Organic growers report higher sales, low market penetration

The Organic Trade Association announced that total sales of organically-grown food and non-food products hit a new record of $43.3 billion in 2015, an 11-percent increase from 2014.

The OTA said organically-grown food sales reached $39.7 billion and sales of non-food products $3.6 billion. (The latter apparently include such things as organically-grown fiber or cotton and organic supplements.)

The report’s release occurred the same week a group of scientific experts, farmers, policymakers and stakeholders were meeting in Washington to discuss how “research on organic’s positive contribution to the environment can be incorporated into government programs.”

The organizers of the first-ever Organic Confluences Summit say they believe many techniques used in organic agriculture can deliver a host of environmental benefits and improve the sustainability of U.S. agriculture.

But they also admit widespread adoption of organic practices has been slow. In fact, the press release announcing the increase in sales noted that less than 5 percent of all food sold in the U.S. is organic.

I’m tempted to write, well, duh. But I’m sure those who attended the conference would take umbrage.

Few, if any, commercial farmers begrudge organic farmers their methods. Most think if someone wants to take the time and expend the energy to grow crops without herbicides, insecticides, fungicides or synthetic fertilizers more power to them.

The rub for many growers is that organic farmers and adherents of the practices aren’t content to let it go at that. Instead, many seem determined to “poison the well” for other producers, spreading erroneous claims about crop protection chemicals and GMO food.

The National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine released a compilation of the results of more than 900 studies showing genetically-engineered crops are safe and beneficial to agriculture, human and the environment the other day.

Activist groups quickly criticized the report, citing a reference to the development of resistance to some herbicides used on GMO crops, glossing over the fact plants and insects have a history of becoming resistant to a number of tools, including the hoe.

We wouldn’t be having to constantly defend the technology if activists, including organic proponents hadn’t been bashing it for much of its existence.

TAGS: Agenda
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