Owner of Vermont Organic Dairy Farm and Harvard Biology Graduate Educates the NOSB on the Meaning of “Organic”November 25th, 2015
Greg Jackmauh holds a Harvard degree in biology and owns a Vermont organic dairy farm. He’s a longtime member of The Cornucopia Institute.
My name is Gregory Jackmauh. I am a resident of Barnet, Vermont and live on an Organic pasture-based, intensive rotational grazing dairy farm that has been certified since 2003.
I graduated from Harvard College with an Honors degree in Biology and am a member of The Cornucopia Institute.
My premise is simple: The word “Organic” has a meaning that has existed long before the USDA began to consider the term.
In my 1924 edition of Webster’s New International Dictionary it says “organic” means “acting as an instrument of nature” and “forming a complex, self-determined, unity”. To me and to many others here today and watching from a distance this definition is quite easily understood. “ORGANIC” means a naturally occurring relationship between land, plant, micro-organism, and animal that is harmoniously in balance and self-sustaining.
Modern agricultural processes have gotten away from following an “organic” model throughout the decades and centuries, and there are those of us who passionately feel that returning to an “organic” approach to agriculture is a critical step to stabilizing our environment and our planet.
The Cornucopia Institute, on behalf of organic stakeholders, has been documenting flagrant fraudulent activity on “factory farms” producing so-called organic meat, milk, and eggs. These “factory farms” are allowed to operate with USDA Organic Certification even though their practices in no way resemble the definition of the word “organic”. These farms damage the reputation of my Organic farm and hurt its bottom line. No amount of imagination can picture these “factory farms” to resemble a system “forming a complex, self-determined unity.” The practices of monoculture and feed-lot concentration necessary to sustain these “factory farms” result in serious environmental degradation…just the opposite of the intended purpose of organic farming.
The USDA should not be in the business of deciding that Daniel Webster had it wrong! They should not be in the business of fighting with sectors of the population about the definition of a word that already has a clear meaning.
It’s pretty simple. If your agricultural product is NOT the output of a sustainable, symbiotic, biological relationship with the land then it CANNOT BE LABELED ORGANIC! It might be “natural” or anything else we all agree we will call it.
I think a lot of time and a great deal of confusion and subterfuge has gone into the “Organic Debate” and, not surprisingly, always to the detriment of those who most easily understand the definition of “Organic” and believe in its value toward making us healthier and this planet more habitable for ALL LIVING ORGANISMS.
I ask you to turn back the clock and return to the simple definition of “Organic” and then go to work decertifying those that are clearly not deserving of the “ORGANIC LABEL”.