“Organic” Baby Food May Soon Contain Who-Knows-What

October 9, 2012
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synthetic baby foodThe National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) is even considering allowing genetically engineered vaccines for organic livestock. Action Alert!

The NOSB—a division of the USDA—is responsible for regulating all organic crops and determining what can be called “Certified Organic.” The board is meeting next week, and on the agenda will be whether to allow eight synthetic substances in organic baby food, primarily in organic infant formula.

The substances in question—ascorbyl palmitate, synthetic beta-carotene, a proprietary form of lutein, synthetic lycopene, synthetic l-carnitine, synthetic l-methionine, synthetic taurine, and nucleotides—all have organic alternatives, are not nutritionally necessary as additives, and might be difficult for the infant’s body to process.

In particular, ascorbyl palmitate (AP) and synthetic beta carotene are used as preservatives in infant formula to prevent them from oxidizing and becoming rancid. However, organic standards state that synthetic ingredients cannot qualify as organic if their primary purpose is as a preservative. The International Formula Council, which is trying to get them included, is hoping to sneak around the restriction by never using the word “preservative” in its justification, instead calling them “antioxidants” and saying they “prevent rancidity.” AP has no nutritional value; its sole purpose is to extend shelf life. This is the very definition of a preservative—and the opposite of an organic product. More to the point, organic alternatives exist for AP (such as rosemary extract and tocopherols) and also for synthetic beta carotene.

The NOSB background materials say “it remains inconclusive whether or not the body actually utilizes ascorbic acid that is metabolized from ascorbic palmitate,” which makes AP particularly unsuitable for infants.

A synthetic substance is never supposed to be in organic food unless (a) it is essential and (b) there is no organic alternative. None of the above substances qualify for either of the two requirements. Manufacture of this particular brand of lutein is a proprietary secret, so even the NOSB does not know if it is synthetic or not. They are thus hardly able to certify that the product is harmless!

This, however, may not mean much to the NOSB. As we reported last year, the NOSB approved synthetic ARA and DHA, both of which were genetically engineered and used toxic extraction methods.

At this board meeting, the NOSB will also discuss the use of GMO vaccines in livestock. For Certified Organic foods, GMO vaccines cannot be used unless they are specifically added to the approved list (and none has been added to date). However, there have been reports of organic farmers using them anyway, and the National Organic Program has so far been unwilling to enforce the law against them. The NOSB should demand compliance from the NOP, and ask them to review all information on vaccines to determine which are organic and which are prohibited because they are genetically engineered.

Why is the NOSB allowing such dilution of the organic standards? The New York Times reports that more than 250 nonorganic substances have been added to the list of allowed substances in organic foods, up from 77 in 2002. Some of these substances are dubious, to say the least: besides the aforementioned GMO DHA, carrageenan—a frequently seen additive in organic foods—has no nutritional value and is only used as a thickening agent; it was approved as a food additive in 1995 based on a deficient technical review by scientists who had corporate ties.

The US Department of Agriculture, which took over organic standards in order to control them, is in actuality no fan of organic agriculture. But the department is very responsive to big food companies. And as we noted last month, the vast majority of organic brands are actually owned by Big Food companies, with only a limited number of independent organic brands still around. Some of these major corporations have seats on the NOSB—and they, of course, are the biggest advocates for allowing synthetics.

Take a look, for example, at General Mills. Last year, a General Mills exec was sitting on the NOSB when the inclusion of DHA was being decided. The company that manufactures DHA sometimes uses technology licensed from General Mills to make it. Coincidence? Of course not. Big Food has an interest in promoting genetic engineering and nanotechnology, since they have invested so much of their R&D budget into them.

Three seats on the board are designated for consumer advocates, but they have never been filled from traditional advocacy groups, instead going to corporate executives. Sometimes Big Food execs are shoehorned into seats on the NOSB: an executive from Driscolls, the huge California berry producer, was given a seat that was supposed to be filled by someone who “owns or operates an organic farming operation.” She resigned after a major public outcry, but later rejoined board in a different capacity.

