Six Myths Busted by the Organic Trade Association
Many will remember 2011 for the continued economic troubles, the lead-up to the 2012 presidential election, and unprecedented political demonstrations around the world and in our own backyards. As the year draws to a close, the Organic Trade Association (OTA) examines several myths about organic agriculture that were busted this year by researchers, the media and shoppers.
Myth #1. Organic is a niche market.
- According to new research from OTA, 78 percent (more than three quarters) of U.S. families report they purchase organic products (Source: U.S. Families' Organic Attitudes & Beliefs 2011 Tracking Study).
- Organic fruits and vegetables captured more than 11 percent of the total fruits and vegetables market in 2010, according to OTA’s 2011 Organic Industry Survey.
- Organic buyers are more likely to be Asian, African American or Hispanic than non-buyers. They are more likely to report household incomes of $35,000 and higher. However, they are also more likely to be under 25 than non-buyers.
Hardly niche—78 percent of consumers buy organic in spite of economy.
Myth #2. U.S. consumers are ambivalent about genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
- Nine in ten parents (89 percent) say it is important to label genetically engineered foods, according to OTA’s U.S. Families' Organic Attitudes & Beliefs 2011 Tracking Study.
- 78 percent of parents are concerned that genetically engineered foods could lead to unintended side effects in the environment or in animals, according to OTA’s U.S. Families' Organic Attitudes & Beliefs 2011 Tracking Study.
- Nearly 350,000 consumers have written to the commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration this year to demand labeling for genetically engineered foods.
U.S. parents say no to GMOs. We have a right to know how our food is made.
Myth #3. Organic foods are too expensive for the average family.
- 78 percent of U.S. families now buy organic food at least sometimes, according to the latest research from the Organic Trade Association. Smart shoppers can and do make organic choices on a budget.
- OTA offers strategies for consumers looking to enjoy the benefits of organic products for less.
- Linda Watson, cook and organic cookbook author, shares a variety of tips from her book, Wildly Affordable Organic: Eat Fabulous Food, Get Healthy, and Save the Planet—all on $5 a Day or Less.
Myth #4. Organic farming can’t feed the world.
- Anyone who tells you organic farming can’t feed the world hasn’t seen the latest research from Iowa State University, where long term trials found that conventional and organic produced similar yields, while organic produced better profit and resulted in better soil quality.
- 2011 saw the publication of Rodale Institute’s The Farming Systems Trial: Celebrating 30 years report, highlighting six major findings from its long-term side-by-side field trial comparisons of organic and conventional systems that prove the benefits of organic agriculture.
- An interdisciplinary team of researchers from several U.S. and international universities published a report in the Oct. 20, 2011, edition of Nature, outlining solutions for a cultivated planet to meet growing food needs. They wrote, “To meet the world’s future food security and sustainability needs, food production must grow substantially while, at the same time, agriculture’s environmental footprint must shrink dramatically.” They added, "Closing yield gaps without environmental degradation will require new approaches, including reforming conventional agriculture and adopting lessons from organic systems and precision agriculture."
Myth #5. Concern about agrichemicals is yesterday’s news.
- This spring, three independent, government funded studies published in Environmental Health Perspectives found that children whose mothers were exposed to common agricultural pesticides are more likely to experience impaired or delayed cognitive development.
- A study accepted for publication in the journal Reproductive Toxicology conducted by scientists at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Sherbrooke Hospital Centre in Quebec, Canada, reports the presence of Bt toxin, widely used in GE crops, in human blood. The toxin was detected in 93 percent of maternal and 80 percent of fetal blood samples, as well as in the blood of 69 percent of non-pregnant women tested.
- Organic is the only agricultural system that verifies, using certification and inspection, that toxic and synthetic pesticides and fertilizers are not used at any point in the production process.
Read the studies:
- Prenatal Exposure to Organophosphates and Cognitive Development
- Prenatal Exposure and IQ in 7-year-old children
- 7-Year Neurodevelopmental Scores and Exposure to a Common Agricultural Pesticide
Myth #6. The Jobless Recovery
- According to OTA’s 2011 Organic Industry Survey, the organic industry grew by nearly 8 percent in 2010, and added jobs at four times the national average.
- With four in ten families buying more organic products than they did a year ago, organic is growing and hiring. (Source:U.S. Families’ Organic Attitudes & Beliefs 2011 Tracking Study).
- Forty percent of companies in the organic sector hired full-time employees in 2010. Forty-six percent of organic businesses anticipated hiring full-time employees in 2011 (Source: OTA’s 2011 Organic Industry Survey).
Organic added jobs at four times the national average in 2010.
For more information, click here.
The Organic Trade Association (OTA) is the membership-based business association for organic agriculture and products in North America. OTA is the leading voice for the organic trade in the United States, representing over 6,500 organic businesses across 49 states. Its members include growers, shippers, processors, certifiers, farmers' associations, distributors, importers, exporters, consultants, retailers and others. OTA’s Board of Directors is democratically elected by its members. OTA's mission is to promote and protect the growth of organic trade to benefit the environment, farmers, the public and the economy.
