It’s the poor who need organic most — Schlosser

Fast Food Nation author Eric Schlosser told a major conference last month that it was the “farm workers, the poor and people of colour in America who most need organic”.

Schlosser was addressing the Future of Food conference held at Georgetown University, Washington DC.

He told the conference: “What has brought this diverse group here today — the farm worker advocate and the future King ( a reference to the presence of the Prince of Wales), the urban farmer from Milwaukee and the organic farmer from Montana, who also happens to be a US senator — is the belief that the current food system is broken.”

Schlosser said that the chemical companies and the biotech companies liked to “dismiss organic food as something trendy and elitist”. But he openly challenged this view, asking: “Do you know who really needs organic food more than anyone else?” It was, he said, “the two million farm workers in the US who pick by hand the fresh fruit and vegetables we eat in the United Sates each day.” For these people, and their children, organic food wasn’t an academic issue — it was “literally a matter of life and death.

He went on: “Pesticides are poisons — they have been carefully designed to kill insects, weeds, fungicides and rodents. But they can also kill human beings. The US FDA says that each year 30,000 American farm workers suffer acute pesticide poisoning on the job — and that is probably a great understatement. What are the potential harms from these poisonings? — brain damage, lung damage, cancer, birth defects. So that’s who needs organic food in America; the men, women and children who harvest our food.”