Canada's organic free-for-all

Staff ~ The Prince Albert Daily Herald
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Gerry Ritz and Stephen Harper have fallen for the organic ruse again, hook, line and sinker.
(Sean Pratt, "Feds invest in organic research" The Western Producer, Aug. 13th, 2014)

A whopping three-quarters of all the organic food sold in Canada is imported from countries with lax environmental standards like China, Mexico and Argentina. And, according to the CBC, half of this food tests positive for prohibited pesticides, a direct result of the fact that there is no field testing under Canada's organic standards. It's a complete free-for-all just as Dr. Patrick Moore and I described in our full report on the Canadian Organic Sector for the Frontier Centre.

The lion's share of this $8.5 million subsidy will be funneled into political activism against the science of genetic engineering, a field of science which has been made into the avowed enemy of organic activists in spite of President Clinton attempts to get organic stakeholders to allow GMO crops into organic production on a case-by-case basis.

As Dr. Moore and I stress in our report, America does require field testing of organic crops to ensure they’re genuine and safe. Canada does not. And since Canada is America’s largest trading partner in agricultural products, we urge Canadian authorities to bring Canada’s organic standards into the 21st century by rewriting them, eliminating all the useless record-keeping and record-checking, and replacing it with once-annual, unannounced field testing.

Sadly, none of this money will go towards the testing of organic crops to ensure they’re safe and genuine. None. And very little will go towards actual research into organic production; what little does go towards crop breeding and reducing tillage on organic farms will be wasted by politically-connected academics who will, as always, reiterate the things organic farmers already know.

None of this money – repeat, none – will go to actual Canadian organic farmers who are being squeezed right now out of their own market by phony, cheap CFIA-certified organic products from abroad. And this is because the organic industry in Canada uses an elaborate royalty-fee structure through which any money that does go to an organic farmer ends up being paid to his certifier in the form of a franchise fee.

That’s right; private and not-for-profit agencies that are supposed to keep an eye on organic farms on behalf of the CFIA receive royalty payments on each bushel of crop sold by these same organic farmers, even if they're in China. In other words, if an organic certifier discovers what might be fraud, they have no incentive to pursue an investigation because it will only result in the loss of that royalty payment. 

So much for helping Canadian farmers.

Mischa Popoff, B.A. (Hons.)

U. of S.
Former USDA contract organic inspector

Organizations: CBC, Frontier Centre

Geographic location: Canada, China, America Mexico Argentina

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Recent comments

  • Dr. Andrew Hammermeister
    August 26, 2014 - 14:11

    This article describing the announcement of federal funding for organic science in Canada is a very poor presentation of the excellent work being carried out by credible scientists across Canada. The Organic Science Cluster is a national effort managed by the Organic Federation of Canada and the Organic Agriculture Centre of Canada at Dalhousie University. The Cluster includes 37 research Activities being carried out by over 200 collaborating scientists and graduate students at 36 institutions (AAFC, Universities, and other) across Canada (see www.dal.ca/oacc). All of the research Activities in this Cluster have been scientifically peer reviewed by experts in their respective fields. The research proposals have clear objectives, none of which include political activism of any sort. Much of the research is being conducted on farms and in processing facilities of the 65+ industry partners that are supporting this work. This makes the research directly relevant to these stakeholders and others. As Minister Ritz pointed out in his announcement, organic agriculture and food production is a valuable and important part of the agricultural community in Canada. The suggestion that AAFC would allocate limited science funding towards political activism is ludicrous and undermines the integrity of AAFC program managers. It also undermines the credibility of the scientists involved, most of whom work in both organic and non-organic science programs. Clearly the author of this article has not not bothered to do his homework on this article or has any connection to what organic science is happening in Canada.

  • Dr. Andrew Hammermeister
    August 26, 2014 - 14:09

    This article describing the announcement of federal funding for organic science in Canada is a very poor presentation of the excellent work being carried out by credible scientists across Canada. The Organic Science Cluster is a national effort managed by the Organic Federation of Canada and the Organic Agriculture Centre of Canada at Dalhousie University. The Cluster includes 37 research Activities being carried out by over 200 collaborating scientists and graduate students at 36 institutions (AAFC, Universities, and other) across Canada (see www.dal.ca/oacc). All of the research Activities in this Cluster have been scientifically peer reviewed by experts in their respective fields. The research proposals have clear objectives, none of which include political activism of any sort. Much of the research is being conducted on farms and in processing facilities of the 65+ industry partners that are supporting this work. This makes the research directly relevant to these stakeholders and others. As Minister Ritz pointed out in his announcement, organic agriculture and food production is a valuable and important part of the agricultural community in Canada. The suggestion that AAFC would allocate limited science funding towards political activism is ludicrous and undermines the integrity of AAFC program managers. It also undermines the credibility of the scientists involved, most of whom work in both organic and non-organic science programs. Clearly the author of this article has not not bothered to do his homework on this article or has any connection to what organic science is happening in Canada.