American Elephants


The Worst Food Regulation Ever by The Elephant's Child

A government shutdown not only allows the rest of us a chance to think about the usefulness of government and all that it does, but quite a few people have been talking about the unnecessary size of government, the things the government does that they don’t really need to be doing, and there was an article in the Wall Street Journal today titled “This May be the Worst Regulation Ever” with an even more interesting subhead: “A USDA rule about labels on ‘bioengineered’ food cost hundreds of millions and has no benefits.

Well, Frabjous Day, Henry I. Miller has hit on one of my pet peeves. He is talking specifically about the “Non GMO” required label, but the “Certified Organic” is almost as bad. I blame it all on suburban housewives, who are supposed to be “highly educated”, but in my experience are highly susceptible to phony claims.

The “Organic” movement started because they got it in their heads that their food was being fertilized by the petroleum industry. Well, yes, petroleum products are rich in nitrogen which is a fertilizer for plants, and oil companies made fertilizers. Panic time! Poisoning children. The Organic movement wanted “natural” fertilizer, not fossil fuels. “Natural fertilizer” comes from cow poop and chicken poop. Food grown without a lot of noxious chemicals in a “natural way” grew, and the Dept. of Agriculture agreed to certify foods produced by organic farmers as “Organic” so folks could be sure to reach for the right can. Unfortunately  cow poop and chicken poop have a risk of e-coli, which is poisonous, And when you get to advertisements on the radio for “Organic Cotton sheets for your bed” it gets remarkably silly. If the cotton fields from which the cotton was picked were fertilized with manure, what earthly difference does that make to the fabric eventually woven for your bed?

The GMO scare was similar. GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organism. They tweaked the genes of the plants that grew what eventually became food to add a more desirable element. In some cases it helps to resist a virus, or resist a certain kind of bug, or need less water or fertilizer when growing. The statute acknowledged that bioengineered food is neither more nor less safe than other food, but the new rule — the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard (NBFDS) will not help consumers to understand that. So you have labels on most of the canned food on your supermarket’s shelves that identify Organic foods and Non GMO foods, that give you useless information and cost you a whole bunch. Organic food costs about 30% more than its non-organic counterpart, and is a complete waste of money.

I refuse to buy anything with an “Organic” label, but stores now have a large organic fruit and vegetable section. I blame it, as I said on suburban women, and on Gwyneth Paltrow, who has always been very big on food scares.

The original article is here, but may be behind a subscription barrier. Henry I. Miller is a great debunker of things that need debunking. Watch for him.


2 Comments so far
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I was braced to have to explain something that is non-obvious but actually visible to J. Random Citizen– say, the fruit checkpoints entering California– so I was pleasantly surprised to see you’re right.

I can also point out a route for these certifications, and why they won’t.

Private certification, same as Certified Angus Beef, or the various Kosher labels. It works, and you don’t have to worry about funding from the feds.

They won’t do that, because the organic twits want to have the gov’t do the work of managing their certification– and they keep trying to make people write “not organic” or “may contain GMO” exactly because it’s a way to hurt the competition, as folks assume that such a label must be important.

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Comment by Foxfier

Our house avoids organic, too, same way we avoid food related items made in China and for the same reason– there’s an elevated level of risk.

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Comment by Foxfier




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