Regulating Natural?

Why should we be regulating natural stuff that grows out of the ground?

In a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, Caelainn Barr writes about the “Boom in Organic Farming Outpaces Regulators.” The piece is an expose of the horrors of the failure in the USDA to adequately regulate and certify organic farmers and farm products. It describes in great detail certifying agents’ failure to remain certified for farm inspections. The Journal reports,

The USDA said it requires certifiers to comply with numerous requirements, and the problems found by the Journal and the agency’s internal report reflected “a very rigorous accreditation process that requires full compliance and correction of identified issues.” Those that fall out of compliance, like the 23 cited this year, get the opportunity to correct the problem, but are at risk of being removed from the certification program if the problem isn’t fixed.

The USDA added that its certifiers were in compliance with 97% of its regulations.

Organic goods can cost as much as double that of conventional produce, but other than labels, consumers have no way to gauge what is really organic. The public must rely on guarantees from companies and nonprofit groups that the food was grown within federal guidelines.


“The whole setup of the system needs to be revamped,” said Chenglin Liu, a professor of law at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, who has studied the organic-certification system and has raised concerns about the thoroughness of certifying agents and the lack of frequent checks by the USDA of these certifiers. “That leaves a lot of room for mistakes.”

I am sorry, but this whole idea of regulating organic food indicates to me that our regulatory mindset has run amuck. Are we really upset that we are inadequately regulating “natural?” What could be less objectionable than growing crops in the dirt with no chemicals for consumption by people?

[See also, “Teachable Moment: Whole Foods Wants to Sell to Poor People.”]

The nation’s borders are in a shambles. Crime is out of control in Ferguson. Our national budget is in such bad shape our grandchildren will be paying the national debt. Our schools are producing mindless robots to the state, and we want to regulate acorn squash that does not receive fertilization or pesticides. It is a sad state of affairs.


David Linton writes at the Blackstone Initiative.