Ethical Issues Concerning Organic Certification and Labeling of the Food We Eat.

Topics: Organic food, Organic certification, Organic farming Pages: 7 (2822 words) Published: January 29, 2013
Are we truly being ethical consumers by buying organic food products? Ethical issues concerning organic certification and labeling of the food we eat.

This paper explores the ethical issues concerning the certification of organic food products. Consumers have a higher tendency to purchase food products labeled as organic due to their concern for the environment and other purposes intended by organic foods. As such, the organic food market has seen an increasing growth trend in sales. However, it has been uncovered that many companies that produce supposed organic foods do not truly conduct their production process as fittingly as proponents of organic food intended. In this case, consumers are not getting what they bargained for when buying organic foods. Instead organic food labels have become a marketing device for food companies. This paper critically examine if this type of advertising misleads the consumer and poses an ethical dilemma. Introduction

In the past twenty years, with research and increased knowledge, consumers are more aware of the source of the food they buy. In particular, organic certified food products have became more popular and essential to their diet. Such certification for food has been implanted due to ethical concerns, ranging from health to environment to food modification issues, such that consumers can make more informed choices. However, the commercial success and ease of attaining the certifications have raised critical eyebrows – are they really resolving the concerns they were meant to, or are they a new set of ethical dilemmas? This paper aims to look at the extent to which organic food certification is used as a marketing tool and in turn the ethical concerns rose. Organic Certification for Food

The true intent of organic foods is to produce fruits and vegetables, and raise livestock in an environmentally friendly and sustainable way. This includes minimal usage of resources, maintaining the fertility of the soil used and treating the livestock animals without cruelty by providing them with reasonable living and growing conditions. Increased concerns about global warming in turn boosted the focus on organic produce. Hence, consumers of organic foods feel that they are doing a part for environmental sustenance as well as protecting themselves from hazards of non-organic foods such as genetically modified foods and produce sprayed with chemical pesticides. Since the United States Department of Agriculture established legal standards for organic foods in 2002, the market has grown from an $8billion to $30billon business. Given the nature of organic food production, experts in the field are doubtful about the industry’s ability to meet the growing demands. It has been noticed that many of those so-called certified organic foods fail to meet their purpose despite meeting labeling requirements, which are, the method of production, substances used in production and authorization by certified agent. These are a set of basic standards that can be manipulated by farm owners. Many farms operated by multi-national companies still use systems that are sufficient to meet the standard necessitated to be organic, but not the original intention of organic foods. For example, a Californian farm produces certified organic tomatoes using high irrigation, which strictly, defeats the main intention of being organic. What consumers fail to realize is that, the certification of organic is not as truly organic they deem, given the lenient standards. Thus, sale of such organic foods are based on the certification the foods receive and not because they are organic as consumers perceive it to be. On the other hand, it can be argued that such certification regulators has taken reasonable steps to ensure that corporations do not casually use the word ‘organic’ to attract consumers. According to the USDA standards, there are a variety of ways with which foods can be classified as organic: 100% organic...
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