Action Alert! Please write to the National Organic Standards Board. Ask them to prohibit the use of synthetic substances in organic baby food—especially synthetic substances that are used as preservatives and have no nutritional value. Also ask the NOSB to strongly recommend that the National Organics Program exercise its oversight and prohibit GMO vaccines from being used on organic livestock.

Take Action!

14 Responses to ““Organic” Baby Food May Soon Contain Who-Knows-What”

  1. Victoria says:

    It looks like everything possible is being done to make us as unhealthy as possible. It really freaks me out that I can no longer trust USDA Organic label. Why do I trust then?

       0 likes

  2. Wendy Howard says:

    Aren’t the conclusions from this obvious? It’s no longer possible to trust anything originating from corporate sources. The supposed ‘regulatory agencies’ have all been infiltrated and bought out. The entire system is corrupt. The only answer is to grow your own and share with trusted friends and neighbours. And the wonderful thing about doing this is that you withdraw your support for the system in the only form that really matters to it … $$$$$

       1 likes

    • k solis says:

      For all you all out there thinking that you can grow your own organic food and share it with your neighbors, there is now legislation proposed making the sharing with neighbors illegal. All of your god-given rights related to pure organic food are being usurped by processed food-related corporations. Even look at the educational system. I graduated from Rutgers University in 1990. Even back then there was a thriving “Food Science” program, with major grants from Nabisco and MAJOR infrastructure funded by Nabisco and other corporations. Tons of graduates with PhD’s graduate with the technical knowledge related to the food processing industry every year, indoctrinated into the system funded and built by the corporations themselves. There is a nefarious relationship with government and industry in any field we might mention. To get the root of things we have to look at the financial ties of industry to BOTH government AND education. Just an FYI.

         0 likes

  3. Sandra M Zwingelberg says:

    I signed up on the NOSB website awhile back. It is a real eye opener as to how “un~organic”, organic is. I concede some questionable things may have to be used occasionally, but it appears to go beyond that when it comes to many of the things they are allowing in Organic. Thank Goodness for groups like Alliance for Natural Health, Food Democracy Now, Food and Water Watch, Organic Consumers Association, Mercola.com, and others watchdogging the Organic World. I’m with the previous commenter, it’s either Organic or it’s Not. It’s a great thing that many communities have gardens for people to grow their own food. Also Urban farming co-ops where local people are supplying the food. This will ensure that a person can obtain healty untainted organic! It could be a whole new green job market, people growing organic food in small gardens, ensuring the citizen’s health!

       2 likes

    • anthony davis says:

      GM Wheat May Damage Human Genetics Permanently
      OCTOBER 18, 2012
      The Australian government, in the form of its science research arm, is joining Agribusiness profiteering by designing a GM wheat that could kill people who eat it & be inherited by their children.

      by Heidi Stevenson

      We have not yet seen the worst damage that genetic engineering may do. Australia’s governmental agency, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), is developing a wheat species that is engineered to turn off genes permanently.

      Professor Jack Heinemann at the University of Canterbury’s Centre for Integrated Research in Biosafety has studied the wheat’s potential. Digital Journal reports that he says1:

      What we found is that the molecules created in this wheat, intended to silence wheat genes, can match human genes, and through ingestion, these molecules can enter human beings and potentially silence our genes. The findings are absolutely assured. There is no doubt that these matches exist.

      The implications are clarified by Professor Judy Carman of Flinders University:

      If this silences the same gene in us that it silences in the wheat—well, children who are born with this enzyme not working tend to die by the age of about five.

      Silencing the equivalent gene in humans that is silenced in this genetically modified wheat holds the potential of killing people. But it gets worse. Silenced genes are permanently silenced and can be passed down the generations.

