The organic movement is no longer an organic movement. It’s become an anti-technology movement.
The organic industry’s multibillion dollar revenues are driven entirely by negative marketing, stoking fear of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). A handful of consumers might still buy organic groceries believing them to be purer, more nutritious and easier on the environment. But the majority buy organic out of fear of technologies that have proven completely safe and beneficial.
Fearmongering has now become a self-fulfilling prophecy in the food industry, the sine qua non of every organic advertising campaign, sanctioned and in many cases funded by the very regulatory bodies that are supposed to keep the organic industry honest. Even if activists were to abandon their unfounded attacks on modern farming, they can no longer return to the positive messaging that launched their enterprise. Alas, the basis of that message no longer exists.
Imagine being so focused on destroying your competition that you fail to uphold the integrity of your own product line. In America, the most lucrative organic market in the world, organic imports from countries like China and Turkey now dominate, leaving just 0.7 percent of American farmland registered as organic, a rise of only 2 percent over the last eight years. Organic sales meanwhile account for 4 percent of food sales, meaning grocery retailers are selling imported organic food 80 percent of the time! An unprecedented shift considering American organic farmers enjoyed 100 percent market share just a decade ago.
Adding insult to injury, this shift coincides with an astonishing increase in organic food-borne illness outbreaks. While American organic sales account for 4 percent of grocery sales, they’re responsible for 7 percent of food recalls, almost double what one would expect, 10-times America’s flatlining organic acreage, strongly suggesting that imports are not being scrutinized.
How could this be? Simple. First, President Bush doubled budget and staffing at the USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP), then President Obama tripled what Bush left him. But both failed to require field testing as outlined in NOP Standards, while turning a blind eye as America’s organic leadership attacked modern, science-based farming.
On top of America’s deplorable organic trade imbalance and the rise in organic food-borne illnesses, this lack of field testing has also resulted in more than 40 percent of all organic food testing positive for synthetic pesticides at the store shelf. Some blame spray drift from neighboring conventional fields, but this is scientifically impossible, leaving fraud as the only possible explanation. Multibillion-dollar, tax-subsidized fraud.
And what has been the Trump administration’s response? Thus far, nothing. Not one person has been retired, fired or reassigned at the NOP. To be fair to President Trump and his Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Purdue, it’s got to be difficult to make sound agricultural policy when you’re being accused of collusion with the Russians and war-mongering, to say nothing of the constant barrage of charges of racism. But whatever your politics, try seeing this from the perspective of those who feed us.
Whether we’re talking about a small-scale domestic organic farmer, or a large-scale conventional farmer, the promise to “Drain the Swamp” in Washington came as a welcome relief after 16 years of disinformation, wasteful spending, and zero oversight and enforcement. For anyone not blinded by conspiracy theories, the fundamental priority of feeding a nation is second only to defense and infrastructure. Yet Trump and Purdue find themselves distracted, and there seems no end in sight to the USDA’s contradictory support for modern farming right alongside its well-funded organic office that stands opposed to science and technology, almost without exception.
If America provides any lesson to the rest of the world, it would be that this multibillion-dollar, global-organic ruse is guaranteed to continue for years to come. Being organic used to mean something. But now, grocery retailers that profit from organic food sales do so thanks to a combination of ineptitude, ignorance and fraud, aided and abetted by the authority of governments throughout the developed world.
Farmers and consumers are trapped. Food production now stands alone as the only sector of a developed economy that rejects technology instead of embracing it. And so far, there’s no way out.