Rant and Rave

A Mini Rant: The Definition of "Organic"

by Tom Magliozzi

U.S. Department of Agriculture--SHAME ON YOU!!!

Boy, does this ever smell to high heaven. If you haven't been reading or watching the news, here's the story. The U.S. Department of Agriculture decided to define the term "organic"--to protect us poor uneducated slobs so that we wouldn't be taken in by some unscrupulous retailers who might use the "organic" label on foods that don't really deserve it. So, they studied the issue for some months and in December they published their definition. Lo and behold, the definition includes foods that are "irradiated, genetically engineered or grown with sewage sludge fertilizer."

Luckily, some people actually read the document--probably "real" organic farmers. They didn't like it. The USDA received 200,000 complaints.

Now, the story this far is bad enough. But get this: When they receive the complaints, the agriculture secretary--some bureaucratic moron (in my opinion) named Dan Glickman--makes a statement. Here's what he says--and I paraphrase--"Gee, we didn't realize so many people would be upset by this. I guess we'll take another look." You didn't REALIZE that people would be upset by this? Who the heck are you trying to kid?

First of all, if it's true that you didn't realize the words "irradiated, genetically engineered and sewage sludge" don't immediately leap to mind when we poor slobs think of "organic" foods, then turn in your resignation immediately. Do not pass Go and certainly do not collect another paycheck.

Secondly, we don't believe that you didn't know. What we do believe is that you were influenced--legally or illegally--by vested interests. (I don't know how to check on this, but I'd bet my Dodge Dart that lobbyists from the irradiation, genetic engineering and sludge businesses made lots of calls and bought lots of lunches in 1997--in my opinion.)

Shame on you, Glickman! You have given new meaning to the expression, "Hi, I'm from the government and I'm here to help you."

Does your mother know what you did? I'm going to tell her.

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