Oct 11, 2010
12:31 PMThe Wind Machine
A Vacuous Term
Part of my work involves keeping track of actions by federal agencies that may affect the work of our fruit growers, shippers, and marketers. Last week, the Federal Trade Commission announced proposed revisions to its “Green Guides”, which cover product advertising aimed at consumers. Here, the flexible netherworld of eco-marketing is the focus of regulatory concern.
What does the FTC have to say about such terms as “organic” and “sustainability”? For “organic”, it leaves regulatory oversight to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. For “sustainability” it ducks the issue.
“The Commission …is unable to provide specific advice on sustainable as an environmental marketing claim. Unlike other claims we tested, the term contains no cue alerting consumers that it refers to the environment. [… ]given the diversity of possible phrases and imagery, testing the claim in context was not practical. Therefore, the Commission lacks a sufficient basis to provide meaningful guidance on the use of sustainable as an environmental marketing term.” (Page 127 of Federal Register Notice of 10/6/10.)
Before reaching its conclusion, the FTC noted: “Several commenters asserted that there is no clear understanding of the term, not just for the typical consumer, but among experts and business managers.”
POLITICAL FRUIT: “Whether talking over the din of a metal processing plant at a rally put on by the United Steelworkers union or at a Strickland fundraiser in the art-filled, elegant home of a fireworks mogul, Biden cherry-picked hopeful economic statistics …”
— David Broder in The Washington Post (10/7/10).