By: Susan Lam RNCP, CNP
The Organic Trade Association, which represents popular companies such as Kraft and Dean Foods, successfully lobbied to change the language of NOP’s guidelines and allow the use of harmful synthetic additives while still bearing the organic label. This allowed these companies to flood the market and stock shelves with “organic” “processed” foods– how ironic!
Existing labeling laws state that produce can be sprayed with pesticides while sold as organic and dairy from cows with no freedom to graze can be said to have “access to pasture.” The definition of “organic” is even more ambiguous for fish, which can be raised in highly polluted environments with exposure to mercury and PCB’s. These contaminated fish not only make there way to your dinner table, but also can be used to feed organic poultry and cattle.
An organic product must be grown in safe soil, be free from pesticides and synthetic materials, and be fed organic feed. The difficulty arrives from what the government defines as “safe,” “pesticide,” “synthetic,” and “organic feed.” Another challenge facing consumers is that many small farms offering pesticide free produce and truly free-range meat may be overlooked simply because they cannot afford certification. A labeling law which was originally meant to help consumers make better choices now appears to be another marketing tool for big business.