First the European Union urged caution on the marketing of cloned animals, and now it's — can you believe it? — actively encouraging organic farming and foods through its "Organic Farming: Good for Nature, Good for You" campaign announced this week. It's a step in the action plan laid out by the European Commission (sort of the executive committee of the EU) in 2004 to promote organic agriculture and rural development.
The campaign encompasses literature, posters, videos and more extolling the virtues of organic methods for consumers and the environment — in 22 languages, no less. How bizarre. Go to the Good for Nature, Good for You site. Pick your language. Look at the resources. It's like being in a parallel universe.
Naturally, the USDA's Economic Research Service has studied the situation. (We're very big on studies here in the U.S.) The report, "Market-Led Versus Government-Facilitated Growth: Development of the U.S. and EU Organic Agricultural Sectors," (PDF) concludes:
Thus, the state of the organic sector in the two regions suggests that divergent policy directions do not matter in terms of meeting consumer demand, but they do matter in terms of satisfying other rationales for supporting organic agriculture.
And, of course, those other rationales don't seem to matter much in Washington. Maybe our policymakers should take a look at the new EU site and read some of the materials.