      Silenced Genes
      The wheat genes involved are called SEI. The specific sequences of those genes are being termed classified confidential information. CSIRO, which is part of the Australian government, is developing a commercial application, but refuses to divulge the information that’s most significant to the people of Australia! The government is apparently more interested in profits than in the people’s safety.

      Dr. Heinemann was asked to provide his opinion of CSIRO’s genetic engineering on wheat plants and produced the report “Evaluation of risks from creation of novel RNA molecules in genetically engineered wheat plants and recommendations for risk assessment”2. He discusses the nature of the genetic entities that are being played with and explains how they can affect human health.

      RNA is similar to DNA, which is the molecule that carries genetic inheritance. There are several types of RNA, but a particular group called double stranded RNA (dsRNA) is of concern…

         0 likes

  4. David Alonzi says:

    I ‘m glad and inspired to see people awake and speaking out against these horrors! Are we on earth? Are these people running this planet human?! …….Also, I would like to point out that we have all these petitions against GMO labeling and the like, but I don’t know why we don’t have one to eradicate GMO food period! Monsanto corporation should be re-named ” MONSPSYCHO . “This stuff is dangerous & unfit for animals let alone humans! (as you can clearly see in Jeffrey M. Smith’s speeches on you-tube )and one’s own common sense will warn you ! How can these people be allowed at all to enforce and inflict this evil science and furthermore on our food supply!!! ??

       6 likes

    • fire says:

      yes, we should close Monsano Lab down and any other lab, that tries to GM foods and insects, animals, people etc.. Stop there research on GMO’s and their progression on other foods, like apples now, also insects, they have GM mosquitos now. Enough, we have killer bees that are GM and now they are calling their honey organic! No way do I want to feed my family contaminated, poison foods!

         2 likes

  5. Linda Vij says:

    To the extent you are what you eat, it is concerning that the National Organic Standards Board now wants to permit adulteration of “organic”food. Dietary decline jeopardises the future of the U.S. Ultimately its prosperity depends on capacity of its citizens. The basic threat to the future of the U.S. (and copycat allies like Australia) is not terrorism or international competition! It is incapacity of its citizens to be positively creative, in the original spirit that put them on the map. What future does a poorly fed and over-drugged nation have?

       4 likes

  6. Rex Kittle says:

    WOW! These people need to get the same shots as cows get using GMO’s Vaccines! Everyone one on the NOSB are all on company boards. NOBS mean NO Bull from the USDA ! I want the USDA to hand over all legal rights to the people who want organic, live organics, and eat organics. You people are not Americans!

       4 likes

  7. Michele Beckett says:

    Either the food is Organic or it isn’t Time we get a new Board for Organic Labeling. I think their time is done, pockets full.

    Organic will prevail and some other Country will be making Millions….

       2 likes

  8. Linda Reens says:

    Genetically engineered vaccines for organic livestock should not be pursued. If a customer prefers to have organic products, these products need to remain pure. Otherwise, what’s the sense. Caving in to the wishes of big corporations, is not ethically sound. Please do not allow this travesty to happen.

       2 likes

  9. Rick Zuber says:

    I realize that the NOSB is primarily there to protect coroprate profits, not organic produce consumers, and before long there will be nearly no difference between organically grown and chemically grown food.
    The fox is guarding the henhouse and I see now that I need to be able to produce all my family’s food as the label ‘organic’ has been adulterated.

       1 likes

  10. Cody Clark says:

    If the label says organic then in my opinion EVERY ingredient in the product should be organic, less the “organic” label be removed. If you buy a ring labeled gold you wouldn’t want to find out that after you took it home and wore it for a while your fingers started turning green. You wouldn’t be a happy camper when you found out that it was mostly gold but it was also made with 30% lead. Not only did you get cheated out of what you thought was an honest buy, but you’re being poisoned intentionally and without your knowledge.

       3 likes

  11. floramae says:

    I would start making my own baby food, cheaper too, and you know what’s in it, and don’t give me…..I don’t have time, if you want a well baby you will find the time!

       2 likes

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