Environment, Organic Policy and Regulations, Social Implications in Agriculture, What is Organic

If You Care About Organic, Show up for Organic

GrassrootsOnce again I find myself in the air racking up miles and enjoying the white cotton-ball clouds festooning my flight path. I cross the continent yet again to have meetings and presentations at Expo East. While my body is hurtling towards the delectable food, illuminating conferences and critical connections to come, my thoughts are set on the future of organic and the NOSB meetings in November. I want to make sure everyone who cares about organic shows up for organic in a meaningful way.

I will take just a moment to refresh those who may be neophytes in the fountain of organic regulations. When the Organic Food Production Act was written, back in the last century, it established an advisory board that is comprised of stakeholders in the organic industry. This board gives recommendations to the National Organic Program. Those early leaders (some of them still among us) established this board because they knew that the regulations would continuously evolve and transform as does nature and technology.

Twice a year this hardworking group of volunteers deemed The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) holds a meeting where everyone can attend to express their viewpoints and exfoliate their thoughts.

The stakes are often high because every 2 to 4 years approved inputs are reviewed and may be rendered unavailable in a farmer or manufacturer’s toolkit should the NOSB deem it so. This dedicated board not only reviews and revises what has come before but also what lies ahead.

How do the organic standards change and evolve with our world and our technologies?USDA Organic

The notion that a thing that stops evolving becomes a fossil scuds across my mind, much like the clouds that surge below me. This is not a new subject for these pages dear reader. Thus I feel a sense of repetitive urgency to keep this dialogue front and center.

How does organic continue to develop, transmute, maturate and transmogrify while holding true to the spirit and intent of the law? What do consumers want really want? What would Sir Albert Howard do? Is this a labeling issue or a food issue or both?

But I must digress from these ruminations to attend to the matter at hand. The next NOSB meeting is just around the corner. The agenda can be viewed right here. What’s at stake at this meeting? I can’t punctuate PLENTY with enough imminence and importunity. Two of the most far-reaching in my mind are discussions that may turn into recommendations that could lead to big changes in our industry.

BioponicsI have spilled a lot of ink on the subject of hydroponic, aquaponic, and bioponic growing systems. My last blogs have unearthed the conspicuous discussion of soil as a base for organic principles. Do consumers really care if their sweet blocky pepper was ripened in the soil or flourished its life in a container of biologically diverse organic matter?

If given a choice, would consumers rather have the option to know something is hydroponic AND grown in the cleanest most transparent way – ORGANIC? Something in my innocent prattling mind says they don’t care, and they do want the organic option.

Heirloom tomatoesIf you wish to eat luscious tomatoes and cucumbers and happen to be living in the northern hemisphere at depths of the winter Equinox, don’t you want this edible option? If you are a retailer, don’t you wish to offer these luscious soft-ripe tidbits as customers roll in the Yule? If you are a bioponic farmer already certified to organic and supporting flourishing families and businesses, I know what your answer is.

If you care about organic, this is your chance to speak and stand up for organic whatever you believe.

The other sentiment I bring up with a fair amount of trepidation as it could earn me a few of those luscious ripe tomatoes javelined across the room or across the comments of this blog.

At the next NOSB meeting, there will be discussion on excluded methods in organic production that aim to exclude some of the most cutting-edge gene editing techniques that are cavalcading to your plate faster than a team of wild horses.

I stand on the side of caution here and believe these techniques need to be modulated, regulated and coordinated by the government so they do no unintended harm. I also believe they do not belong in organic production.

There is one caveat I bring forward after several rather brilliant and thoughtful souls have whispered it in my ear.

Certain genomic seed breeding techniques and the information they provide may need more investigation and discussion.

What these techniques do is allow one to cut and edit traits out of seeds with accuracy and speed. Changes and improvements can be achieved in a few years rather than a decade or two of traditional breeding.

I only ask the questions here for you to ponder:

If some gene editing techniques are forever banned from organic seed breeding, will we eventually become a Luddite bevy of breeders? Will it slow down our ability to make the changes needed to adapt organic agriculture to the climate changes we are witnessing?

Rain on plantIf forever expelled will that brilliant university student of the future want to proceed with organic breeding using outdated tools? Will we be putting ourselves at a disadvantage in the race to heal the planet of unsustainable farming practices? I don’t know the answers.

This seedy discussion needs to happen, and all minds must consider the long-term consequences. That is why it’s important that you show up for organic this fall.

