Organic labeling program should be plowed under – The San Diego Union-Tribune

The “skinny” budget proposed by the White House a few weeks ago will undergo significant changes as it wends its way through the maze of congressional committees, but it’s clear that the president and his economic advisers really do want to take a scalpel to programs that are marked by waste, fraud and abuse. OMB Director Mick Mulvaney said during a March 16 press briefing that the government shouldn’t spend money on programs simply because they “sound good.”

Several programs at the Department of Agriculture would be eliminated in the president’s budget, and we suggest another — one that involves the government in providing benefits to special interests: the National Organic Program, which is subsidized to the tune of $160 million a year and has more in common with Whole Foods’ marketing department than sound government. For example, it is charged with “protecting the integrity of the USDA organic seal, from farm to market, around the world.”

Related: More consumers shopping organic

The thing is, the integrity of the organic seal has nothing to do with benefit to consumers, farmers or the environment. So what does it mean? Well, when it was established in 1990, Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman emphasized the fundamental meaninglessness of the organic designation: “Let me be clear about one thing, the organic label is a marketing tool. It is not a statement about food safety. Nor is ‘organic’ a value judgment about nutrition or quality.”


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