Your comments are, as usual perceptive--to a large extent I agree that the
battle for a rational foundation of organic rulemaking has been lost. It
is still a damn shame to have to accept that what consumers want in this
case is at odds with scientific (or philosophic) defensibility. Once upon
a time we thought we could have both.
At 09:32 AM 3/14/00 -0600, Wilson, Dale wrote:
>> IMHO, the division of materials into "synthetic" and "natural"
>> is not only NOT useful, but is the root cause of most of the insanity
>> that has dragged the organic discussion down the drain of debating
>> materials lists as opposed to concentrating on assessing a holistic
>> management system.
>I think you are underestimating a main driving force behind the movement.
>Most organic enthusiasts believe that there is a fundamental difference
>between synthetic substances and "natural" things. IMO this stems from an
>essentialist (Platonic) and dualistic worldview. I suspect that the
>committed customer base really is focused on substances and their essential
>> The point is to establish principles for making distinctions that
>> have some relationship to the ecological concepts on which organic
>> was (once upon a time) founded.
>I don't think we should view this as a scientific issue. There is a divide
>between the scientific community and committed organics people. The divide
>reflects deep philosophical differences.
>> Our goal, perhaps naively, was to develop uniform standards for a
>> production process, not product quality--this is very compatible with
>> environmentally minded food buyers.
>I think most people buy organic food because they believe there is a quality
>difference. There may not *really* be any difference in quality, but the
>market behaves like there is. It seems like the USDA was torn between
>serving the needs of the market, and producing scientifically defensible
>recommendations. The USDA finally decided to do what the organic farming
>community desires rather than make scientific pronouncements. I think that
>was the right decision.
>PS: Don't panic, buy organic!
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