Oh dear, *spiteful and venomous* I assure you that there was no intention in that direction though my curmudgeon*s heart is delighted that you read such into my comments. Perhaps I have had to read, listen to and be the brunt of so many organic community/industry diatribes that I have begun to reflect their total lack of civility.
I apologize to every one, I have kept my mouth shut for a long time and after this response and one other to Laurie Drinkwater*s recent post, I am going to shut my mouth and go back to lurking and biting my tongue. I consider the whole organic debate great spectator sport and almost every post I see makes me happier that I am no longer involved in it in any way.
Any comment that I make here is purely my opinion and does not reflect the Departments continuing commitment to and work on the organic program and organic research.
As far as disdain for IFOAM is concerned I think that Bart put the full picture before you and I need not repeat or paraphrase any of that.
My perspective on organic standards, after having read most of the standards that have been written in or translated into English and having visited well over one hundred organic operations, both farms and processors, is that the organic community/industry has many standards about which they have many meetings, meeting the standards however is not a high priority.
If any of my colleagues in the government or among our corporate clients are making attempts to discredit organics I would quickly advise them that they would be better served keeping their comments to themselves. They could not be nearly as effective at discrediting the organic community/industry as the organic folks are at discrediting themselves. My experience by the way is that there are a number of corporations and many government scientist who are very supportive of the organic market place and research oriented toward understanding of organic methods and particularly organic production problems. I think that it is really important that we not silence rational voices of caution on either side of any issue. It seems to me that debate and replication of research are critical elements of scientific progress.
I believe that during the seventies and the eighties the organic movement did offer some critical leadership and created a quasi-legitimate break from the pack. That leadership may have parented the *sustainable* movement. If the organic movement had been able to adjust to the past decade their was the opportunity to move back out onto the cutting edge. It does not appear to me that the parochial and protectionist stand taken by IFOAM and its minions will allow that to happen. They will be aided by the discordant and disorganized organic community/industry here in the US. Indeed I firmly believe that there will emerge very shortly a gaggle of sustainable/ecological/green labels, that will be corporate brand names or commodity trademarks and that will dominate the market and leave organic to its tiny niche.
I personally consider the distribution issue, out of which many of the social issues naturally emerge, more important than the soil based system of agro-ecosystem management concept. However, I think that trying to solve all those related issues within the *organic* concept is suicidal both practically and politically.
Where are the real leaders of an agricultural reformation in the twenty first century? Some you will never know, some that you do know are people like Joel Salatin and Steve Groff, I wonder if either of them bother to read the pronouncements of IFOAM?
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