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The World Is Waking Up to GMO-Glyphosate Risk

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Brazil’s Federal Public Prosecutor has asked the country’s justice department to suspend the use of glyphosate, which is the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup—the world’s top-selling herbicide, EcoWatch reports.

In addition, the prosecutor has also targeted another herbicide known as 2,4-D and the active ingredients methyl parathion, lactofem, phorate, carbofuran, abamectin, tiram and paraquat, according to GMWatch.

The news comes as another huge blow to the biotech industry, following last week’s unanimous ruling by Brazil’s Federal Appeals Court that decided to cancel the cultivation of Bayer’s Liberty Link GM Maize.

Two weeks ago, Sri Lanka ordered a ban on glyphosate due to concerns the chemical may be linked to a mysterious kidney disease that has killed thousands of agricultural workers.

The legislature in El Salvador approved a ban on dozens of agrochemicals including glyphosate last September, but the proposal has so far not been signed into law.


A new European study published in the Journal of Applied Ecology found that organic farms are able to support more species than conventional farms.

Researchers from the UK (Oxford), Sweden (SLU), and Switzerland (University of Zurich) teamed up to examine the evidence of how different agricultural methods affect the diversity of life present on farms. They found that on average, organic farms support 34 percent more plant, insect, and animal species than conventional farms.

When pollinators such as bees were looked at individually, they found that organic farms had 50 percent higher species diversity than conventional farms. “Our study has shown that organic farming, as an alternative to conventional farming, can yield significant long-term benefits for biodiversity,” said Sean Tuck of Oxford University’s Department of Plant Sciences, lead author of the study. “Organic methods could go some way towards halting the continued loss of diversity in industrialized nations.”



The following definitions that may be found on meat, dairy, and egg labels was prepared by Rastelli Direct for Healthy Eating magazine.

American Humane Certified
The American Humane Association is America’s oldest animal welfare certification program. It has implemented a specific set of standards and a number of third-party auditors who can inspect farms to see whether those standards are being met. The American Humane Association does not allow farmers to use growth hormones or antibiotics to supplement animal growth. However, they do allow the use of antibiotics to treat sick animals. In some cases, the AHA allows for de-beaking poultry and for animals to be kept in cages; albeit, the cages must be large enough to allow natural behaviors.

Many people purchase cage-free eggs and poultry products because they think it is more humane. However, there is no standard definition of “cage-free.” In general, it does imply that the birds have the room to partake in natural behaviors, but it doesn’t always mean that the animals have access to the outdoors. Many cage-free claims are also not certified.

The free-range label is similar to cage-free except that it does ensure animals are granted access to the outdoors.

Technically speaking, the label “grass-fed” means that grazing animals are not fed grains to fatten them up for slaughter, but rather a healthier diet of natural grass and other greens. However, it also usually implies that the farm maintains other healthy practices such as local butchering and less crowded conditions. In general, “grass-fed” is a good label to look for. Grass-fed beef is nutritionally superior to grain-finished meat.

Many farmers use hormones to cause their animals to grow more quickly, thus boosting their profits. However, human consumption of hormones could increase the risk of cancer. Thus, all organic and many grass-fed farms do not treat with hormones. This doesn’t imply a restriction on antibiotic use. However, if an animal needs to be treated with antibiotics, it is no longer certifiably organic and can’t regain that status until antibiotic use has been discontinued for a prescribed period of time.

Lean meat has fewer than 10 grams of fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat, and 95 milligrams of cholesterol per 3.5 ounce serving. Extra-lean meat has fewer than 5 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, and 95 milligrams of cholesterol per serving.

If a product is labeled “natural,” that supposedly means that it contains no artificial ingredients and that the processing does not fundamentally alter the product. To be labeled as natural, animals do not necessarily have to be raised on free-range farms or without antibiotics. In fact, there is no definition of “natural,” either by law or regulation, and so anything can be labeled natural.

There is a strict set of criteria, codified into U.S. law, that must be met for a meat to be considered organic. Organic foods cannot be irradiated, genetically modified, or grown using synthetic fertilizers or chemicals. Organic meat cannot be treated with hormones or antibiotics and animals can only consume a diet of organically grown feed. Organic meat animals are free-range.

