08/14/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

What Do You Think About the Purity of the "Organic" Label?

There is a debate brewing around the integrity of the term "organic." Much of the controversy is focused on the 5 percent of a USDA-certified organic product that can consist of non-organic substances, provided they are approved by the National Organic Standards Board. That list has grown from 77 to 245 substances since it was created in 2002.

Companies must appeal to the board every five years to keep a substance on the list, explaining why an organic alternative has not been found. The goal was to shrink the list over time, but only one item has been removed so far.

From the outset, farmers and consumer advocates have been concerned about safeguarding the integrity of the organic label, and have for the most part opposed additions to the list. But others argue that broadening the law has allowed the industry to meet growing demand by multiplying the number of organic products and greatly increasing the amount of agricultural land that is being managed organically.

The argument is not over whether the non-organic ingredients pose a health threat, but whether they weaken the integrity of the federal organic label. A fundamental philosophy shared by many in the organic community is that whole foods are more nourishing than over-processed foods into which nutrients are added to make them better. It's an ongoing debate and one primarily fought well out of sight from most consumers. But we thought it might be something for you to consider.

What's your view? Read more and let us know what you think.