Tuesday, 04 June 2013

Expert Questions Legitimacy of Organic Food Certification

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The so-called “organic” foods industry may not be as natural as consumers have been led to believe, owing to a lack of serious testing and other major flaws in the system, according to a former inspector of organic foods in the United States and Canada who grew up on an organic farm. What the expert described as the “globalist environmental movement” — George Soros, for example, and others like him — is also deeply involved in promoting organic foods, he explained.

In an interview with The New American, Mischa Popoff, who serves as a policy advisor to the Heartland Institute and wrote a book exposing “the inside story” of the organic industry, explained that much of the certification process for organic produce today essentially amounts to a “scam.” The crux of the problem, he said, is that there is no field testing of organic crops or livestock anywhere in the world.  

“There is some end-product testing being carried out by the EU, but that’s like testing Olympic athletes after they go home,” said Popoff, who spent five years working as an organic inspector. “Athletes are tested during the games when performance-enhancing drugs are still coursing through their veins, not after.” Despite years of promises, neither the U.S. Department of Agriculture nor the Canadian Food Inspection Agency conduct proper tests to ensure that organic standards are being met, he added.

The way the system works now, Popoff continued, is by having organic farmers and processors keep records of their activities, which are then reviewed once a year during a pre-announced “inspection.” Meanwhile, up-front organic certification fees can cost thousands of dollars, followed by transaction fees collected as sales are made.

That creates problems in the way the system is operated, Popoff said. “It’s clear that instead of having an incentive to stamp out fraud, the private, for-profit certifiers that operate under the aegis of the EU, USDA and CFIA actually have an incentive to rubber stamp the certifications and sales of their clients,” he explained.

Also, despite oft-cited claims that organic agriculture is somehow more “sustainable” than regular farming, Popoff said the environmental benefits are negligible at best. Organic farms, for example, are prohibited from using modern, nitrogen-based fertilizers that drastically increase crop yields. Synthetic pesticides are also prohibited. Because agriculture inherently becomes less productive under such restrictions, it takes far more land and resources to produce the same amount of food.

With a global population of around seven billion, efficient and cost-effective farming, of course, becomes even more crucial. That is why, according to Popoff, globalist environmentalists with deep pockets and dubious motives have taken such an interest in the promotion of organic farming and all things “sustainable.” Among the key figures: John Podesta, former White House chief of staff to President Clinton and current boss of the statist Center for American Progress; self-styled communist and former Obama administration “green jobs” czar Van Jones; and billionaire globalist financier George Soros.   

“But here’s the far more important consideration,” Popoff said. “Everything else the globalist environmental movement ever tried before required that people stop buying things, whether it was fur, meat, wood, fuel for our cars, or cars themselves. But now these activists have found a way to encourage people to buy — i.e. ‘organic,’ local and ‘humane’ food — and thereby fund their anti-technological revolution with genuine market-driven capital.”

“This is unprecedented,” he continued. “Unprecedented in today’s market place, unprecedented in human history. And, in fact, it makes the whole concept of carbon trading look like child’s play by comparison.” At the end of the day, Popoff believes that this may represent “the biggest green scam since Nazism.”

One of the motivations behind the groups and individuals pushing the organic movement is reducing human population levels, Popoff argued, echoing widespread concerns among analysts who monitor the “sustainability” establishment and its schemes. He said that by using a combination of subsidies for organics and stiffer regulations for conventional farming, population-control zealots are gradually — if quietly — winning in their gambit to reduce the number of humans on the planet. 

“Anytime an organic activist argues that organic agriculture can feed the world, the unspoken assumption contained in that assertion is that there will be far fewer people to feed in the future,” Popoff said. “How many fewer? Those who support population control but who are unfamiliar with the actual limitations of organic agriculture put the estimate at about half the planet’s current population of human beings. Those who are more informed put it at something closer to a quarter.”

In fairness, there are plenty of experts and countless activists who believe that the push to foist genetically modified agriculture on the world are seeking to reduce the population as well. While the U.S. government claims GM foods are substantially equivalent to traditional crops, a growing number of studies have linked certain biotech products to serious health concerns.

Last year, for example, a major French study using rats found a correlation between genetically modified corn and cancer. While the research was lambasted by biotech firms and their allies, it was hardly the first time scientists have sounded alarms bells on the potential negative effects of certain forms of GMO crops. Alarm about the entire business model, which includes patenting DNA, has also been expressed. So for consumers rightly or wrongly concerned about the issue, buying organic may still represent a good choice, and there are actually mechanisms in place that try to keep GMOs out of the organic food supply.

Popoff, while conceding that some of the companies involved may well be questionable, is a strong supporter of genetic engineering, saying it will help humanity and that concerns are “completely unfounded.” He pointed to synthetic insulin, developed using biotech technology, as an example of the potential benefits that genetically engineered organisms can offer the world.      

Still, companies like Monsanto have been staunch supporters of “sustainability” schemes, too — openly backing the controversial United Nations Agenda 21. As The New American reported in February, the bio-technology behemoth, which recently sparked global protests, officially joined the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, a group of powerful interests including major banks and Big Oil backing the deeply controversial UN “sustainable development” plot.

Despite Popoff’s concerns about the problems in the existing organic regulatory system, he is not necessarily opposed to any and all organic crops. However, he urges consumers to be educated and cautious in choosing what products to buy. Among other recommendations, he said people who want genuine organic foods should try to buy them directly from a farmer they know — preferably right from the farmer’s farm.  

“The consumer has to be his or her own eyes and ears when it comes to determining what’s organic and what’s fake,” Popoff said. “The consumer cannot under any circumstances rely on the public-private bureaucracies of the EU, USDA or CFIA to guarantee anything. They are simply not equipped to find fraud, and can’t be bothered to do so even if they were.”

He also says that a free-market approach to the system for people interested in purchasing healthy, toxin-free foods is not only possible, but “well within reach.” According to Popoff, competition and advances in technology have dramatically slashed the price of proper testing, for example. The current system of asking farmers to keep records for pre-announced “inspections” by federally approved bureaucrats does not keep people honest — and it just will not work.   

“For the last ten years I’ve been saying that instead of record-keeping and record-checking by private, federally accredited certification agencies, let’s instead rely on testing through private labs to prove a farmer or processor is organic,” he said. “There’s no better free-enterprise solution. After all, governments the world over already agree on what constitutes parts-per-million in lab tests.”

The major biotech firms — companies like Monsanto, Dow, DuPont, and others — “love” the current organic system, Popoff explained, saying that they did not want organic certification to become scientific, market-driven, and hence, legitimate. Meanwhile, honest organic farmers are being “crushed” under the weight of bureaucratic compliance. While there may not be a perfect solution, like in virtually all fields, the free market would almost certainly do a better job in helping consumers.
 
Alex Newman, a foreign correspondent for The New American, is currently based in Europe. He can be reached at

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