You can attend in person November 16-18th and join the discussion in St. Louis, MO. The deadline to submit written comments and to sign up to present oral comments is October 26th. Your oral comments can be delivered in person during the St. Louis meetings or via a public comment webinar on Thursday, November 3rd.

Written comments on NOSB proposals and other topics can be submitted at Regulations.gov. The docket is open now so there must be no delay.

If you care about organic, show up for organic and get involved in the NOSB process. Let’s allow organic agriculture to evolve and thrive through forward thinking and innovative design.

Will  I see you there?

22 thoughts on “If You Care About Organic, Show up for Organic”

  1. Clearly you are in the air “racking up miles” frequently and it seems with some delight. Why are you involved in organics? Surely first and foremost organic agriculture is about protecting and sustaining the planet. Air travel is a big contributor to greenhouse gasses. Surely we in the organic sector should be leading the way in minimizing the damage they cause. Can’t we find other ways of doing our business that don’t cause so much damage.

  2. Sticking to Organic FOOD means TO LEAVE THE GENES ALONE AND DO NOT CUT THEM ACCORDING TO THE LIMITED WILL AND KNOWLEDGE OF A BIOCHEMIST who needs a job and no clue what will come out of his new ‘design’! In particular, when Geonegineers are continuing to assault our climate EVERY DAY with TOXIC sprays CONTRIBUTING TO THE INTENTIONALLY INTRODUCED GLOBAL CLIMATE disaster, which is a pretext for the biotechnology to manipulate and do the rest of the damage to the real ORGANIC WORLD! Just STOP THE ILLEGAL GMO AGENDA introduced by a scientific elite, which seeks money, power and GOD replacement with their own idea’s!

    1. I agree!! Chemtrails are ruining good organic produce. Monsatan-Bayer has patent for these Chemtrails…We need to get rid of these Chemical Pesticides/Herbicides companies who alter the crop genes for profit!!

    2. Here! Here!! I couldn’t say it better!! But I might add:
      -We don’t know the effects of foreign pollens; might they displace native species?
      -If we can’t get a pollen to fertilize another plant and it won’t be grafted, maybe there are other problems of which we are unaware?
      -We don’t know what effect these forced, mutated genes could have on life that ingests it!

      Now I realize there Have been some bacteria to develop cheeses that would have died out without human, scientific intervention. But that is an organism that is Known, cannot spread without human intervention and thus, controllable. (and Dear God, don’t take my cheeses!)

      The human genome, when first investigated, was thought to be something like 86% “garbage” DNA. We now know that the garbage had some very important DNA in it. What about what we Don’t know now?

      But worse than that, a decision to include GMO’s of some nature under the umbrella of USDA Organic betrays the trust I would like to continue to have in the organization. If they are allowed under this designation, what ELSE will I be unable to trust?
      Our government has Enough problems with citizens trusting its agencies.
      PLEASE don’t take this one away from me too.

      Sorrowfully yours,

      1. Hi Kimberly,
        Thank you for reading my blog and for your thoughtful comments. I appreciate the dialogue on some of these thorny subjects. For the record UNFI and OTA are unequivocally opposed to GMOs in organic and we are not advocating for new gene-editing or any other GMO technologies to be allowed in organic.
        Once again I appreciate your input and point of view.


  4. Wow. This gives me some glimmer of hope that the organic food community will eventually help the movement for sustainable agriculture instead of hinder it. I grew up in a household where Rachel Carson was the closest thing we had to religion, but it was also a household of scientists. Organic farming seems lodged in a 19th century philosophy, and you can’t feed a planet undergoing climate change with a philosophy. It boggles my mind why anyone could possibly be against such powerful tools as hydroponics and GMOs.

    1. Scott Miller – You have summed up what the problem is. You do not have to eat “True Organic” it’s your choice. But, this doing things to obscure (perform illegal acts) to hide the truth from those who wish to make “their” choice doesn’t sound humanitarian to my ears as a goal for feeding the planet.

    2. In 30 years, how much famine have GMOs resolved while WalMart throw away tonnes of food every day? We don’t have a food manufacturing problem, we have a food distribution problem. How to transgenic crops help with that?