If the meat of an animal is “source-verified,” that means that a high-tech system has been used to guarantee where the meat or beef came from.

The pasture-raised label is the best version of free-range: the animals can continuously roam freely in their natural habitat, and eat the foods they would naturally eat. Poultry as well as red meat animals can be pastured.


Guide Reveals GMO Foods on Supermarket Shelves

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Opinion polls show that up to 90 percent of the American public wants GE foods labeled. But despite this overwhelming demand, almost no foods on U.S. grocery shelves reveal their secret, genetically engineered ingredients, according to the Center for Food Safety.

We’ve seen that our government, under pressure from the biotechnology industry, has not required the labeling of GE foods. And the biotech industry does not voluntarily identify them, fearing, probably correctly, that the majority of Americans would avoid GE foods if given a choice. As a result, the U.S. public has been deprived of its right to choose whether to buy and consume these engineered foods. However, this is not the case with most of our major trading partners around the globe who have instituted mandatory labeling of all GE foods and ingredients.

“Our True Food Shoppers Guide to Avoiding GE Foods” was the first of its kind, first published in October of 2000, the Center writes. “In fact, the Shoppers Guide is what launched the True Food Network! The Guide is designed to help reclaim your right to know about the foods you are buying, and help you find and avoid GMO foods and ingredients.”

How do you get the free Shoppers Guide to Avoiding GE Foods? Just visit www.truefoodshoppersguide.org and you’ll find links that allow you to download the guide or download the iPhone or Android app for your smartphone. Or you can email the Center at office@centerforfoodsafety.org to order a printed pocket Guide.



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The following is an essay by Ronnie Cummins of the Organic Consumers Association. It’s long and very detailed, but it sums up the current state of the fight by organic-minded people to drive genetically engineered products off the market. It’s well worth reading, absorbing, and sharing with those who want to achieve this goal.

Since the controversial introduction in the mid-nineties of genetically engineered (GE) food and crops, and the subsequent fast-tracking of those crops by the federal government—with no independent safety-testing or labeling required—there has been a lively debate among activists, both inside and outside the U.S., about how to drive these unhealthy and environmentally destructive “Frankenfoods” off the market.

Some campaigners have called for an outright ban of GE crops. In fact, several dozen nations, thousands of local governments in the EU, and six counties in the U.S. (in California, Washington and Hawaii) have created GMO-free zones by passing bans.

Other activists argue that strict mandatory labeling laws, similar to those in the EU, are all we need in order to rid the world of GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms). Activists in this camp point out that very few products in countries that have mandatory GMO labeling laws contain GMOs, because once companies are required to label GMO ingredients, they reformulate their products to be GMO-free, rather than risk rejection by consumers.

Who’s right?

A review of two decades of anti-GMO campaigning in North America and Europe suggests that mandatory labeling and bans, or GMO-free zones, should be seen as complementary, rather than contradictory. And recent news about increased contamination of non-GMO crops by the growing number of USDA-approved GMO crops suggests that if we don’t implement labeling laws and bans sooner rather than later, we may run out of time to preserve organic and non-GMO farmers and their fields.

In the EU in the late-1990s, in what was the largest agricultural market in the world, anti-GMO campaigners, including Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, at first tried to establish a sweeping production and import ban on all GMOs. They were unsuccessful, largely because politicians and bureaucrats argued that an outright ban of GMOs in the EU would violate World Trade Organization agreements and bring on serious economic retaliation from the U.S. government.

Leading consumer, environmental and farm groups pushing for a ban were successful, however, in forcing EU authorities to adopt significant GMO safety-testing regulations. All GMOs, under EU law, are considered “novel foods” and are subject to extensive, case-by-case, science-based food evaluation by European regulatory officials. These regulations, much to the chagrin of Monsanto and the Gene Giants, have kept most GMOs, with the exception of animal feeds, out of the country.

EU regulations also permit member nations to establish GMO-free zones. As of 2012 there are 169 regions and 4,713 municipalities that have declared themselves GMO-free zones in the EU. In addition to these GMO-free zones in the EU, at least 26 nations, including Switzerland, Australia, Austria, China, India, France, Germany, Hungary, Luxembourg, Greece, Bulgaria, Poland, Italy, Mexico, and Russia have banned GMOs entirely. Significant labeling and safety-testing procedures on GMOs have been put in place in approximately 60 countries.

