Just how natural is organic farming?
Organic activists would like you to believe their brand pre-exists in nature the way fresh air and clean water do. It does not. It only exists because we have come up with a legal framework by which to define it.
If we were to decide tomorrow that certain GMOs would be acceptable as organic, as President Bill Clinton and many leading academics suggest, we could rewrite the law. But the activists propound the notion that GMOs "contaminate" organic crops, as if we're talking about dumping effluents into a pristine stream of brook trout. We're not. We're talking about politics, plain and simple.
Organic activists aim to sideline agricultural genetic engineering and prevent GMO farming from moving forward. It's a devious gambit that's worked marvelously: GMO flax, wheat, Golden Rice and innate potatoes are all on the sideline, some for more than a decade.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Organic Program only stipulates how and when substances like synthetic pesticides or fertilizers contaminate organic crops. Everyone knows these things can be harmful if misused. But there is nothing in America's standards — repeat, NOTHING — that explains how or when GMOs "contaminate" an organic crop. Organic farmers are only prevented from planting GMO seed due to a radical-political aversion to this science that thrives in urban organic circles.
Let's be crystal clear. Not a single organic crop anywhere in America has ever lost organic certification as a result of pollen or plant-material drifting onto it from a GMO crop.
The time has come for organic activists to stop creating controversy where none exists and for us all to look forward to the day when we might even see the world's first certified-organic, genetically-modified crop. After all, it's a matter of choice.
Mischa Popoff is a former USDA organic inspector and farmer, the author of Is it Organic?, and a policy adviser for The Heartland Institute.