The Non-GMO Blog

Response to comment to Wall Street Journal article: “Organic Food Protectionists”

November 3rd, 2014 by

In his comment about the article, “Organic Food Protectionists,” Dr. Daniel F. Borgen, M.D., said that organic farmers could oppose mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods. To back his case, Dr. Borgen quotes from an article I had written titled, “To test or not to test organics for GMOs” in the July/August 2009 issue of The Organic & Non-GMO Report.
However, Dr. Borgen misrepresents the meaning of the article, which is about non-GMO labeling and not mandatory GMO labeling. The article never states that organic farmers are concerned about the impact of mandatory GMO labeling. The article describes organic industry member concerns about the requirements of the Non-GMO Project label.
The quote he mentions is from Katherine DiMatteo, former executive director of the Organic Trade Association. Here is the full excerpt from my article. The text in bold is what Dr. Borgen quoted in his comment:
Katherine DiMatteo argued against adding a non-GMO labeling standard to organic. A non-GMO label, she said, moves organic from being a process guarantee to being an end product guarantee.
She said using GMO testing as a tool for improvement in organics is fine, but opposes non-GMO labeling based on testing. “Don’t add a guarantee that we can’t live up to and don’t force organic farmers and processors to live up to a (non-GMO) standard.”

Such a (non-GMO) standard, DiMatteo said, will hurt the organic market because consumers may fear that organic products that aren’t labeled non-GMO will be GMO.

As one can easily see, the full text presents a very different perspective than what Dr. Borgen presented. I suggest that Dr. Borgen re-read my article to see how he misrepresented it and recognize his mistake.

Further, I would say that most organic farmers support mandatory GMO labeling and some organic farming groups have issued statements to this effect.

Published by

Ken Roseboro

Ken Roseboro

Ken Roseboro has been called “the nation’s reporter on all issues surrounding genetically modified foods” by Acres USA magazine. He has written extensively about GM foods and the non-GMO trend since 1999. Ken’s articles have appeared in leading food and agriculture publications and websites such as Civil Eats, Harvest Public Media, Prepared Foods, Natural Foods Merchandiser, Food Processing, and World Grain as well as The Huffington Post, Yahoo News, Mother Earth News, and others. He is a contributing editor to EcoWatch, Organic Connections and New Hope 360. Ken is author of Genetically Altered Foods and Your Health and The Organic Food Handbook both published by Basic Health Publications. He has spoken at many conferences including Natural Products Expo West, All Things Organic, Acres USA Conference, The Organic Farming Conference, National Heirloom Seed Expo, and others. Ken is a founding member of the Non-GMO Supply Working Group, and a member of the board of directors of the Iowa Organic Association. He appears in the award-winning documentary film, GMO OMG. In 2006, Ken received an Award of Merit from Seed Savers Exchange for his efforts to preserve genetic diversity through his publications.

6 Comments

  • Dear Ken,
    I was so happy to read your reply to Dr. Borgen’s WSJ letter to the editor, November 3rd edition. I hope you will reply to his misleading words in your own letter to the editor.

    This is a perfect example of pro GMO tactics and misunderstanding that surrounds the issue today.
    Best,
    Sharon Donovan
    Occupy the World Food Prize

  • Daniel F. Borgen, M.D. says:

    You confirm the fact that I quoted Ms. DiMatteo accurately and precisely. Where am I wrong? Further, I am on your side. It is plainly obvious to me that labeling might well destroy organic production. You will be crushed by the regulators and the trial lawyers. I now make my living in precision agriculture. We are not your enemy. If you want to pursue organics and can make it work, more power to you. Live and let live, is my motto.

    • Ken Roseboro Ken Roseboro says:

      You are wrong in saying that the quotes are about mandatory GMO labeling; they are about voluntary Non-GMO Project verification/labeling. These are two totally different things. And yes there are concerns in the organic community about the impact of the Non-GMO Project label on organic farming/food. That is what my article is about. I didn’t mention mandatory GMO labeling, which is a totally different topic. Most organic farmers would want to see mandatory GMO labeling.

  • Iamgreen says:

    Organic food is a valuable habit !

  • Matchaccino says:

    Purse Organic products why is it such an argument if both side will see the benefits of the product and the necessity for a healthy life of an individual.

  • Kantine says:

    There is also a bigger focus on organic food in Denmark today. Many canteen arrangements in schools and companies are often using mostly organic ingredients, which is good.

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