  5. Anyone who can understand that the earth is an organic planet and the Creator provided food from the table of the earth to feed all the organic life upon it knows that Life on this planet was not meant to live on pesticides and GMOs (which are banned in most countries as are any Monsanto products). It is very well documented that they cause disease, along with the chem trails, etc. We are not designed to consume and breathe toxins! Even insentient machines fall apart from excessive pollutants. It’s time we disabled the fat cat corporations who only care about profits and have no heart. Their time if over! We are co-creating a new world based on Love, Light, Unity, Transparency, Peace, and Abundance for all as was intended by the Creator.
    Now, in the meantime, there is a very inexpensive product available that will totally remove all GMOs, pesticides, herbacides rom the soil very quickly and the representative says that earth worms return in short order. Go to http://www.advancedsoilrestoration.com, a Bend, OR company which has had much success..
    Organic Digester Plus – 16 OZ $35 is said to restore 1 acre of soil.

  6. Melody, I appreciate your blogging and sharing your thoughts. What an interesting title “If you Care about Organic, Show up for Organic.” Hmm, after reading your blog, I believe you betray the meaning of organic. Your first sentence is a contradiction (flying and organic?) But, I digress. Try not to forget that there are people who, physiologically, cannot eat GE/ high pesticide treated foods. They have negative reactions – immunologic reactions, respiratory problems, and gastrointestinal problems – just to name a few. Organic is choice and the definition of organic needs to stay pure/ clear. GE, hydroponic or “gene editing” are *not* Organic. And, please don’t belittle farmers and agricultural experts (“…will we eventually become a Luddite bevy of breeders?”) who have successfully hybridized many plants. Plants that can “cope” with climate change. I am happy to let GE and hydroponics be sold, but don’t lie about them being organic. They are not. Organic is grown in the ground in soil unpolluted by pesticides/ herbicides (which are now being shown to be carcinogenic). I don’t want to die from cancer – and, certainly not from my food. But, perhaps I expect too much of you – because you ARE an industry advocate. Perhaps I should change my expectations – you will do as your corporate masters dictate. IF you care about Organic, show up for Organic…. hmm. You? I don’t think so.

  7. My desire is to require all those who use gene splicing and other “unnatural ”
    techniques to guarantee that their efforts protect “natural” seeds and plants from inadvertent change.

    My other concern is changing well
    established meanings of words by
    anyone that wishes to benefit from that change. Organic has an established
    meaning. To include new meanings so different from the traditional meaning
    bastardized the language. (That is true in describing historical events or social movements as well.)

    I’m not against new scientific exploration of foods; I just want to know what I am eating, and want the description of foods to be unambiguous.

      1. Melody, where Bob Lundquist says “want(s) the description of foods to be unambiguous” – I totally agree – The Truth Will Set You Free –

  8. How utterly ironic, your warped notion of “evolving” organic. What complete double-talk. “A luddite bevvy of breeders.” You are absolutely insane. You should not be in a position of influence in organic standards with this kind of talk. You are set to undermine everything that organic standards are supposed to stand for.

    It’s even more ironic also that there is this strange notion that organic farming is lodged in the 19th century, when it is in fact Von Liebig et. al.’s 19th century errors of soil science that big ag continues to champion, despite their being proven wrong within his lifetime. Oh, but they don’t teach you that at ag college, do they.

    The point being, you have twisted the idea of “evolution” and have create a new corporate meaning out of it. In your mind, evolution now does not mean evolution, it means mutation. You speak of your artificial mutation practices as though they are evolution, when in fact they are its very antithesis.

    This is not a blog about “everything organic”. This is a bunch of corporate double talk designed to fool and appease the unwary and subvert true organic agriculture towards the monopolistic designs of your corporate masters. What would Sir Albert Howard do? Kick your butt for starters. How about if YOU care about organic show up for organic. You seem to have adopted the idea that the meaning of the term can be redefined. It is not up for redefinition and there is nothing about natural food that needs to be changed.

    1. RichCoulter you are so correct. Attempts to disguise reality results in Marked Cards which are widely known as tools of cheats and crooks for personal gain.

  9. Dear Melody,
    I care very much that the organic “sweet blocky pepper” I purchase be clearly labeled and feel confident in knowing it was grown in soil, not hydroponically, aquaponically nor bioponically. I hope you take these issues seriously, especially the idea of including GMO seeds under the organic umbrella. This consumer wants truth in labeling of food. The organic model has been clearly defined and does not include GMOS. If it’s not organic it’s not organic. Simple.
    A reminder, our government does not protect people. It supports big business especially the GMO business, at the expense of the health of people and the planet. Just saying.

    1. Hi Sharo,
      Thank you for reading my blog and for your thoughtful comments. I appreciate the dialogue on some of these thorny subjects. For the record UNFI and OTA are unequivocally opposed to GMOs in organic and we are not advocating for new gene-editing or any other GMO technologies to be allowed in organic.
      Once again I appreciate your input and point of view.

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