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Date:

June 1, 2000

Subject:

Organic food

 

Again, Dr. Houseal is quite passionate about organic foods, however, I
repeat my challenge: If one can demonstrate qualitative differences
between organic foods over conventionally-grown foods, then the "USDA
Certified Organic" label can be called something other than a marketing
tool. Otherwise, it is only that.

These are not simply semantic arguments. The public relies on the
government for accurate, factual, and science-based information--most
especially where food safety and nutrition are concerned. No one is
attempting to limit anyone's access to organic foods. They are and have
been readily available for years. There are several effective
private-sector organizations certifying food as organically grown. But
until science can demonstrate the qualitative differences in organic
foods, then they do not deserve a government seal of approval that implies
to consumers that the food is safer, healthier, or better. That is why we
at the Center for Global Food Issues argue for text on such a label
clarifying that it is only a marketing tool.

If you are a doctor, Dr. Houseal, then you will understand the need for
such a scientific grounding and basis.
_____________________________________

Date: Jun 01 2000 12:29:00 EDT
From: Zeami2000@aol.com
Subject: Re: Organic labels, quacks, Greenpeace colonialism, Irish teens

In a message dated 6/1/00 8:41:31 AM Central Daylight Time,
aavery@rica.net writes:

<< If one can demonstrate qualitative differences between organic foods
over conventionally-grown foods, then the "USDA Certified Organic" label
can be called something other than a marketing tool. Otherwise, it is only
that. >>

This is FALSE. Organic is a production method, free of chemicals and
pesticides. That's not marketing, that's agricultural method. You might
want to add " no claims can be made about nutritional superiority by USDA
standards", but to say organic is the same as conventional food is false,
and irresponsible.

Your fear is the label becomes tantamount to government acknowledgement
that organic food is superior to conventional food. Food covered in
pesticides is different than food not covered in pesticides. Ingesting
pesticides is not the same as not ingesting pesticides. The techniques are
undeniably different; debatably superior.

The method of production, and not your nutritional measurement system, is
the certifiable, demonstrable difference. It is meaningful, not imaginary.
It's hard when customary standards outgrow their usefulness, and this
issue of changing standards may open up a Pandora's box of labeling and
regulatory matters, but greeting that possibility by relentlessly
asserting two different things are the same, is not helpful.

best regards Joseph
____________________________________________________

Date: Jun 01 2000 16:34:30 EDT
From: Zeami2000@aol.com
Subject: Re: Organic labels, quacks, Greenpeace colonialism, Irish teens

In a message dated 6/1/00 8:41:31 AM Central Daylight Time,
aavery@rica.net
writes:

<< If you are a doctor, Dr. Houseal, then you will understand the need
for such a scientific grounding and basis. >>

What I spent a good deal of time working on was modifying and improving
the method, as I watched the means by which western academia annoints
something as "knowledge" consistently fail to address, match or illuminate
many salient qualites of what I was investigating. What goes by science,
especially in biotech today, is reductionist, where proof comes when
elements are isolated and causes proven by statistics. The
scientific results are more like the test than the subject matter. This is
especially true in mathematics. This is obviously not how nature, the
universe or anything, for that matter, really functions. Scientific method
today is not like nature.
So we have seen the advent of relativity, chaos and complexity theories
and the beginnings of sciences of wholeness which are often more
qualitative than quantitative sciences, and are still in stages of
infancy. So, yes, I understand academic rigor; I doubt the
comprehensiveness and infallibility of reductionist processes, especially
as we move into the future. I hope for the development of a science more
like the world it explores.

Best regards
Joseph Houseal
________________________________________________________

Date: Jun 02 2000 13:36:23 EDT
From: "Clothier, Jeffrey"
Subject: RE: Organic labels, quacks, Greenpeace colonialism, Irish teens

The fact that the term "organic food" and the concept itself are marketing
tools ( and they clearly are, or else there would be no big splashy labels
on "organic" products ) is not necessarily a bad thing. I wish "organic"
growers all the luck in the world. Currently they are able to charge a
premium price for their products and more power to them.

There is simply no reason why biotech and "organic" cannot peacefully
coexist. However, it is the "organics" who are on the offensive, not the
biotech industry. In this they err, because if they succeed in their quest
to eliminate production agriculture, biotech, and the commodity system as
they seem bent on doing, and have everybody grubbing in the dirt by hand
then there goes their premium and their profit margin. Food prices will
skyrocket and their industry would be demonized the way biotech is today.

Jeff Clothier
Web Coordinator
Employee Communications
Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc.
Des Moines, IA 50306
____________________________________________________

Subj: Re: Organic labels
Date: Thu, 1 Jun 2000 1:29:00 PM Eastern Daylight Time
From: Thomas Bjorkman

Alex Avery seems to be barking up an empty tree on organic labels. Subpart
D of the proposed rule says the following: "After consideration of
alternative labeling terms that handlers might wish to use to qualify or
modify the term, "organic," we have determined that handlers may not
qualify or modify the term,
"organic," using adjectives such as, "pure" or "healthy,"e.g., "pure
organic beef" or "healthy organic celery." The term, "organic," is used in
labeling to indicate a certified system of agricultural production and
handling. Terms such as "pure," "healthy," and other similar adjectives
attribute hygienic,compositional, or nutritional characteristics to
products.

Use of such adjectives misrepresents products produced under the organic
system of agriculture as having special qualities as a result of being
produced under the organic system. Furthermore,use of such adjectives
would incorrectly imply that products labeled in this manner are different
from other "organic"products that are not so labeled. "

That text says exactly what Avery is asking for. The subject of whether
organic could be labeled as healthier was dealt with at length when
developing the rule. The National Organic Standards Board
never requested the ability to make such claims. Such claims are not made
by US certifying agencies with which I am familiar. I could find no
reference to such claims being permitted in either the EU rules or
the Codex Alimentaricus. I don't see where the rule is trying to mislead,
nor where there has been an official effort to make misleading claims.
_______________________________________________

Subj: Re: Responses to Dr. Houseal
Date: Fri, 2 Jun 2000 1:27:19 AM Eastern Daylight Time
From: Andrew Apel

Dr. Houseal exemplifies the adage: "For those with faith, proof is
unnecessary; for those without faith, no proof is enough." He has faith in
organic food, therefore scientific proofs are unnecessary; he has no faith
in science, therefore no scientific proofs will ever be enough.

Those who follow activist rhetoric will find this theme familiar.
_________________________________________________