A Farewell Warning to the National Organic Program

We all suffered a terrible defeat for organic farming at the Jacksonville National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) meeting last week when hydroponics was welcomed into organic certification. At the end of the meeting, Francis Thicke gave his farewell address. After 5 years as a member of the NOSB, his despair was evident at the Board's decision to abandon soil as the foundation of organic farming. This NOSB failure to protect organic standards was a watershed in the National Organic Program. The new recommendation to prohibit hydroponic production was defeated in an 8 to 7 vote, despite a large presence of real organic farmers at the meeting. It is a rare event to have "farmers" who aren't wearing suits at an NOSB meeting, let alone such an unprecedented turnout of organic pioneers!  Of over 30 soil farmers testifying, only one spoke in support of hydroponics. After this meeting, farmers will be even rarer in the future. The 8 to 7 vote was a startling reversal of the 2010 NOSB recommendation banning soil-less growing from organic standards. The 2010 recommendation passed 12 to 1. After the vote, Francis Thicke's short farewell message (below) reminded me of the farewell speech that Dwight Eisenhower gave upon leaving office in 1961. Eisenhower warned of the creation of the "military-industrial complex" that we now take for granted as a terrible part of life. Francis' warning about the corporate takeover of the National Organic Program is quite similar.

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