September 5, 2007
Letter to the editor:
The criticisms of the integrity of the organic system of production in the September 10th issue of Maclean's are not substantiated. Organic certification indicates a certain standard of practice. It is not an assurance of purity - nor is it meant to be. Products can become contaminated in a number of ways that have nothing to do with farm practices. In fact, organic agriculture is in part a response to the increasing likelihood that our food and our bodies will be exposed to harmful environmental contamination. Testing for pesticide and other residues fails to consider what organic is really about: the long-term building of soil microbiology, which is integral to how food grows. Healthy food requires healthy soil. To say that something is organic because it does not have synthetic pesticides applied is not accurate; organic is about a different way of doing things, one with more benefits for our soil, water, air and human and non-human communities. Accountability is built into the organic system, but it is accountability of process, which results in the product, not the other way around. In addition to meeting our standards, Canadian organic products are often subjected to stringent international quality control monitoring. The new federal Organic Products Regulations will give Canadians an additional level of oversight: one that includes the rule of law, and the additional inspections and traceability that consumers and industry want. The organic industry applauds the government's move towards regulating organic: because we trust our products and know that organic remains the only verifiable way to know how our food is grown and made.
Matthew Holmes, managing director, Organic Trade Association in Canada
Laura Telford, executive director, Canadian Organic Growers
Stephanie Wells, president, Organic Federation of Canada