Since its inception in 2002, the USDA Organic label has symbolized the highest standard of safety for natural foods that many consumers can imagine. Finding out exactly what the label itself (and other labels like it) exactly mean is another question.
Firstly, many saw the necessity for foods to labeled as “organic”by 1994, since genetically modified crops began flooding the market without any labeling as being “genetically modified” by the USDA. Of course, this non-labeling was due to the USDA’s decision to treat these species grown by splicing bacteria, viruses, and the genetica material of plants and animals as “natural” (i.e. equivalent to those given to us by Mother Nature). It is really no wonder that 95% of consumers today want GM foods to be labeled as being such.
However, even the process of getting food that has not been tampered with to be labeled as non-GMO, i.e. “organic”,
has not been without fights internally and externally. In April 2004, USDA passed new rules that allowed USDA-certified organic farms to use fertilizers and pesticides that contain “unknown” ingredients and USDA-certified organic dairy cows that had been administered antibiotics or fed non-organic fishmeal – made with synthetic preservatives and potentially contaminated by mercury and PCBs (a known carcinogen). USDA also announced they would no longer regulate non-agricultural products labeled as “organic”. Any seafood, body care products, pet foods, fertilizer, and clothing, no matter how they were produced, could be labeled “organic”. Within one month, consumers did rebel and the USDA withdrew these new regulations.
Even so, in June 2004 USDA reinstated one of the three directives from April, which still allows the above-described seafood, body care products, pet foods, fertilizer, and clothing to be labeled “organic”. This has led to conflicts since 2005, when big and small battles about what ingredients and processes can be allowed as “organic” have been waged. Consumers fighting proxy battles with the USDA and its corporate sponsors through organizations like the Organic Consumers Association have bravely led the fight. In the meantime, many GMO crops have been approved by the FDA, and have contaminated the corresponding species of non-GMO clean crops with their foreign seeds.
Please use the chart to help you understand what is in your food and how it has been treated and please support businesses that have tried to spare us from the ongoing tampering with our food supply. You can read more about our own “beyond organic” promise here
The organic label means different things for different products. It also helps to know some other labels out there can mean a bit more or a bit less than the official label.