Although EU grassroots forces failed to gain a continent-wide ban on the cultivation or import of GMOs, they were successful in pushing authorities to impose mandatory labeling of all genetically engineered foods, feeds and food ingredients in 1997. This, combined with strict pre-market safety-testing regulations, has marginalized or eliminated GMOs throughout the EU.

EU foods derived from animals raised on GMO feed, however—meat, eggs, and dairy products—do not have to be labeled in the EU. As a consequence, billions of dollars of GMO-tainted animal feeds, including corn, soybeans and canola, continue to be imported every year into the EU from the U.S., Canada, Brazil and Argentina. EU activists, in Germany and elsewhere, have now begun campaigning to eliminate this strategic loophole.

As the EU’s GMO food labeling law came into effect in 1997-98, activists switched gears, successfully pressuring many large supermarket chains, including Carrefour, Co-Op, Tesco, Waitrose and Marks & Spencer, and food manufacturers, including Unilever and Nestlé, to pledge to remain GMO-free. Feeling the heat from grassroots campaigners and realizing that mandatory GMO labeling would be the “kiss of death” for their brand-name products and their reputations, every major EU supermarket, food manufacturing and restaurant chain, including U.S.-based multinationals such as General Mills, Kellogg’s, McDonald’s, Starbucks and Walmart, eliminated GMOs from their supply chains. As a consequence almost no GMO-derived foods, with the exception of meat and animal products, have been sold in EU retail stores or restaurants from 1997 until now.

With no real market for GMOs, EU farmers have refused to grow them. EU activists point out that if meat, eggs and dairy products derived from animals fed GMO grains had to be labeled, there would be no GMOs in Europe. Period.

In the U.S., the battle against GE foods and crops has been markedly more difficult. Since 1994, government regulatory agencies have refused to require labels on GMOs, or to require independent safety testing beyond the obviously biased research carried out by Monsanto and other genetic engineering companies themselves.

Despite government and industry opposition, and limited funding, a growing number of pro-organic and anti-GMO campaigners carried out a variety of public education, marketplace pressure and boycotts between 1994 and 2012 designed to either ban or label GMOs. Although GMO labeling bills, which according to numerous polls are supported by the overwhelming majority of Americans, were introduced in Congress over and over again during the past two decades, none have gathered more than nominal support from lawmakers And media coverage, at least until the California GMO labeling ballot initiative in 2012 (Proposition 37) and the Washington State ballot initiative in 2013 (I-522), has been generally sparse, with reporters routinely spouting industry propaganda that GMOs are safe, environmentally sustainable and necessary to feed a growing global population.

But the tide is beginning to turn. More farmers are rejecting GMO seeds, more consumers are demanding non-GMO foods, or at the least, labels on GMO foods. And the media is beginning to give the anti-GMO movement if not its fair share, at least substantially more ink than we’ve seen in decades.

Between 1994-2012, the number of acres in the U.S. planted in GMO crops has grown significantly. Today, 169 million acres—almost half of all cultivated U.S. farmlands—are now growing GMO crops.

But despite the proliferation of GMO crops, we’re now seeing increased demand for non-GMO seeds. This is partly because farmers are growing frustrated with having to buy more and more pesticides and herbicides for GMO crops, as weeds and pests grow increasingly resistant to products like Monsanto’s Roundup.

But it’s also because organic and non-GMO farmers are speaking out about contamination of their crops by nearby GMO crops. Just this week, a new survey published by Food & Water Watch revealed that a third of U.S. organic farmers report problems with contamination from nearby GMO crops, and over half of the farmers surveyed said they’ve had grain shipments rejected because of contamination.

Increasing demand for non-GMO crops also stems from consumers’ heightened concerns about health, which in turn is increasing demand for non-GMO and organic crops and foods. The turning point in the anti-GMO Movement in the U.S. came in 2012-13 when organic and anti-GE organizations, led by the Organic Consumers Association, Food Democracy Now, Center for Food Safety, Alliance for Natural Health and others, joined by a number of organic and natural health companies including Mercola.com, Dr. Bronner’s Soaps, Nature’s Path, Lundberg Family Farms, Natural News, and Nutiva, decided to bypass the federal government and launch high-profile, multi-million dollar state ballot initiative campaigns for mandatory labeling of GMOs in California and Washington State.

