Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Voice of agribusiness attacks organic

Blow to better quality food
and drink in biased report

Ever since it was founded, the Food Standards Agency has been an outspoken critic of organic farming and the food and drink it creates. The FSA is clearly biased in favour of agribusiness, whose activities in Mexico are directly responsible for swine flu.
Today's "independent" [sic] report produced for the FSA finds there is no greater nutritional value in organic food than conventional food. This is risible. The report beggars belief as it excludes from its findings the use of pesticides, fertilisers and other agro-chemicals and yet it's the use of these cancer-causing chemicals that is the major cause for concern among organic farmers and consumers.
Remember the famous Sainsbury's lettuce that had been washed 16 times and yet still contained traces of chemicals? A few years ago, the head brewer at Hardy's & Hansons brewery in Nottingham said that even after washing and cleaning he still found chemical traces in his hops. He had stopped buying English hops and had switched to American suppliers. That was a loss to English famers and the British economy.
The use of chemical sprays is not only bad for consumers but also harmful to the environment. Research has shown that spraying hops kills predators such as ladybirds that attack spiders and other pests that damage hops. If untreated grass is allowed to grow at the foot of hop bines, predators will settle there and feed on spider mites and other pests.
For me, there's a subjective attitude in this. Some years ago, a close friend of mine in the brewing industry stopped his car to check under the bonnet. He was alongside a field that was being sprayed with chemicals from a crop-spraying plane. The plane passed over my friend and drenched him in chemicals. He died some years later after a long struggle with cancer.
On a more objective note, I trust this absurd report from the FSA will not stop the growing number of organic beers being produced in Britain. They are good for the countryside and good for drinkers.


Anonymous Sam said...

Did you even bother to read the report? It clearly states how it chose papers and explicilty states that it was not looking at pesticides/contaminants or environmental impact of farming methods. It was only looking at nutrient content, and said there was no significant difference. Not once did you mention nutrients in your post, you only complained about what the review didn't discuss but that was said to be out of scope. By being so completely oblivious about the facts and then ranting, you do organics a disservice as it makes you (and by association other organic supports) appear to be as propagandist as the big Agra companies and that neither side cares about actually talking about the truth. This means you loose my, the consumers, trust too. There should be a comprehensive review of the literature on contaminants and environmental impact. I would be surprised if they didn't fall in on the side of organic (environmental may be close), but then you'd have a case based on fact. Please do not deride a well done review that was meant to answer one piece of a complex puzzle.

30 July 2009 at 19:15  
Anonymous Chris R said...

Great news! let's toast this news with a nice tall glass of pesticide.

I wonder who paid for this study?

30 July 2009 at 22:19  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ill-informed claptrap.

31 July 2009 at 20:03  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Ever since it was founded, the Food Standards Agency has been an outspoken critic of organic farming and the food and drink it creates. "

Let's get this straight: The FSA has been AN OUTSPOKEN CRITIC OF CLAIMS UNSUBSTANTIATED BY EVIDENCE that the organic lobby spouts.

That's not the same thing.

31 July 2009 at 20:17  
Blogger Roger Protz said...

Dear Anonymous,
Sorry to disturb your reading of the Daily Torygraph...

1 August 2009 at 12:33  
Blogger Roger Protz said...

How can you possibly have an intelligent discussion about organic farming without taking agri-chemicals into account? As there's a massive EU report on organics about to be published I can only think the FSA Report is a spoiler.

1 August 2009 at 12:36  
Blogger Johnny Norfolk said...

I think you are spot on Roger. The repot is a disgrace as in anything produced under this labour government.

1 August 2009 at 14:30  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Roger, guess what, this isn't about politics, it's about evidence, it's about science. Your political obsessions are getting in the way as usual.

1 August 2009 at 15:22  
Anonymous Sam said...

    Because Roger scientific reviews are not discussions(they are not like blogs), they are, as their names imply, reviews of studies on a particular subject...whether it be nurtional content of organic food, mating practices of the Bulgarian spotted moth, or genes conferring antibiotic resistance in E. coli.  These subjects may appear to be narrow to outsiders but the majority of science is a about putting together many small discoveries to understand the bigger picture, not eureka moments that explain everything.  This review is a small piece in understanding the value of organic foods, and while you seem ready to disregard it, a major claim by many organic food suppliers is that their product is nutritionally better (higher vitamins, etc).  Are you arguing that organics should be allowed to make false claims because in the end they are better due to the lower pesticide content?  it seems you are arguing that the ends justify the means.  As an American, I have heard these arguements before, and am tired of them.  I want the whole story, not just the parts that make you look good.  I want transparency in all things.  Scientific reviews give you the pieces you need to tell the whole story.  Obviously this story is still missing pieces in pesticides, environmental impact, animal care, etc.  There is no reason why the organic industry (which is now a billion dollar business) can not make sure the remaining reviews of the data are done so that we can have a complete, informed discussion at the policy/consumer level. I agree that if this review were all that the organic discussion would be based on that it would be travesty.  I don't believe that will be the case as there is research being done in the other areas and the entire story will be told, but you discounting this review because it doesn't align with your story about organics is Bush-esk and makes you appear like you do not want the whole truth told. It makes you look opportunistic and untrustworthy.  I would like to expect more from the bloggers I read.

2 August 2009 at 19:55  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

10 August 2009 at 16:55  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

10 August 2009 at 16:56  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

10 August 2009 at 16:58  
Anonymous Neutral Observer said...

The ad hom. about the Telegraph was cheap. You expect that sort of thing from student union politicians.

Weird that Roger man-of-the-people Protz is so keen to defend the expensive food purchasing habits of the gullible bourgeois.

14 August 2009 at 18:28  

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