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New York Times: Columnist Analysis, Essay Example

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In this paper I will briefly summarize and put into standard form the logic of Roger Cohen’s September 6, 2012 column entitled “The Organic Fable” (Cohen, 2012). Cohen, a foreign correspondent and economics writer, has no apparent personal or professional biases or even any particular expertise in the field of organic food. However, his knowledge of economics probably underlies his perception of the true social and economic nature of organic marketing.

Cohen’s argument is that organic food is more about class than nutrition. Its products are simply premium-priced and higher quality, but not more nutritious. He cites a 40-year study backing that latter claim. He readily agrees that organic farming itself has its virtues: it doesn’t use pesticides; its use has spurred the resurgence of small farms and local food; and the “organic” label enforces strict environmental standards. But Cohen argues that to achieve a larger sustainable scale, organic farms — which are low-yield — and their customers should embrace genetically modified (GM) foods to combine the latter’s high-yield economies of scale.

Premises of the argument

  1. The earth’s population is rapidly growing;
  2. Much cheaper non-organic, GM food is just as nutritious as organic food;
  3. Pesticides are bad for the planet;
  4. GM foods are: a) safe to eat and b) require fewer or no pesticides. Conclusion: combining organic methods with GM seeds could safely feed the world. The argument is valid, but 4 a) cannot be assumed as true and Cohen did not include a study supporting it. Argument technique: controversion of the “organic” viewpoint.

Work Cited

Cohen, R. (2012, September 6). The Organic Fable. Retrieved from New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/07/opinion/roger-cohen-the-organic-fable.html

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