Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Can corporate be organic?

As more and more large corporations move into the production and processing of organic food and fiber, the organic movement is losing its identity. Long a bastion of small-scale production for local and regional markets, the movement is now splitting, irrevocably it seems, in two. There are those who feel that encouraging organic production, even if it involves large multinational corporations, is good on its face. The more farmland that is put into organic production, the better, they say.

There are others who say that this trend will only corrupt organic standards and that, in fact, it already has.

The crux of the matter is two-fold:

1. Is it possible for organic food production, both farming and processing, to be done by large-scale farms and corporations while still enforcing strict organic standards?
2. Does this large scale violate the the values that are imbedded in the organic movement to such a degree that large-scale farming and processing no longer constitute true organic production?

These are the the questions that the organic movement is struggling with. The answers will determine whether the movement splits in two: one faithful to a philosophy and the other merely in compliance with the bare minimum requirements of organic regulations, regulations that are under constant threat because they effectively limit scale.

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