13 August 2001
Organic lobby slams ‘myth-makers’

By Isabel Davies

THE National Office of Animal Health and Scottish Crop Research Institute peddle myths about organic farming, according to a new report.

The study, by the Soil Association and campaigners Sustain, singles out a handful of organisations which is says are guilty of attacking the sector.

It says that claims damaging to the organic movement do not arrive in newspapers by chance, but are generated by groups with interests to defend.

NOAH, the trade body for the animal pharmaceutical industry, has members including Monsanto Europe and Novartis Animal Health, it says.

It adds that the director of SCRI is on the board of the BioIndustry Association, whose mission is “encouraging and promoting the biotechnology sector.”

The report, Organic Food and Farming: Myth and Reality, sets out to “counteract the myths spread by opponents of organic farming”.

It says that organic food is safer than non-organic food, better for the environment and a more sustainable option for the future.

Adrian Long, Soil Association head of communications, said the report aimed to provide the facts that proved the critics wrong.

“Many of our critics have a vested interest in trying to destroy the trust that the public rightly have in organic food,” he said.

Catherine Fookes, report author of Sustain, said: “People are increasingly confused by the claims and counter-claims made about organic food and farming.

“We wanted to clear up this confusion by looking at the evidence and coming up with the facts on organics.

“For instance, our research found that organic farming practices can reduce the risk of E.coli in food.

“Those critics who slam organic food for being high-risk and more likely to cause food poisoning are wrong.”

Alison Glennon, communications manager for NOAH, denied that the organisation peddled myths about organic farming.

The accusations stemmed from a complaint made to the Advertising Standards Authority about a Soil Association leaflet called Five Reasons to go Organic.

“The point we were making was a lot of the claims they were making were equally applicable to conventional farming,” she said.

“It wasnt a slight on organic farming.”

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