What do organic labels really mean?

px USDA organic seal svg

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis.

Organic farming has boomed in recent years . . . A primary driver of their success has been the USDA-regulated organic label, which implies to many consumers that these food products are somehow superior.

But that is not what the label actually means. Nor is it true. Nor, arguably, is the label constitutional.

. . . .

At the release of the final national organic standards in 2000, Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman emphasized the fundamental meaninglessness of the designation: “Let me be clear about one thing, the organic label is a marketing tool. It is not a statement about food safety. Nor is ‘organic’ a value judgment about nutrition or quality.”

. . . .

Ironically, the organic label that is the touchstone of the National Organic Program may have now become its Achilles heel. A 2015 U.S. Supreme Court case, Reed v. the Town of Gilbert, strengthens the basis for a challenge to its constitutionality.

That decision calls into question the legality of special labeling to identify foods produced by a particular process unrelated to the health or safety of the protected product. Information required on labels is considered to be “commercial speech,” which must therefore conform to the speech requirements of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The essence of the Reed case is that special labeling laws are subject to “strict scrutiny,” the most rigorous standard of review for constitutionality. . . .

Because the USDA organic designation is based on food production processes and procedures unrelated to quality, health or safety, there is no compelling interest, and it fails strict scrutiny.

Read full, original post: When food labels mislead

Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
Talking Biotech
Genetics Unzipped
ft covidresponseus feature

Video: Viewpoint: The US wrote the global playbook on the coronavirus and then ignored it

A year ago, the United States was regarded as the country best prepared for a pandemic. Our government had spent ...
mag insects image superjumbo v

Disaster interrupted: Which farming system better preserves insect populations: Organic or conventional?

A three-year run of fragmentary Armageddon-like studies had primed the journalism pumps and settled the media framing about the future ...
dead bee desolate city

Are we facing an ‘Insect Apocalypse’ caused by ‘intensive, industrial’ farming and agricultural chemicals? The media say yes; Science says ‘no’

The media call it the “Insect Apocalypse”. In the past three years, the phrase has become an accepted truth of ...
globalmethanebudget globalcarbonproject cropped x

Infographic: Cows cause climate change? Agriculture scientist says ‘belching bovines’ get too much blame

A recent interview by Caroline Stocks, a UK journalist who writes about food, agriculture and the environment, of air quality ...
organic hillside sweet corn x

Organic v conventional using GMOs: Which is the more sustainable farming?

Many consumers spend more for organic food to avoid genetically modified products in part because they believe that “industrial agriculture” ...
benjamin franklin x

Are most GMO safety studies funded by industry?

The assertion that biotech companies do the research and the government just signs off on it is false ...
gmo corn field x

Do GMO Bt (insect-resistant) crops pose a threat to human health or the environment?

Bt is a bacterium found organically in the soil. It is extremely effective in repelling or killing target insects but ...

Environmental Working Group: EWG challenges safety of GMOs, food pesticide residues

Known by some as the "Environmental Worrying Group," EWG lobbies for tighter GMO legislation and famously puts out annual "dirty dozen" list of fruits and ...
m hansen

Michael Hansen: Architect of Consumers Union ongoing anti-GMO campaign

Michael K. Hansen (born 1956) is thought by critics to be the prime mover behind the ongoing campaign against agricultural biotechnology at Consumer Reports. He is an ...
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend