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Agriculture

Organic Battle Brewing Over Hydroponics

hydroponic_vegetables.jpg
b inxee, flickr Creative Commons
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Hydroponic vegetables

What it means to grow organic produce may be re-defined. Kristofor Husted reports on infighting in the organic world.

Some farmers grow produce, not in soil, but in water: A system called hydroponics, and they want to be able to label their fruits and vegetables as organic.

But many growers say the very point of organic produce is to nurture soil.

The National Organic Standards Board makes recommendations to the Agriculture Department. Board member Emily Oakley says it plans to send a strong message that hydroponic systems are not organic.

“It’s a difficult issue to take a stand on," Oakley says. "They’re looking for the most clear language possible to allow them to take a stand.”

Hydroponic advocates say the system is sustainable and can facilitate access to healthful food. Ultimately, it’s up to the Agriculture Department.