> Hi Everyone,
> At the risk of being a heretic (yes, you have permission
> to burn me at the
> stake), I'd like to ask for comments on the use of GMO's and
> antibiotics for
> organic production.
What I am really uncomfortable about is using this forum for the
discussion of the organic standards. That said, I'll do it anyway,
since there are plenty of people here who seem interested. But if I get
lots of complaints, I'll quit.
The reasoning is complex for the GMO issue. A great many people in
recent years came to purchase organic food specifically and only because
of their adamant opposition to the patenting of life forms. This
opposition is for many reasons which I'll not get into here. This
influx was very noticable to me since I was an organic consumer prior to
any public concern over GMOs and I had not really been paying much
attention to developments in this field. However, the very useful
division of materials into categories of synthetic and natural (before
the word twisters managed to make the terms useless) made it clear that
the GMOs were themselves synthetic. So there was no need to change
anything for organic foods to meet the needs of the anti GMO folks.
I personally, if I were the despot of the planet, would permit GE
chymosin for cheesemaking and absolutely no other GE product that I know
about. But, IF I had to surrender my ability to exclude all the other
stuff simply to allow the GE-chymosin, then it would be a bad deal and I
would exclude GE-chymosin to preserve the greater benefit, and would no
doubt be branded an antiscientific extremist, as has in fact occurred.
But this is not due to my understanding of science, it is due to my
observations of how policy seems to morph in ugly ways.
I think that the unwillingness to budge on certain issues does not fit
well with the opposite philosophy of compromise, regulate, and
standardize. The fundamental problem with national organic standards is
right in the beginning:
"This national program
is intended to facilitate interstate commerce and marketing of fresh and
processed food that is organically produced and to
assure consumers that such products meet consistent, uniform standards."
I don't have any interest in facilitating interstate commerce.
How could a standard with this as its primary goal possibly serve the
same needs as those of the environmentally minded food buyer? Why would
anybody expect it to?
I do not find that consistent and uniform standards in ANY realm tend to
produce the very best result, and being standard and uniform is also not
a goal of mine. The entire rule is highly unlikely to produce anything
I care about, and is likely to damage a number of things I do care
about. Consistent and uniform? That's like fine dining under the
golden arches of you know where. Fine for some, not for me.
I'm afraid that most of the analyses of why people will not compromise
certain things involve such deeply rooted and unexamined assumptions
that it is very difficult to bridge the gap. The data you collect will
not tell you what you think they will.
The nature of your questions seem to imply that a person who cannot back
up a personal preference with peer reviewed scientific literature should
not be allowed to make choices based on those preferences. I think that
it was that unstated assumption, manifest throughout the document, which
made the public so angry about the first draft of the organic
standards. But most people are not so good at articulating or even
identifying what they are upset about. There is an element of violence
in forcing upon people what they have said they do not want. The way to
gain their trust is to respect their wishes. If I don't have a patented
product to sell, I don't have to care about how long that takes or
whether they ever change their minds or not. The folks think that they
can buy whatever they want, simply because they want it, even if it
seems silly, and even if it IS silly, as long as it does not injure
How will my not buying "roundup-ready" tofu injure somebody else? The
burden of proof is on you.
And many of those you might want to ask will suspect, with some good
reason, that anybody digging for this information will only use it to
try to prevent them from getting what they really want. So why tell the
truth about your position to someone you do not have any reason to
> GMO's is the organic community ultimately shooting itself in the foot?
"The organic community" is another fiction. Anything based on its
existence will be a flawed analysis. In particular, the industry
interested in global trade and harmonization has little overlap with
smaller organic farms or the interests of american consumers. So
"Organic Community" means the big guys, by default.
> use of GMO's is limiting to nutritional enhancement of the crop > would it be
The idea is that the burden of proof is upon the proponent of the
change. How would you demonstrate that it isn't possible to get a
nutritionally complete diet without using products which did not exist
until 1990? YOu would have have a lot of explaining to do, like how
have we managed so far?
Many new technologies, viewed in the long term, are seen as "solutions"
to problems which were caused by the short sighted application of other
technologies. This looks a lot like yet another example.
I don't know if this is helpful, but I think much of the opposition has
been misinterpreted, sometimes intentionally and sometimes unknowingly.
Interested in what others have to say.
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