The use of celebrities to promote organic food as a healthier option to conventionally produced food has been questioned by the Crop Protection Association, an industry body that defends the use of agro-chemicals.
Anne Buckenham, director of policy at the CPA, has called for more emphasis to be placed on the science rather than the opinion of celebrities paid to promote one system over another.
In a letter to last weekend’s Sunday Telegraph (3 September) Dr Buckenham expressed alarm at an article that suggested the public was more willing to trust celebrities than scientists over issues of food safety and quality.
“It is surely pushing the cult of the celebrity to the point of absurdity when the personal opinions of just one individual – in this case Donna Air, the new face of the Soil Association – can outweigh the science-based evidence provided by expert and impartial institutions such as the Food Standards Agency and the Pesticide Residues Committee,” she wrote.
However, Simon Kerr from the National Institute of Agricultural Botany was not so concerned. “I don’t disagree with the use of celebrities, but the conventional movement shouldn’t feel the need to promote its safety credentials anyway.
“The FSA ensures the safety of all food,” he said.
The scientists’ comments came as the Soil Association’s Organic Fortnight started, with Ms Air, a former child television star, as the celebrity employed to promote the event, which runs until 17 September.
“I am delighted to be involved with the Soil Association and to create awareness about the importance of good food,” she said.
“Organic food is brilliant because it has no nasties, and it has more nutrients because it has been allowed to grow naturally. Good food is the next best thing after love to give to a child.”
To promote the event, a number of organic farms around the country will take part in Organic Experience Weekend (9-10 September). According to the Soil Association this year’s events include lunches, farm walks, tractor rides and treasure hunts.
More information is available at the SA’s website – www.soilassociation.org
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