Re the 20/20 hit-piece on organics -- One reason that people like Avery
and Stoessel are well paid to do what they do is that the organic industry
is beginning to make solid strides in some major parts of the food
industry. Part of the conventional food industry feels threatened and is
viscerally opposed to everything the organic industry stands for. These
same companies tend to be the most pro-GMO. They will keep Avery and
Stoessel-types in business and will buy them air-time one way or another.
The organic industry needs to prepare for a continuing barrage of
attack-media, both here and abroad. The same sort of hit-pieces are being
placed in British and French publications.
Another set of companies, constituting the majority of the conventional
industry, is hedging their bet by getting involved in organics, but slowly
and tepidly. These companies are followers and tend to wait and see which
way the wind is blowing before making any decisive move.
A third part of the food industry is getting involved with organics
because they actually have come to believe it is the best way to farm for
the land, to produce high quality and safe food, to assure safe working
conditions for farm workers and other employees and neighbors, and to
assure a profit at the end of the day. Many of these same companies are
either openly anti-GMO or likely to be among the first wave of companies
announcing policies to avoid GMO foods to the full extent practical.
Evidence suggests that the companies in the third group are prospering for
the same reasons that companies in the first group are losing market
share. General Mills has bought Small Planet Foods (Cascadian, Fantastic
Foods, Muir Glenn) and is seriously flirting with a no-GMO policy; it
recently passed Kellogg in market share for the first time. If General
Mills continues to win over Kellogg customers at least in part because of
these policies, watch for Kellogg to make a move. That will break the dam
wide open and the pace of change in the food industry will accelerate.
The last couple issues of "The Packer" have included a remarkable full
page add by Earthbound Farm Organic. It features a picture of Rick Antle,
President of Tanimura and Antle, the world's largest lettuce producer and
one of the largest vegetable growers in the world. Mr. Antle is looking
back over his shoulder with a smile, wearing a tie-dyed teeshirt with a
peace sign-like graphic on the back. On the top part of the circle around
the peace sign appears the word "Organic" and on the bottom part of the
circle, the words "The Biggest Revolution Since the 1960s."
The tagline on top of the ad reads -- "The Meaning of Conventional Depends
on Who You Follow."
The short text/message reads -- "The organic revolution is upon us...In
the 21st century, organic is conventional wisdom."
At EcoFarm this year, it was reported that the Calif. Dept. of Food and
Agriculture had already received over 200 applications this year for
organic certification from farms that have not previously been in the
organic program. This was in addition to hundreds of applications for
expanded/new acreage by growers already certified, according to the CDFA
person at the meeting.
The momentum fueling growth in the organic industry is rooted too deeply
for a 20/20 broadcast to reach. P.R.-driven attacks on organic will
back-fire and trigger yet more evidence that people really care about the
food they eat and how it is grown.
In my opinion, it will be more effective if consumers and NGO activism
remain positive and dedicated to rewarding those companies moving in the
right direction. At the end of the day people want to feel good about the
food they eat and will respond stronger to positive messages and hopeful
Charles Benbrook CU FQPA site www.ecologic-ipm.com
Benbrook Consulting Services Ag BioTech InfoNet www.biotech-info.net
5085 Upper Pack River Road IPM site www.pmac.net
Sandpoint, Idaho 83864
208-263-5236 (Voice) 208-263-7342 (Fax)
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