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What Does It Mean to Be Organic? Nathan Haines. Organic Food Is a Growing Market.

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Organic Food Is a Growing Market

With sales of roughly $12 billion, organic food remains a niche market within the $500 billion food industry. But the sector's growing appeal to consumers has fueled a 20 percent annual growth rate in recent years, making it highly attractive to food giants looking for gains in a slow-moving business.


Excluded methods. A variety of methods used to genetically modify organisms or influence their growth and development by means that are not possible under natural conditions or processes and are not considered compatible with organic production. Such methods include cell fusion, microencapsulation and macroencapsulation, and recombinant DNA technology (including gene deletion, gene doubling, introducing a foreign gene, and changing the positions of genes when achieved by recombinant DNA technology). Such methods donot include the use of traditional breeding, conjugation, fermentation, hybridization, in vitro fertilization, or tissue culture.


To be sold or labeled as "100 percent organic," "organic," or "made with organic (specified ingredients or food group(s))," the product must be produced and handled without the use of:

(a) Synthetic substances and ingredients, except as provided in § 205.601 or § 205.603;

(b) Nonsynthetic substances prohibited in § 205.602 or § 205.604;

(c) Nonagricultural substances used in or on processed products, except as otherwise provided in § 205.605;

(d) Nonorganic agricultural substances used in or on processed products, except as otherwise provided in § 205.606;

(e) Excluded methods, except for vaccines, Provided, That, the vaccines are approved in accordance with § 205.600(a);

(f) Ionizing radiation, as described in Food and Drug Administration regulation, 21 CFR 179.26; and

(g) Sewage sludge.


Large companies and fast food industries are using lobby power to influence Congress to allow more exceptions to the current regulations. Thus, it appears that deep pockets stand a better chance of defining “organic” than any ideology.


What Does It Mean to Be Organic?

Nathan Haines

Scientific Expressions

FS 101, Section 26

09 November 2005


Organic Is...

  • Nutrition
  • Gardening
  • Commerce

Organic Is Mainstream?

  • $12 Billion Sales
  • 20% Annual Growth

Organic Is Regulated!

  • Excluded methods
  • genetic modifications
  • means of developmental influence not possible naturally
  • processes not “compatible with organic production”

USDA National Organic Project Standards



Organic Is Regulated!

  • Incompatible processes
  • cell fusion
  • micro/macroencapsulation
  • recombinant DNA technology
  • Compatible processes
  • traditional breeding
  • conjugation
  • fermentation
  • hybridization
  • in vitro fertilization
  • tissue culture

USDA National Organic Project Standards



Organic Is Regulated!

  • “Organic” products cannot be made with:
  • synthetic substances (with a few exceptions)
  • certain nonsynthetic substances
  • nonagricultural substances used in processed products
  • nonorganic agricultural substances
  • excluded methods (except for vaccines)
  • ionizing radiation
  • sewage sludge

USDA National Organic Project Standards



Organic Is Contested

  • Regulations are a major battlefield
  • big business seeks to relax standards
  • major lobbying efforts in Congress
  • “exceptions” are being leveraged as loopholes

Organic Is...

Greener than you think?