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Organic Integrity Under Attack: Soil-less Organics?

A California district court judge has ruled that hydroponic fruits, vegetables, and crops, grown in containers rather than soil, can continue to be labeled and marketed as “USDA Organic,” despite widespread complaints from organic consumers and farmers. 

The Center for Food Safety, who filed a lawsuit along with a number of organic farms and organizations to stop hydroponic foods from being labeled as “USDA Organic,” commented on this highly unpopular court decision: 

“Under the Court’s ruling, hydroponic producers can sell their crops as organic without building soil fertility, yet organic farmers growing food in soil have to meet various soil-building requirements to be certified organic,” said Sylvia Wu, senior attorney with Center for Food Safety and counsel for plaintiffs. “This double standard violates the very purpose of the organic label and is contrary to the federal organic act. We are analyzing all our legal options and will continue to work hard to defend the meaning of the organic label.”

OCA and our allies urge consumers and farmers to continue to pressure the Biden Administration and the USDA to stop the corporate agribusiness “capture” of National Organic Program standards, which currently allow factory-farmed poultry, eggs, and dairy, as well as soil-less hydroponics, to display the “USDA Organic” label, unfairly penalizing the overwhelming majority of organic farmers and brands who uphold organic integrity.

Read more: Court Rules Soil-less Hydroponics Allowed Under Organic Standards, Organic Farmers/Consumers Say No

Read more: We Fought the Law, and the Law Won