The recent press coverage regarding the FSA report has angered me - what alot of nonsense - here is my letter to the local paper on the subject sent earlier this week:
Photo: Chemical farming
The Weekend Citizen (1/08/09) interviewed shoppers in Gloucester and found doubts about the Food Standards Agency (FSA) report concluding that organic food has no nutritional benefits over conventionally produced food.
People are right to have doubts. Many, including the Soil Association, have criticised the report for looking only at papers written in English, excluding almost half the papers, and ignoring the most recent research from the EU that found large nutritional differences (i). In fact the FSA, despite their conclusions, also found very significant differences in nutritional content like 53.6 per cent more betacarotene in organic veg, 38.4 per cent more flavonoids and 12.7 per cent more proteins. Yet these findings were dismissed.
As most of us understand, the benefits of organic food go far beyond nutrition or taste. For example organic farms have on average 50% more wildlife like birds, butterflies and bees, use less fossil fuels and have less impact on our climate. They also have better animal welfare: no vast hangars of pigs and poultry pumped full of growth hormones and antibiotics.
Yet the FSA has failed to address these issues and the long-term effects of pesticides and herbicides on our health. The European Commission, in 2006, reported links between cancers, infertility and nervous system disorders and exposure to pesticides. The average industrially-produced apple can be sprayed up to 16 times with 30 different chemicals (iii). Isn't it common sense, that stuff that kills insects, will impact on humans when consumed?
The FSA has failed us. It is meant to be an organisation for improving our food, yet it is mistakenly pushes genetic modification and more intensification. Do they really think we can go on pumping chemicals into our livestock and earth?
Cllr. Philip Booth, Stroud District Green Party.
(ii) One of the report's authors wrote: "A small number of differences in nutrient content were found to exist between organically and conventionally produced foodstuffs, but these are unlikely to be of any public health relevance." Here are some of the "irrelevant" nutritional differences they found in organic foods:
* Protein: 12.7% higher
* Beta-carotene: 53.6% higher
* Flavonoids: 38.4% higher
* Phenolic compounds: 13.2% higher
* Copper: 8.3% higher
* Magnesium: 7.1% higher
* Phosphorous: 6% higher
* Sodium: 8.7% higher
* Sulphur: 10.5% higher
* Zinc: 11.3% higher
(iii) See Joanne Blythman 'A cancerous conspiracy to poison your faith in organic food'