Is it ORGANIC?
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Is it Organic?
In response to 84 bills launched by organic activists in no fewer than 29 states, to label or ban GMOs, the executives at GMO companies like Monsanto, Bayer and Syngenta have decided it's time for a national, voluntary, GMO labelling law... a federal law that they believe will magically sweep away all of these state-level initiatives aimed at ending the legal use of GMO crops.
But there's no such thing as magic, especially when it comes to anti-GMO organic activists who will stop at nothing to impede or ban this field of science. My humble advice is that we DO NOT agree, under any circumstances, to label GMO foods, and that we take a more prudent approach to defending farmers' rights.
Sadly, a bill now being championed by Republican Rep. Mike Pompeo seeks to do just that... to label GMO foods. And with the full support of every commodity group, farm bureau and ag-industry-group across the land, it risks playing right into the hands of tax-subsidized, urban, anti-GMO organic activists who seek to take American agriculture backwards in time.
Pompeo’s bill is for food manufacturers and changes absolutely nothing from a regulatory perspective. Yes, there is verbiage for the FDA to take action IF a GMO crop is ever shown to cause health problems. But that’s just boilerplate. It is already the duty of the FDA to protect the public from ANY crop – whether GMO or otherwise – that might be shown to cause harm. You can just ignore that part of Pompeo's bill.
Pompeo’s bill is a voluntary program for GMO labelling, and that's the part that has some organic activists upset because they would prefer mandatory GMO labelling. But, on the whole, organic activists are quietly supportive of Pompeo's bill.
Pompeo's bill kicks in only when GMO content is above a certain level. It thereby establishes – for the first time ever in America – a threshold level for GMO content.
Below that level:
Above that level:
So think about it… what do you think will happen when organic product – whether it's crop in the field, or flour in a loaf of certified-organic bread – is found to be above Pompeo’s threshold level for GMO content?
Clearly an organic crop with GMO content that is ABOVE Pompeo's threshold level cannot be sold as GMO-free. We all know "GMO-free" is the single most-important marketing feature of the organic industry. So how long do you think it will be before activist-backed organic farmers launch lawsuits against their neighbors for elevating their organic crops above this level that Pompeo's bill will set?
At present, under the USDA National Organic Program – the law of the land since 2002 – there is NO threshold limit for GMO content.
At present, nothing would happen in such a situation as described above where an organic crop became "contaminated" by a neighboring GMO crop in excess of Pompeo's threshold level for GMO content.
Organic activists can squawk all they want. But at no point does GMO comingling or cross-pollination become a problem for a neighboring farmer’s organic certification. Not ever… not at any level.
And this is because, as everyone knows, GMOs have never been shown to pose a health risk. Even organic activists know this.
So, under current law...
The best part is that everything described here is from rules that organic stakeholders from all across America wrote for themselves during the Clinton Administration; rules which have propelled the organic industry to exponential growth and which no one can possibly claim have been bad for the organic industry.
This is why - for all the squawking we hear from organic activists in the media - there has never been a single case anywhere in America (in the world in fact) where an organic farmer’s crop was de-certified due to alleged GMO “contamination." NOT ONE CASE!
The only possible exception is in the area of certified-organic SEED production. But in those cases a different set of rules that pre-date the writing of America's standards on organic production come into play, rules that place all the responsibility for keeping seed stock pure on the seed grower, not his neighbor.
There have been many lawsuits brought forth by organic farmers for contamination of their crops by pesticides. Unlike GMOs, pesticides are known to be dangerous at certain threshold levels, which is why pesticide manufacturers put warning labels on their products.
Pesticides are dangerous above certain levels. GMOs, however, are not, not at any level.
This is why I've joined with academics like Patrick Moore, Klaus Amman, Robert Zubrin and Jay Lehr to inform people THAT THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS CONTAMINATION OF AN ORGANIC CROP BY GMOs. (For recent articles, click here, here, here, here, here and here.)
Pompeo’s bill - if it passes - will henceforth make it possible - one might even say probable - for organic crops to be perceived to have become “contaminated” with GMOs.
The door will henceforth be wide-open for activist-organic farmers to sue their GMO neighbors for supposedly ruining the GMO-free organic status of their crops. Again, this is something organic farmers cannot currently do.
Pompeo's bill will change the face of science-based agriculture in America forever, and put American farming in line with European, Russian and Chinese farming which rejects the science of genetic engineering. And, you may rest assured, it will be impossible to put the genie back in the bottle after Washington lets it out.
My humble advice is to NOT support Pompeo's bill, and to instead continue the principled fight against GMO labelling and banning at the state and county levels. It might not be easy, but it will be worth it.
If Pompeo's voluntary GMO labelling bill passes, life will become very, very difficult for American farmers, and soon for consumers as well.
For consultations or expert testimony, please visit my new website:
Mischa Popoff, B.A. (Hons.) U. of S. and USDA-contract IOIA Organic Inspector
Policy Advisor for The Heartland Institute
Research Associate for The Frontier Centre for Public Policy
Is it Organic?