Food Fascism

US plans would banish genuine organic produce write by April 30, 1998.

by The Garden Goddess

ello fellow Earthlings, and wel- come to a brief serious column by your beloved Goddess. I am afraid Big Brother is sticking his nose where it doesn't belong again and I wanted you all to know about it before it was decided without your having some influence. So let's take a stroll in the world that Monsanto runs.

Oprah Winfrey is an unlikely hero of the battle against big business. Yet the case she won last month, in which she established her right to express an opinion about the merits of eating beef burgers, ranks with the McDonald's libel trial as one of the few serious setbacks suffered by the agro-industrial combines seeking to monopolize world food production.

She had been sued by a syndicate of monster cattle ranchers, under the surreal "food disparagement" laws introduced in 14 American states to prevent people from questioning such practices as feeding bovine offal to cows. These laws are a compelling demonstration of the lengths to which U.S. legislators will go to defend the interests of corporations against the interests of the citizen.

Winfrey might have won her battle, but the war waged by an industry that can tolerate no dissent has only just begun. Its latest attempt to silence criticism and eliminate good practice is already well-advanced.

At the end of April, the U.S. Department of Agriculture will close its consultations on a new national standard for organic farming. Its proposals have horrified small farmers, consumer groups and animal welfare campaigners. If adopted and implemented as protesters predict, they will outlaw genuine organic production all over the world.

The USDA would allow fruit and vegetables to be labeled "organic" in the United States which have been genetically engineered, irradiated, treated with additives and raised on contaminated sewage sludge. Under the new proposals, "organic" livestock can be confinement raised, fed with the offal of other animals and injected with antibiotics. "Organic" produce, in the brave new world of American oligopoly, will be virtually indistinguishable from conventionally-toxic food.

The solution would seem to be obvious: genuine organic producers should call their food something else. But the USDA is nothing if not farsighted. The new proposals prohibit the setting of standards higher than those established by the department. Farmers will, in other words, be forbidden by law from producing and selling good food.

There's no mystery about why U.S. agribusiness wants its Washington subsidiary, the USDA, to set these new standards. The consumption of organic food is rising by 20 to 30 percent per year and, in some countries, is likely to become the dominant land use. Organic farming is labor intensive. It responds best to small-scale production, matched to the peculiarities of the land.

Big business simply can't operate in an environment like this. There is no potential for hegemony. What it can't control, it must destroy. The United States government claims to be the champion of free trade, but it is, in truth, emphatically opposed to it. It seeks instead to exercise a coercive power of central control and legislative totalitarianism.

Here are 6 ways that you can help keep "Organic" organic:


1. Ask the USDA to rewrite the rules

Write the USDA a personal letter (or email) and tell them how important it is to develop standards that encourage environmental stewardship and a safe food supply. Mention that the rewritten rules must adhere to the requirements of the Organic Food Production Act of 1990 and to the principles consistently used by organic farmers. The deadline for letters is April 30, 1998. There are several ways to get your message to the USDA, each of them is listed at the end of this article.

Consider including the following points in your letter:

  • Oppose the irresponsible use of antibiotics on organically raised livestock. Also ask the USDA to tighten up the livestock portion of the rules to restrict the use of hormones, steroids and ban the use of rendered animal parts as feed for herbivorous animals. This is how Mad Cow disease got started in Britain from feeding rendered sheep parts to cows.
  • Oppose the use of toxic sludge in organic farming. Sewage sludge may be contaminated with dangerous chemicals (lead, cadmium, and others) that potentially could be absorbed by crops.
  • Oppose irradiation in organic food (the USDA calls this ionizing radiation). This process exposes food to radioactive materials in order to kill bacteria. Let the USDA know that you oppose any irradiation, especially on organic food.
  • Oppose genetically engineered organisms in organic food. This is a risky process which may have long-term adverse effects on the environment and our health.
  • Support the National Organic Standard Board's role in determining allowable synthetic ingredients. This is an independent board with strong experience in organic agriculture.

2. Send a copy of your letter

To President Clinton. Vice President Gore, and your U.S. Senators and Representatives.


3. Contact the Media

Send letters to editors requesting stories on this subject.


4. Share this article

Give it to a friend that has an interest in maintaining trust in their organic produce.


5. Continue to buy organic food

Support your local farmer's market or store. It is the highest quality food on the market today and will remain so when this rule is rewritten.


6. Make this issue a topic of discussion

Discuss it at gatherings, the gym, coffee house or just sitting at the beach. The more it is talked about, the more people will listen.


Where to write

  Send a letter to the USDA. Be sure to include the docket number in your comment:. Docket #TMD-94-00-2. Mail to:
USDA National Organic Standards
USDA, AMS, Room 4007-S
AgStop 0275, P.O. Box 96456
Washington, D.C. 20090-6456

Email from their website at There will be instructions for sending comments.

Send a message to the President:

President Clinton
The Whitehouse
Washington, DC 20501
email: president
  Send a message to the Vice President

Vice President Gore
The Whitehouse
Washington, DC 20501
email: vicepresident

(it's been said that the Veep actually answers his)

  Reach your Senator or Congressman Write to:
U.S. Senate
Washington, DC 20501
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20501 or
Some of the contents of this article were taken from the London Guardian and the Save Organic website. It is distributed without profit. If you would like to reach The Goddess, give her a call toll-free at (888) 514-4004 or email her at Next month we will continue with some really great information on your vegetable gardens. Come up and see me sometime.