Although anti-GMO campaigners narrowly lost 51%-49% in both states, large genetic engineering and food corporations were forced to spend over $70 million ($12 million of which was illegally laundered by the Grocery Manufacturers Association in Washington). In addition GMA members, most of whom are high-profile food manufacturers, seriously damaged their brands and reputations by carrying out a misleading, dirty tricks advertising campaign that flooded the airwaves in California and Washington and antagonized millions of consumers—many of whom began boycotting their products and assailing their Facebook pages.

By 2012, thanks to the massive media coverage of the California GMO labeling initiative, organic foods and products reached $35 billion in sales, representing almost 5 percent of all grocery store sales, with non-GMO “natural” food sales reaching another $15 billion.

This growth in sales has not gone unnoticed by food manufacturers and retailers. Although 75-80 percent of all non-organic processed foods contain GMOs, General Mills, Kraft General Foods, Chipotle, Ben and Jerry’s and Whole Foods Market, responding to public concern and marketplace pressure, are now moving to eliminate GMOs from some or all of their brand name products.

In the meantime, grassroots activists continue to push for mandatory labeling laws. In 2012-13, they lobbied legislators in 30 states, achieving partial success in Maine and Connecticut. In 2014 Vermont, Oregon and several others states appear poised to pass GMO labeling laws, while voters in five Oregon and California counties will attempt to pass GMO bans.

Frantically trying to head off the inevitable, the GMA and a powerful coalition of genetic engineering, industrial agriculture, restaurant, supermarket and junk food manufacturers have begun lobbying Congress to take away states’ rights to pass laws requiring GMO food labels. The GMA has also lobbied the FDA and Congress to allow the obviously fraudulent, though routine, industry practice of labeling or marketing GE-tainted foods as “natural.”

At the state level the GE Lobby, Big Food and the Farm Bureau are sponsoring bills to take away the right of counties and municipalities to pass laws banning GMOs or restricting hazardous industrial agriculture practices.

On the international front, genetic engineering, pharmaceutical and Big Food companies are attempting to subvert GMO labels or bans by “fast-tracking,” with no public input or discussion, transnational trade agreements such as the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Trans Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA). These so-called Free Trade agreements would allow multinational corporations such as Monsanto, Bayer and Dupont to sue local, state or even national governments that interfere with their profits, by passing laws regulating or banning GMOs or other controversial agricultural practices.

Although these profoundly pro-corporate and anti-consumer and anti-environmental trade agreements in theory can stop GMO labeling laws and bans from coming into effect, in political terms they are perceived by the majority of the body politic and even many state and local officials as highly authoritarian and anti-democratic. Similarly TPP and TAFTA are correctly perceived by many national political, environmental and labor leaders as undermining national sovereignty, sustainability and economic justice.

Once GMOs foods are labeled, informed consumers will move to protect themselves and their families by not buying them. Once enough consumers shun GMO-tainted and labeled foods, stores will stop selling them and food manufacturers will stop putting GMO food ingredients in their products. However as the EU experience shows, labeling must eventually be comprehensive, with a requirement for meat, eggs and dairy products to be labeled if the animals have been fed GMO feed.

But food labeling alone cannot protect the environment, or non-GMO and organic farmers from GE drift and seed contamination. This is why county and regional bans on GMO cultivation and the creation of regional GMO-free zones are important. More than 80 percent of farmers surveyed by Food & Water Watch said they were “concerned” about contamination, while 60 percent said they were “very concerned.” Farmers said a lax U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has been excessively influenced by the biotech industry.

The Food & Water Watch report comes just as the USDA has extended its public comment period on “coexistence” between GMO and non-GMO agriculture.

In the U.S. the largest food fight in history will soon intensify. Throwing gasoline on the fire, GE companies are arrogantly and foolhardily attempting to introduce genetically engineered fish, apples and “Agent Orange” (2,4 D) herbicide-resistant corn and soy on the market, just at the time when human health and environmental concerns are escalating. These new Frankenfoods and crops will survive in the marketplace only if there are no mandatory labeling laws and no legitimate safety testing.

