The Food Standards Agency’s report completely failed to address the long-term effects of farming chemicals on human health, writes Molly Conisbee.
The study, which concentrated on the nutritional content of organic food compared to non-organic food, claimed there was little difference between the two. But with closer reading the researchers do report in their analysis that there are higher levels of beneficial nutrients, such as falvonoids and beta carotene, in organic compared to non-organic foods. But the FSA don’t consider these differences to be “important”.
The study concluded that there was no need for people to buy organic food for health benefits, but people don’t only buy organic food because they think it will make them healthier. The EU’s Quality Low Input Food project has found that regular buyers of organic food have a much more sophisticated understanding of the range of benefits that organic farming and food deliver, which stretch well beyond the nutritional.
The environmental advantages are self-evident: organic farms have on average 30 per cent more species and 50 per cent more overall numbers of wildlife such as birds, butterflies and bees. Compassion in World Farming, the recognized experts on animal welfare, says organic farming has the potential for the highest animal welfare standards. Artificial nitrogen fertilizer is banned in organic farming, so there are fewer run-offs of nutrients that cause the algae blooms in coastal waters which can have severe impacts on wildlife. There is also less dangerous waste on organic farms than on non-organic farms.
Our future will be dominated by climate change. Here organic farming is leading the way, by using solar powered fertility through crops like red clover that fix nitrogen into the soil for subsequent crops. For our own health and the health of the planet, organic food and farming will play a big part in a sustainable food and farming future.