o you choose “organic” produce because it’s healthier and locally grown?
A new report on how the U.S. Department of Agriculture actually markets the organic label without any standard of certification, doesn’t do any field-testing and, through its bureaucracy grew exponentially during the Obama administration, is driving up imports from China, Turkey and other countries with disastrous safety records.
And that’s not the worst of it, says the report by the Capital Research Center.
Here are some shockers about how the “organic foods” phenomenon is costing you more, making foods less safe and costing real American organic farmers marketing share:
1. So-called “organic food” in America tests positive for synthetic pesticides four times out of 10.
2. Up to 80 percent of food labeled “organic” in American stores is imported. This increase has coincided with incidents of organic food-borne illness.
3. The USDA tripled its organic foods budget over the last eight years without requiring any field-testing of either domestically grown produce or imported.
4. During that time, tens of millions of dollars in subsidies were given to preserve the 0.7 percent of American farmland devoted to growing organic food.
5. The USDA has increased spending to $9.1 million on the organic bureaucracy, yet none of its 43 staffers are responsible for finding fraud, field-testing for safety, recalling unsafe food or encouraging domestic farming.
6. About 43 percent of the organic food sold in America tested positive for prohibited pesticide residue, according to two separate studies by two separate divisions of the USDA, conducted in 2010-2011 and 2015.
7. Organic groceries accounted for 7 percent of all food sales in America last year, but the U.S. government contracts out organic inspections to a total of 160 private individuals for the entire country. There are only 264 organic inspectors worldwide.
8. The USDA’s National Organic Program tests only finished product and only 5 percent of the time covering only pesticides, never looking for dangerous pathogens from manure. Yet synthetic pesticides show up 50 percent of the time. It took until 2010 before any field-testing at all was required by the USDA.
9. The USDA “certified” label for organic food is not based on any objective, scientific process that ensure authentic or safe produce. In fact, the program is regulated by the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service and not connected to the department’s food safety, research, inspection, nutrition or risk management services.
10. Many natural pesticides approved for organic use are more toxic than the synthetic ones used by conventional farmers.
11. Though the USDA insists on an annual onsite inspection of every organic farm and facility it certifies, the inspector (regardless of country) needs permission from the farmer or processor whose facilities he or she intends to inspect, and he or she makes an appointment weeks in advance. Individual inspectors can be refused contracts to perform inspections by any USDA-certified organic entity, with no reason required.
12. Many of the 79 certifying agencies that grant USDA organic certification to farmers and processors receive 1.5 to 3 percent of gross revenue from their clients – this “royalty” from an industry worth roughly $40 billion a year. As noted, certifiers collect these royalties only on shipments they approve.
13. Many farmers make use of manure, but usually not on crops for human consumption. Only in the organic industry is manure routinely applied to fields growing crops for humans, a practice which can be detrimental to human health – even deadly, especially when manure is not fully composted. Even so, the USDA does not require field testing for possible fecal contaminants on the organic crops it certifies, even though such testing costs less than $25 per episode.
As long as consumers believe organic food is worth more (that it is “wholesome,” “natural,” and “authentic,” so certified by the USDA) no one making money in the organic sector will be obligated to prove organic food is worth the extra cost. Meanwhile, the interests of non-organic consumers, conventional and biotech farmers, processors, and wholesalers recede as the organic movement, with its knee-jerk opposition to modern farming, dominates the debate and sets the rules.