Select Committee on Agriculture Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by Mr John Whetman (F 3)

  I am delighted to hear that there is to be an investigation into this aspect of farming and growing, for it is long overdue. I have no direct interest in the matter, as we do not grow or sell organic produce, so my opinions are not prejudiced.

  It is time the criteria by which organic growing is judged. At present they are not scientific, they are arbitrary, and they are illogical. For instance certain insecticides, fungicides and fertilisers are approved, some of which are potentially quite dangerous to both growers and consumers, whilst other which could be highly beneficial, are banned. To anyone with any basic knowledge of crop husbandry they are a nonsense. Added to this nonsense is the fact that different supervisory bodies have different standards, and some 85 per cent of the produce consumed is imported from countries with even more dubious standards and very little supervision.

  The result is that the consumer is being deceived. Organic food is perceived as being better than ordinary food. It is not. It is perceived as being safer. It is not. It is perceived as being more healthy. It is not. It is perceived as having more flavour—it is all in the mind!

  On the foundation of these unsound criteria a whole industry has been created, the public has been fooled into paying too much for its food, and become neurotic about its quality.

12 May 2000

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