Organic Products Ethics

While surfing the web for ideas for this ethics post, I came across a very
interesting article. It focuses on the ethics of organic products as a whole. I often
discuss with my friends in regard to whether organic products are actually good or
not. My thinking is that it will be an interesting topic for everyone because organic
and non-organic foods are products that we all consume on a daily basis. It is a big
business and ethically concerned industry. But are organic products a better
choice?

So what is the definition of organic?
When I purchase organic produce and organic products, people around me ask “
What is your definition of organic? ” I usually produce the same answer that I
always do which is that crops that are grown without the use of pesticide and nongenetically modified organisms. However, every country and single individuals has
their own unique definition and standards. The definition and standard of the term
organic varies worldwide.

In the early 90s, the United States government began the process of implementing
a method to certify organic products as well as labeling standards for these
products.By 2002 the final ruling for organic products were set and qualifying
organic products were allowed to use the official United States Department of
Agriculture “organic” label. According to United State Department of Agriculture
(USDA), organic products cannot be produced using methods such as genetic
engineering, ionizing radiation, or sewage sludge and synthetic materials such as
pesticides and antibiotics. There are also many strict production methods and
labeling requirements that growers and farmers need to follow.

Even though the United States has a labeling standard, we don’t see much labeling
that provides comprehensive product information for consumers. In Japan, most of
the organic foods have labeling that has grower’s farm information, the kind of
fertilizers applied, and URL for how the products were made. I recently bought a
box of lemon bars from Trader Joe’s, which is known as an organic supermarket and
the box did not have any information in regard to the contents of the organic
product labeled on the box.

Consumers tend to think or have the mindset that organic food is much healthier
and tastier as they believe non-organic foods or produce have been grown with the
application of chemicals. Some portion of the consumers also believes that organic
foods and produce have higher nutritional value compared with the non-organic
products. Those beliefs are not fully justified as studies from some researchers
have concluded that there is no decisive evidence that organic produce are
healthier or have higher levels of nutrients than conventional food contains.
Therefore, the lack of labeling gives consumers wrong information and knowledge.
Producers will get more income from producing organic food that might be low in
nutritional value, just because it is organic.
Organic farming is also known to be more labor intensive compared with
conventional agriculture farming; as organic farming requires the exclusion of any
chemical substances on the crops which leads to manual labor, such as physical
weeding. With the majority of the population of citizens in a given country flocking

to and concentrating in metropolises, we are losing knowledge in agriculture with
the rise of technology, many farmers have opted to take of advantage of new
technologies, pesticides and herbicides, as it would increase crop yield. With that
said, organic produce is a rare commodity unless many are ready to forsake the
convenience of living in mega-cities and become farmers again to increase the
production of organic produce.
In conclusion, I would like to reiterate that organic products are not always a good
choice. As mentioned earlier, organic products show no evidence that they provide
better or more nutrients in comparison with conventional foods. Also, organic
farming is a more labor-intensive job, as organic farming must exclude the use of
chemicals such as pesticide and herbicide. We, consumers need labeling on organic
products, specially: information related to the ingredients used in the product.
References
Charles Francis and Courtney Quinn. (2011, July). Agricultural Ethics and USDA
Organic Standards. Retrieved October 13, 2016,
from http://www.prairiefirenewspaper.com/2011/07/agricultural-ethics-and-usdaorganic-standards
Green Tumble. (2015, December 20). Pros and Cons of Organic Farming. Retrieved
October 13, 2016, from http://greentumble.com/pros-and-cons-of-organicfarming/
USDA. (n.d.). Organic Labeling. Retrieved October 13, 2016,
from https://www.ams.usda.gov/rules-regulations/organic/labeling
Williams, Christine M. (2002). Nutritional Quality of Organic Food: Shades of Grey
or Shades of Green? Proceedings of the Nutrition Society 61 : 19–
24. https://www.cambridge.org/core/services/aop-cambridgecore/content/view/S0029665102000058

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