Filed Under: Organic Activists

Labels, shmabels… is it safe?

We saw this coming a mile away. On the heels of last week’s launch of the US Department of Agriculture’s new organic food labels, that same agency is now warning consumers that organic fruits and veggies might not be all that desirable after all.

The Reuters news wire is reporting on the comments of Elsa Murano, USDA Undersecretary for Food Safety, who spoke at last week’s World Food Prize symposium in Iowa. Murano warned, says Reuters, that “consumers should be wary of organically grown foods.”

“We must remember,” Murano told her Des Moines audience, “that bacteria and parasites are also all-natural.” Murano defended the use of preservatives in conventionally grown produce, which she said are there “to preserve food against the growth of microorganisms” found abundantly in manure-grown organic varieties.

Elsewhere, the Center for Global Food Issues (CGFI) notes that E.coli bacteria, “a deadly pathogen found in every cattle herd the USDA has tested, is found in the manure which organic farmers use as a primary source of fertilizer.” This organism, says CGFI, “afflicts an estimated 20,000 people in the United States each year, killing up to 500.”

None of this seems to matter to hard-core organic food activists. Their chief complaint lately has been that the organic movement has been “taken over” by large companies. “When we said organic,” whines Joan Gussow in USA Today, “we meant local.” These same corporations, of course, have the resources to ensure that the marketplace has organic foods that are safe to eat.

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