxury unaffordable by poorer food consumers.

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G.Anderson's avatar

By G.Anderson, August 29, 2009 at 5:09 pm Link to this comment

The Bio Tech industries will not be happy with this, neither will the FDA, USDA, EPA… because their job is to protect the profits of Agribusiness, not the consumer.

Recently, there was a switch to sugar produced with genetically altered sugar beets, so almost everyone comes in contact with GMO’s in their diet.

Since no one knows, for sure what the effects of exposure to GMO’s does anyway, the food companies and revolving door government regulatory agencies, are playing Russian Roulette with people’s health, for the sake of profit.

No one can be sure, of what protiens they are getting when the eat GMO’s, nor do scientists understand the role of protein folding in diseases, like NVCJD.

The topography of DNA, is not very well understood, thus inserting new DNA into an existing DNA molecule may create unstable forms,that have the potential to cause prion like disease in humans.

It may well be that Mad Cow diesease was caused by genetic engineering of Cattle, rather than exposure to rendered beef.

Another example of GMO’s in food is the insertion of human DNA, in pork to make it leaner, what role this plays in the ease with which Swine Flu passes into humans, is beyond the capacity of our health organizations to assess.

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PatrickHenry's avatar

By PatrickHenry, August 29, 2009 at 3:40 pm Link to this comment

If the federal government has to be expanded it should be with the FDA, USDA, EPA, OSHA, SEC and other regulatory functions, cut back the military.

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