Cornucopia’s Take: The Real Organic Project has brought to light a shocking practice in large-scale, “organic,” hydroponic production. Many of these facilities are being built on land that has been compacted and doused with herbicides, including glyphosate. While the USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP) uncomfortably insists that this practice is legal because the prohibited substances never touch the plants, most organic producers and eaters would agree that it is antithetical to real organic principles.
The regulation found at §205.202, for example, requires that land from which crops are intended to be sold must “have had no prohibited substance… applied to it for a period of 3 years immediately preceding harvest of the crop…” It is unclear how the NOP can work around this regulatory language—and other precepts of organic production—and still maintain these practices are legal. One explanation is that the NOP and their lawyers are willing to bend over backward to accommodate industrial-organic practices.
Cornucopia and our supporters care about organic food for many reasons. We enjoy the quality of real organic food, and we know that healthy soil grows healthy plants, resulting in nutrient-dense crops. Truly organic practices also recognize that the land, nature, and humans can work together to produce a thriving system that also supports local communities economically.
The NOP continues to assert that hydroponic, aquaponic, and aeroponic production is allowed—and always has been. Their assertion shows that organic law is vulnerable to legal arguments and creative corporate loopholes. Real organic farmers continue to lose their markets to industrial-organic producers whose practices compromise the health of the soil, water, and livestock, as well as the quality of our food.
Consumers also have a right to know how their food is produced and how its production impacts the real world. Supporting real organic represents a vote for truth and transparency in a marketplace where regulators seem determined to confuse and muddy the waters.
Our Hydroponic Buyer’s Guide outs some of the major “organic” hydroponic brands. These products are far cheaper than soil-grown organic foods—and you get what you pay for.
Cornucopia will continue to watchdog the NOP and the organic industry, and we will continue to provide information to consumers about what organic really means.
Real Organic Project Weekly Email
by Dave Chapman, Real Organic Project Executive Director
A few weeks ago I got to ask an important question of Jennifer Tucker, the head of the National Organic Program (NOP).
“I have received reports from both Florida and California of hydroponic berry operations that are spraying herbicide, immediately covering the ground with plastic, putting pots down and then getting certified the next week.” Read Full Article »