But this “no labels” scenario is unlikely to continue. State legislative battles in Vermont, Oregon, and other states will likely reach critical mass in 2014, forcing industry and the federal government to finally adopt EU-type regulations and practices on GMOs. Once labeling is in place (including labels on meat, fish dairy, and eggs) genetic engineering companies, led by Monsanto, Dow, Dupont, Syngenta, Bayer, and BASF will have no choice but to abandon GMOs and gene-splicing, in favor of less controversial hybrid seed/cross-breeding practices (which do not require labels) such as “marker assisted breeding.”

If industry and government on the other hand dig in their heels, stomping on consumer, state, municipal and community rights, telling us to “shut up and eat your Frankenfoods,” America’s food revolution may turn into a full-scale rebellion.

America’s organic consumers and natural health advocates invite you to join us in this decisive battle to drive GMOs off the market and make the great transition to healthy and sustainable food and farming. To make a donation to this cause, the Food Fight of Our Lives, follow this link: https://salsa3.salsalabs.com/o/50865/p/salsa/donation/common/public/?donate_page_KEY=10369.

Ronnie Cummins is the international director of the Organic Consumers Association



Many organic-minded consumers can some high-acid organic vegetables such as tomatoes each summer at the peak of their ripe goodness. This year, look for the Ball canning jar company’s American Heritage Collection of special edition canning jars made with green glass. They commemorate Ball’s introduction of a series of jars in 1913-1915. They’re pretty. They’re green. They save money. And you can hand them down to your great grandkids some day.


Biggest Grocery Chains Say No to GMO Salmon

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The two largest grocery stores in the United States, Kroger and Safeway, have made commitments to not sell GMO salmon, according to statements released today by Friends of the Earth and a coalition of more than 30 consumer, health, food safety and fishing groups, including Center for Food Safety, Food and Water Watch, and Consumers Union.

These stores join other leading supermarket chains — now totaling over 9,000 stores nationwide — that have already rejected the GMO salmon that is still under review by FDA.

Kroger, the leading conventional grocery chain in the U.S. with 2,424 stores, informed Friends of the Earth of its decision in a December email from Keith Dailey, director of media relations at Kroger. “Should genetically engineered salmon be approved, Kroger has no intention of sourcing it,” Dailey wrote.
Safeway, the number two conventional grocer with 1,406 stores, confirmed their position in an email to Friends of the Earth last week.

“Should GE salmon come to market, we are not considering nor do we have any plans to carry GE salmon. The seafood products we offer will continue to be selected consistent with our Responsible Seafood Purchasing Policy, Responsible Sourcing Commitment and our partnership with FishWise,” Safeway’s statement said.

“By making commitments to not sell genetically engineered salmon, Kroger and Safeway have joined the large number of grocery chains, from Trader Joe’s to Target, that have wisely chosen to listen to the majority of consumers who do not want to eat genetically engineered fish,” said Dana Perls, Food and Technology policy campaigner with Friends of the Earth. “Now Costco, Walmart, Albertsons and other retailers need to catch up and provide their customers with what they want: natural, sustainable seafood that isn’t genetically engineered in a lab.”



You might have heard a new term floating around the Internet – “Coexistence”- an idyllic term to promote the fantasy of GMO and non-GMO crops living in harmony side by side. But Monsanto and the USDA’s new “coexistence” plan is a road to extinction for America’s organic farmers. And if approved, it will mean the end of organic food as we know it, according to Food Democracy Now.

Right now the U.S. Department of Agriculture is working with biotech lobbyists to finalize a plan so Monsanto’s GMO crops can contaminate organic and non-GMO farmers’ crops at will. Even worse, the USDA’s new plan could force these farmers to pay for crop “contamination insurance” to protect themselves against unwanted contamination by Monsanto’s patented genetically engineered genes.
When Monsanto says “coexistence”, what they really mean is: “We will contaminate organics.”

