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Fighting "Fake News" About Organic Food

Stacy Malkan with U.S. Right to Know shares strategies for what she calls "rewriting the narrative" about the nation's food system. (OEFFA)
Stacy Malkan with U.S. Right to Know shares strategies for what she calls "rewriting the narrative" about the nation's food system. (OEFFA)
January 2, 2018

DAYTON, Ohio – As if dredged out of the pages of the tobacco industry's marketing playbook, an investigative journalist and author says there's a robust campaign underway to downplay the benefits of organic agriculture.

Stacy Malkan, co-founder of the group U.S. Right to Know, says so-called fake news is being generated about organic foods, and big corporations in agriculture are engineering some of their own facts about the long-term impacts of genetically-modified foods.

Malkan says the results leave consumers at risk.

"And a lot of times, they're really attacking scientists, consumer groups, media reporters – anyone who's really presenting the information about the risks associated with this kind of farming," she states.

While big agricultural companies point to cost savings in using genetically-modified organisms (GMOs), Malkan says the industry is resisting a growing consumer demand for all-natural, organic foods.

Malkan will share her findings Feb. 17 during a keynote speech and workshop at the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association’s (OEFFA) annual conference in Dayton.

Malkan says it's challenging to really know what's on our plates, as unlabeled GMOs have quietly filled supermarket shelves. She sees most of the deceptive marketing tactics directed at food regulators.

"Where it really does tend to work is in the policy arena, and in the laws that continue to keep the playing field uneven for organic, and for smaller farming systems," she states.

While it might be getting more difficult, Malkan adds it's even more important for consumers to stay informed and demand transparency in the country's food networks. She recommends that people support watchdog groups that are leading the charge.

"We've really learned a lot in just the last couple of years about who's doing what, in this world of spinning the story of food,” she points out. “So, we've got lots of that up on our website, usrtk.org."

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, consumer demand for organically produced goods continues to show double-digit growth.

Trimmel Gomes, Public News Service - OH