Jay Vroom, president and CEO, CropLife America.
Jay Vroom, president and CEO, CropLife America.

This past weekend on Independence Day, we celebrated America’s freedoms including the First Amendment of the Constitution protecting the freedom of speech. The holiday reminded me of the importance of continuing to talk about agriculture and food production and include everyone in the conversation. With input from people with varying viewpoints, we can better provide healthy options and nutritious choices for all of our families.

At CropLife America, we support all forms of modern agriculture—including the modern methods and products used by organic farmers, many of whom are customers of CLA members who discover and develop organic-certified biopesticides. The benefits of all modern ag science-based technology, including organic-certified plus all of the rest, provide huge benefits to consumers in the form of nutritious and abundant food at a lower price. Moreover, modern farming practices help lower carbon air emissions, reduce soil erosion and produce more food on less land, benefiting wildlife with more land available for habitat.

Last week, Friends of the Earth (FOE) released its Spinning Food report discussing organic vs. conventional farming methods. While the conversation on food needs input from everyone, we must not accept ‘opinion’ as ‘fact’. For instance, the FOE report states, “There is a growing body of science that is guiding vulnerable communities and parents to make healthier, organic choices,”1 yet those words are only half-true. Studies are guiding parents to make healthy choices, but those fruits and vegetables can be grown through organic or conventional methods—there is no nutritional difference.

While the organic market is growing, it is important to note that FOE’s own report shows that much of that U.S. consumer spending on organic food goes to farmers outside the U.S.—a reminder that many organic products rely on labor that simply is not available in the U.S. In addition, the business of environmental activism is a big business, generating millions of dollars of revenue that is spent on communications outreach via mass media and social media. FOE’s revenue, for instance, in Fiscal Year 2012-13 was $7,475,000.2

The FOE report reinforces the need to demand scientific rigor in agriculture. CLA encourages everyone to speak up about food production and sustainable farming. Together, our collective voices can develop an agricultural system that makes sure everyone has access to healthy food options.”

1 Friends of the Earth, Spinning Food. Page 17. June 2015.

2 GuideStar, http://www.guidestar.org/organizations/23-7420660/friends-earth.aspx#financials