Organic: What’s in a Name?

Should a pest control product sold by Walmart and labeled both "organic" and "USDA organic" contain organically produced ingredients? The Wisconsin-based Cornucopia Institute, a non-profit public interest group "promoting economic justice for family scale farming," is taking the following radical stance: Yes, it probably should.

The institute has, to quote their news release: "filed legal complaints with the USDA alleging that Walmart, and a North Carolina-based company, HOMS LLC, are violating the USDA organic standards by using conventional agricultural oils, and other ingredients, in pest control products that bear the word organic and the green 'USDA organic' seal."

What the Cornucopia Institute is driving at vis-a-vis Walmart is the not-so-hidden side of the green/humane/organic revolution: people want to feel good about what they're buying, but they don't necessarily want to pay a lot more for their food and household products.

Although pest control is the issue of the day, the Cornucopia Institute's bugbear (mislabeling) echoes loudly within the realm of food and drink. The Institute has been on Walmart's case before:

"Inside Walmart stores, Cornucopia researchers at the time [2007] discovered that the company was mislabeling conventional foods as organic, including yogurt, sugar, rice milk, soy milk, and produce."

Labels like "organic" are worth money, and if counterfeits can float through the marketplace without being detected and exposed, counterfeiters will do their thing--just as they have in just about every other sphere of economic activity. Regardless of the HOMS Bio-Block product complaint comes out, it's a reminder that if a product seems too good to be true, it's probably worth checking out.