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Originally published May 17 2015

Head of USDA organic program refuses to admit organics are healthier

by J. D. Heyes

(NaturalNews) Most people know that organically grown foods are healthier for you because they are grown naturally without the use of the chemicals or pesticides that have been blamed for environmental damage and human illness.

Why does it appear that the federal government is not aware of this fact? Could it be that the one person who should know the difference between organic and non-organic farming -- the head of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's organic food program -- is wholly bought and paid for by corporate biotech and bio-agricultural interests?

As reported by the Huffington Post, sales of organic food are soaring, growing by double-digit percentages year-over-year as more consumers pursue healthier, environmentally conscious lifestyles. In all, some $40 billion in organic food sales occurred in 2014.

HuffPo further reported:

One key factor behind the explosion of organic produce has been the implementation, in 2002, of the National Organic Program that lays out uniform standards for the foods that can be labeled as USDA-certified organic. But the person in charge of that program, Miles McAvoy, seems not to be totally on board with the idea that buying organic is all that important, at least for human health.

Too afraid of upsetting agri-business?

McAvoy said in an interview with the Washington Post that he would not confirm that organic foods are better or that they offer specific health benefits over non-organic foods. When asked if consumers are correct in assuming that organics are "healthier and safer than conventional," McAvoy opted to dodge the question.

"I am not going to be able to respond to that," McAvoy told the Post reporter. "It's just not ... We are a regulatory program that regulates the organic label, to ensure that anything that has that label meets the requirements."


In a follow-up to the reporter, McAvoy said he does not see the specific merits of organic agriculture as being relevant to his role as the certification authority for organic foods.

"I can say that organic farmers and producers provide consumers additional food options," McAvoy wrote back. "The National Organic Program supports the continued growth of the organic community by developing clear standards, enforcing a level playing-field, and expanding trade opportunities to create new markets for U.S. organic businesses."

HuffPo noted that McAvoy's reticence could be due to larger confusion surrounding the USDA's twin mandate of being both a watchdog of U.S. agriculture and a proponent of it. Even if the USDA organic chief completely bought into the "organic is healthier than conventionally produced foods" argument, he could be hesitant to say so out of concern that he might be seen as critical of the way the vast majority of U.S. farms produce food.

Studies prove what organic chief won't say

It could also be that he just doesn't believe the "organic is healthier" position, perhaps in deference to some isolated studies that claim there are no real benefits to eating organic foods beyond those for the environment.

Still, there is plenty of evidence that ingesting synthetic pesticides can lead to substantive health problems in humans.

As noted by the EPA, "The health effects of pesticides depend on the type of pesticide. Some, such as the organophosphates and carbamates, affect the nervous system. Others may irritate the skin or eyes. Some pesticides may be carcinogens. Others may affect the hormone or endocrine system in the body."

In addition, other studies have indicated that organic produce is higher in certain cancer-fighting antioxidants, particularly phytochemicals such as anthocyanins, flavonoids, and carotenoids.

Whatever McAvoy's reasons for failing to stick up for the very food he is charged with certifying, they are bizarre and odd to say the least, especially given the wealth of scientific data that substantiates going organic is the healthier choice.


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