Wednesday, January 31, 2007

No evidence organic food is better for our health, says Minister

Highly-priced organic food is no better for us than conventionally-grown farm produce, a Minister claimed.

Environment Secretary David Miliband said consumers who opted for chemical-free, naturally-produced food did so as a 'lifestyle choice' rather than because science had proved it was healthier.

Organic food accounts for only 4 per cent of farm produce. But sales have doubled in six years to £1.6billion last year and are forecast to be worth £2.7billion by 2010.

Many consumers say the food tastes better, but it is more expensive. For example, an organic chicken costs around £8.50 in a supermarket, almost three times the price of a more conventionally-reared bird. Mr

Miliband said the rise of organic food was 'exciting' but produce grown using pesticides and other chemicals should not be regarded as 'second best'.

In an interview with the Sunday Times, the Minister said: 'It's a lifestyle choice that people can make. There isn't any conclusive evidence either way.

'It's only 4 per cent of total farm produce, not 40 per cent, and I would not want to say that 96 per cent of our farm produce is inferior because it's not organic.'

Around 350 pesticides are allowed in conventional farming, and an estimated 4.5bil-lion litres of chemicals are used on British farms each year.

The Soil Association, the leading representative of organic producers, admitted there was a lack of studies showing how organic food could be healthier

But its campaigns director Robin Maynard said tests found higher levels of vitamin C in organic produce, and recent research into organic milk had proved it contained more omega 3.

Source - Daily Mail

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