Right now, we have organic crops that may be grown from non-organic seed (when claimed that no organic seed was available or nefarious labeling), in soil that has been fertilized with manure from factory farms, and to which some synthetic pesticides may be applied. That’s all legit. It looks like organic standards may be eroded further by the use of gene editing. That’s right, GMOs could one day be used in organic production.
Should Gene Editing Be Part Of Organic Production? USDA Opens Debate, Food Ingredients First, 29 July 2019
29 Jul 2019 — Greg Ibach, Under Secretary of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), has hinted that gene-editing methods should be allowed within organic production. The comments he made before the House Agriculture Subcommittee could lead to a loosening of the restrictive genetically modified organism (GMO) legislation, long-called for by both scientists and the Trump administration. Supporters of genetic engineering argue that it can be used to help increase production yield and nutrition at a time when food security is an increasing concern within the global food industry.
“As the National Organic Standards Board set the rules originally, GMOs are not eligible to be in the organic program. However, we’ve seen new technology, including gene-editing, that accomplishes things in shorter periods of time than a natural breeding process can. I think there is the opportunity to open the discussion to consider whether it is appropriate for some of these new technologies that include gene-editing to be eligible to be used to enhance organic production and to have drought and disease-resistant varieties, as well as higher-yield varieties available,” he says.
One of the hallmarks of the organic label is the prohibition of genetic engineering, meaning that this move would be drastic.
Food security is more about access, not production. We have enough food to feed all the people in the world. What the world has a problem with is distributing that food equitably.
As I keep saying, “organic” has become a marketing term. Its association with more natural (I’m sorry to use that word!), more humane, more sustainable food production has gone out the window.