Do you pay a huge mark up for organic vegetables? Then you’re an idiot.
At least that’s what former FDA official Henry I. Miller is claiming.
In a recent editorial for Forbes.com, Miller called organic agriculture a “colossal hoax,” and said that people who purchase the products to avoid pesticides are misguided.
Many people who pay the huge premium—often more than a hundred percent–for organic foods do so because they’re afraid of pesticides. If that’s their rationale, they misunderstand the nuances of organic agriculture. Although it’s true that synthetic chemical pesticides are generally prohibited, there is a lengthy list of exceptions listed in the Organic Foods Production Act, while most “natural” ones are permitted. However, “organic” pesticides can be toxic. As evolutionary biologist Christie Wilcox explained in a 2012 Scientific American article (“Are lower pesticide residues a good reason to buy organic? Probably not.”): “Organic pesticides pose the same health risks as non-organic ones.”
Miller goes on to say that even if there are legitimate reasons for wanting to buy organic, there’s no real guarantee that you’re getting what you pay for since only a small amount of crops are tested for compliance.
USDA requires that certifying agents test five percent of their certified operations each year. The certifying agents themselves determine which operations will be subjected to testing… Few organic consumers are aware that organic agriculture is a “trust-based” or “faith-based” system.
Of course, if you want to attack the messenger as a shill so you can keep buying organic, I’m sure the Internet will provide you with no shortage of reasons to do so. But I’m not going to go that route. I don’t need to.
The real reason you should continue to buy organic, which Miller fails to grasp, is that it gives you a great excuse to go and check out all the hot women in yoga pants at Whole Foods.