LORD WHITTY has warned that members of the organic farming lobby are treading on dangerous ground when they claim that conventional agriculture is damaging the environment.

“Sometimes the organic purists don‘t do a great service to the rest of farming,” the junior DEFRA minister said on Wed (Jan 19).

The minister was speaking at a conference organised by the Rural Economy and Land Use programme in Birmingham.

Lord Whitty said it was important to recognise that many conventional farmers worked hard to improve the environment. 

Failure to do so meant that farmers who made serious efforts to improve environmental performance but who fell short of organic status would not be rewarded for doing so.

“If we discourage that, and say that if you are not fully organic then you are bog standard production, then we are missing the trick of using markets and consumer driven forces to pull up the environmental performance of the rest of farming,” he said.