A tornado tore through a city north of Birmingham, Alabama, Monday night, killing one person and injuring at least 30.
- Tornadoes and Climate Change: What Does the Science Say ... ›
- Tornadoes Hit Unusually Wide Swaths of U.S., Alarming Climate ... ›
- 23 Dead as Tornado Pummels Lee County, AL in Further Sign ... ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By David Konisky
On his first day in office President Joe Biden started signing executive orders to reverse Trump administration policies. One sweeping directive calls for stronger action to protect public health and the environment and hold polluters accountable, including those who "disproportionately harm communities of color and low-income communities."
Michael S. Regan, President Biden's nominee to lead the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, grew up near a coal-burning power plant in North Carolina and has pledged to "enact an environmental justice framework that empowers people in all communities." NCDEQ
- Report Urges Biden to Reverse Trump's Environmental Rollbacks ›
- US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ›
- Biden's EPA Pick Michael Regan Urged to Address Environmental ... ›
- Biden Faces Pressure to Tackle 'Unfunded' Toxic Waste Sites ... ›
By Katherine Kornei
Clear-cutting a forest is relatively easy—just pick a tree and start chopping. But there are benefits to more sophisticated forest management. One technique—which involves repeatedly harvesting smaller trees every 30 or so years but leaving an upper story of larger trees for longer periods (60, 90, or 120 years)—ensures a steady supply of both firewood and construction timber.
A Pattern in the Rings<p>The <a href="https://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/coppice-standards-0" target="_blank">coppice-with-standards</a> management practice produces a two-story forest, said <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Bernhard_Muigg" target="_blank">Bernhard Muigg</a>, a dendrochronologist at the University of Freiburg in Germany. "You have an upper story of single trees that are allowed to grow for several understory generations."</p><p>That arrangement imprints a characteristic tree ring pattern in a forest's upper story trees (the "standards"): thick rings indicative of heavy growth, which show up at regular intervals as the surrounding smaller trees are cut down. "The trees are growing faster," said Muigg. "You can really see it with your naked eye."</p><p>Muigg and his collaborators characterized that <a href="https://ltrr.arizona.edu/about/treerings" target="_blank">dendrochronological pattern</a> in 161 oak trees growing in central Germany, one of the few remaining sites in Europe with actively managed coppice-with-standards forests. They found up to nine cycles of heavy growth in the trees, the oldest of which was planted in 1761. The researchers then turned to a historical data set — more than 2,000 oak <a href="https://eos.org/articles/podcast-discovering-europes-history-through-its-timbers" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">timbers from buildings and archaeological sites</a> in Germany and France dating from between 300 and 2015 — to look for a similar pattern.</p>
A Gap of 500 Years<p>The team found wood with the characteristic coppice-with-standards tree ring pattern dating to as early as the 6th century. That was a surprise, Muigg and his colleagues concluded, because the first mention of this forest management practice in historical documents occurred only roughly 500 years later, in the 13th century.</p><p>It's probable that forest management practices were not well documented prior to the High Middle Ages (1000–1250), the researchers suggested. "Forests are mainly mentioned in the context of royal hunting interests or donations," said Muigg. Dendrochronological studies are particularly important because they can reveal information not captured by a sparse historical record, he added.</p><p>These results were <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-78933-8" target="_blank">published in December in <em>Scientific Reports</em></a>.</p><p>"It's nice to see the longevity and the history of coppice-with-standards," said <a href="https://www.teagasc.ie/contact/staff-directory/s/ian-short/" target="_blank">Ian Short</a>, a forestry researcher at Teagasc, the Agriculture and Food Development Authority in Ireland, not involved in the research. This technique is valuable because it promotes conservation and habitat biodiversity, Short said. "In the next 10 or 20 years, I think we'll see more coppice-with-standards coming back into production."</p><p>In the future, Muigg and his collaborators hope to analyze a larger sample of historic timbers to trace how the coppice-with-standards practice spread throughout Europe. It will be interesting to understand where this technique originated and how it propagated, said Muigg, and there are plenty of old pieces of wood waiting to be analyzed. "There [are] tons of dendrochronological data."</p><p><em><a href="mailto:email@example.com" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Katherine Kornei</a> is a freelance science journalist covering Earth and space science. Her bylines frequently appear in Eos, Science, and The New York Times. Katherine holds a Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of California, Los Angeles.</em></p><p><em>This story originally appeared in <a href="https://eos.org/articles/tree-rings-reveal-how-ancient-forests-were-managed" target="_blank">Eos</a></em> <em>and is republished here as part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalism collaboration strengthening coverage of the climate story.</em></p>
Earth's ice is melting 57 percent faster than in the 1990s and the world has lost more than 28 trillion tons of ice since 1994, research published Monday in The Cryosphere shows.
By Jewel Fraser
Noreen Nunez lives in a middle-class neighborhood that rises up a hillside in Trinidad's Tunapuna-Piarco region.