Do we need to question the relevance of organic certification? A court case in Western Australia where an organic farmer sued his GM neighbour farmer for contaminating his crop and subsequently losing his organic status has ended in favour of the GM grower.
The contamination of the organic farm/crop was not in question and was proven beyond doubt with all parties agreeing wind played a part by blowing the GM crop onto the neighbouring organically certified farmland.
However, the crux of the litigation was determining if the GM farmer could be held liable for the organic farmer losing his organic certification. Yesterday (29th May 2014) the judge hearing the case found in favour of the GM farmer and basically found he was not liable for the organic farm losing their organic certification even though he obviously caused the contamination.
Interestingly, the judge decided that although the GM farmer could have taken better precautions to prevent cross contamination to adjoining farms, it was also the organic farmer’s responsibility to ensure he took appropriate measures to protect his crops.
Furthermore, the judge suggested that organic certification was prematurely and over zealously withdrawn questioning the practicality of such strict guidelines.
This raises some curious points about organic produce, how it is certified, and the cost of certification on the farmer and the end consumer. Are consumers and farmers getting ripped off? Is organic certification too strict and/or too expensive?
I wonder how many people would be happy if goods were sold as “not certified organic” but grown organically as possible. Isn’t this the way many farmers and backyard growers produce their own food anyway? I do… I don’t use pesticides or fungicides on my fruit and vegetables grown in my backyard and I do use the word organic when I describe my produce to others. It may be technically wrong to describe my produce as organic or is it?
If you know the farmer or the seller at the local markets and more importantly you trust them does it matter if they say their produce is organically grown even though they haven’t paid a large fee to be formally certified? To be honest, it doesn’t bother me because if I know and trust a grower who says their produce is grown chemical free I generally am happy to take their word for it and buy their products. But, that’s me…
Others, (perhaps city people) who don’t see growers face to face may need the reassurance of organic certification and that’s fine if they are also willing to pay for the costs of organically growing the product in the first place plus the cost of certification on top of it.
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Mark Valencia – Editor SSM
Look, and see the earth through her eyes…