The new policy recommendations are the result of a special industry-controlled panel instigated by Secretary Vilsack in 2011 that sought to find “cooperation” between stakeholders to find a “solution” for the contamination of organic and non-GMO crops by genetically engineered pollen from neighboring fields.
GMO seeds have been widely adopted in the five main commodity crops, with more than 90 percent adoption rates of genetic engineering in corn, soy, cotton, sugar beets, canola, and alfalfa. Therefore, the genetic contamination of neighboring farmers’ fields planted with organic and non-GMO crops is virtually guaranteed. Now, as new GMO crops are being approved, it’s only a matter of time before other organic crops are contaminated too.

Despite claims by Monsanto and the USDA, nobody can overrule the laws of biology and dictate how plants reproduce. Patented GMO pollen is spread by wind, insects, birds and animals, and no matter how much Monsanto denies it, their GMO crops will contaminate and destroy the integrity of farmers’ organic and non-GMO crops.

This policy would circumvent legal victories won in court, as in the case of organic farmer Steve Marsh in Australia and the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association vs Monsanto here in the U.S. In response, Secretary Vilsack created the USDA Advisory Committee on Biotechnology and 21st Century Agriculture, known as AC21.

At Secretary Vilsack’s request, the AC21 sought to find “types of compensation mechanisms” that “would be appropriate to address economic losses by farmers in which the value of their crops is reduced by unintended presence of genetically engineered (GE) material(s).” Tragically, AC21 was dominated by pro-GMO industry lobbyists, who hijacked the agenda to protect the biotech industry.

Rather than force the patent holders of genetically engineered crops to compensate organic and non-GMO farmers when their fields are contaminated by Monsanto, DuPont, Dow Chemical and Syngenta’s patented genes, the USDA’s AC21 recommendations shift the entire cost of contamination to organic and non-GMO crop farmers.
Even worse, if the current AC21 plan is adopted, it could exempt biotech seed and chemical giants, Monsanto, DuPont and Syngenta, from any future legal liability or financial compensation to organic and non-GMO farmers whose crops become contaminated.

By supporting the USDA’s new “coexistence” plan, farmers may have to forfeit their right to file future claims of economic injury and damages against Monsanto. That’s because new “coexistence” rules could impose mandatory arbitration that would prohibit farmers from taking Monsanto to court over GMO contamination. Forever.

While the USDA claims that it has “unequivocal” support for all forms of agriculture and its policies will be based on “science-based stewardship,” the truth is that Monsanto and the USDA know it’s impossible to control “gene flow” once a GMO crop is approved.

The fact is, contamination has been a part of the biotech industry’s GMO strategy from the beginning. In 2001, biotech industry consultant Don Westfall told the Toronto Star: “The hope of the industry is that over time the market is so flooded
that there’s nothing you can do about it. You just sort of surrender.”

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Farming with genetically engineered seed has altered our daily exposure to chemicals, such that even the rain and air contains physiologically active levels of glyphosate from corporate agriculture’s war against any plant not part of its monocultured, genetically engineered system of production, according to an article in Wake Up World.

With a significant body of research now available showing that glyphosate and its components are far more toxic than believed at the time of its government approval, the implications of ubiquitous glyphosate exposure should be carefully considered.

Ultimately, findings like these reveal that the perception of choice and health freedom, when it comes to the consumer’s right to avoid harm from GMOs by refusing to buy or consume them, is illusory. Not only are consumers in the U.S. not allowed to know what is in their food with accurate and truthful labeling of ingredients, we now know that biopollution from GMOs produces uncontrollable and irreversible changes in the genomes of other organisms—including humans.

The contamination of GM foods with herbicides like Roundup (glyphosate) makes them not equivalent to their non-contaminated alternatives. The reality is that the environment is becoming so saturated with the fall out from the ever-expanding GM agrichemical farming grid that even if you somehow find a way to avoid eating contaminated food, you will be forced to have to deal with its adverse health effects, as long as you need air to breath and water to drink.

Ultimately, unless our food production system moves beyond its present chemical war-modeled phase of GMO monoculturing, even non-GMO food will end up being contaminated with these chemicals and rogue genes, because nothing ‘natural’ lives in a vacuum – and if it does, then it really shouldn’t be called “organic,” and maybe shouldn’t even be called food.