Corporate biases regarding organic produce

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I am a 50-year organic vegetable grower and the author of “The All Natural Vegetable Garden: Art and Science.” There! I tell you my biases up front. Henry I. Miller, who attacked organic agriculture in “The Myth of Organic Agriculture” (Jan. 12), did not tell his biases.

He works at the Hoover Institution, a conservative think tank in California. In the past he has worked with organizations funded by corporations like Phillip Morris in its fight to say cigarettes don’t cause cancer; with Monsanto, the international agri-chemical and bio-tech company in its fight to push more chemicals and GMOs (genetically modified organisms) into our food supply; and with oil and gas giant Exxon Mobil in its fight to deny climate change. It’s not surprising that someone who has worked for the profit of corporations should oppose the rising tide of organic agriculture and its disconnect from those corporations.

It is surprising, though, that Dr. Miller would misrepresent the conclusion of the study central to his argument. He says the study suggested that there is little or no advantage to organic food. The study actually concludes: “Consumption of organic foods may reduce exposure to pesticide residues and antibiotic-resistant bacteria.”

And it is certainly surprising that Dr. Miller, when he discusses the human consequences of agriculture, can only mention the backbreaking nature of farming. He must have forgotten the human consequences for the people who live in farm country or for the farm workers who labor in the fields. I think Dr. Miller should remember what Pittsburgher and now UCLA theater artist and food activist Peter Sellars says: “When you taste the strawberry picked by that farm worker, can you taste the cancer, can you taste the miscarriage?”


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