Editor’s Note: This is the third in a series of articles by Mischa Popoff and Jay Lehr on modern agriculture and organic farming.
Now that you know organic food isn’t always free of pesticides and synthetic nitrogen fertilizer, a situation made possible by the complete lack of field testing at the federal level in the organic industry, you could be forgiven for feeling compelled to throw your arms up in the air and say, “Who the heck cares?” But that’s where you must stop and take stock. This up-and-coming “green” alternative which claims to provide food that is free of these things is not only ripping off millions of unwitting consumers who’ve been converted to the politics of organic food-production, but also tens-of-millions of average, uncommitted-and-yet-concerned consumers who’ve been led to believe there’s a scientific guarantee in the USDA’s organic label.
There isn’t. And as long as the organic activists have their way, there never will be.
To sum up thus far, an elaborate marketing subterfuge is being carried out under the USDA’s good name, and the leaders of the organic movement perpetrate this subterfuge not by demonstrating why organic food is better but by laying waste to the public’s confidence in our conventional food system. As a result, food safety is no longer taken for granted by consumers at large. In fact, there’s a sentiment growing among average, everyday, politically unaffiliated consumers that although they can’t always afford certified-organic food, it is indeed safer, purer, more nutritious, and more sustainable, and scientifically proven to be so.
Indeed, many if not most consumers wish they could afford to buy organic all of the time. If only they knew the truth, they’d be quite happy with consuming regular food all of the time.
Keep in mind that even at the best of times, only the first two of the claims made about organic food can even possibly be true. Organic food could, someday, be provably purer and more nutritious than regular food, but it will never be safer, and it is simply impossible for it to be more sustainable. It’s time to set things straight and defend the modern farmer, the honest, hard-working organic, non-organic, conventional, and biotech farmers across America who dedicate themselves to producing safe, reliable, and perfectly nutritious food.
Activists’ False Equation
Anyone who spends his or her hard-earned money on food gets to “vote” each time a purchase is made. If you know an organic farmer you trust, or if there’s a particular brand of organic food that for whatever reason you trust, then by all means, buy organic. But if you’ve ever wondered what exactly is supposed to be so bad about conventional food, you should resist the claims of the leaders of the organic movement that there is actually a way to produce pristine food without having any impact on the environment.
Producing more food is a good thing, and attacking the conventional and biotech food sectors because they’re supposedly “too efficient” is nothing less than a recipe for disaster. The leaders of the organic movement have no compunction about admitting their goal is to try to take humankind “forward” by taking food production backward. That is patently absurd.
This activist sect claims humankind’s impact (I) on the planet can be mathematically represented by the number of people (P) times their affluence (A) times technology (T). This is known in environmentalist circles as the “I PAT” formula and is expressed thus:
I = P x A x T
As you can see, any increase—to the population of humans living on the planet, their quality of life, or the level of technology available to them—results in an increased human impact on the environment. But by all truly scientific accounts, we should divide by technology, not multiply by it, like this:
I = P x A / T
For it is through technology that we lessen our impact on the planet, not increase it. And nowhere is this better and more consistently evidenced than in the field of agriculture. Producing more food on less land helps preserve the environment.
Mischa Popoff ([email protected]) is a former organic farmer, a USDA-accredited organic crop inspector, and author of the book Is It Organic? Jay Lehr (jleh[email protected]) is science director of The Heartland Institute.