Organic sector lobbyists plead for more cash
By Isabel Davies
THE Soil Association is calling on the government to find more funds for the organic sector following the release of a report which claims organic farms support much higher levels of plant and wildlife species than conventional farms.
The report, The Biodiversity Benefits of Organic Farming, found that organic farms support substantially higher numbers of birds, plants and insects than conventional farms. It found organic farms had five times as many wild plants, 57% more species and 25% more birds at the field edge.
The conclusions were drawn by combining the findings of nine independent research studies carried out in the UK and Denmark over the past 13 years.
Soil Association director Patrick Holden said the report showed that the old government policy of creating nature reserves to mitigate the "damage" done by intensive farming was not enough.
"This report shows that organic farming supports greater numbers of species throughout the entire farm and will reverse the decline in biodiversity if the amount under organic management is increased."
There was enough evidence to suggest government policy must change, he said.
The view was echoed by English Nature which has also produced a report on organic farming.
Chairman Baroness Young of Scone said an increase in organic farming would help reverse the loss of wildlife from our countryside.
"UK consumers have demonstrated that they wish to buy organic food but at present most organic food is imported," she said. "Imported food does not help either British wildlife or British farmers. By increasing our organic production we can benefit both our own wildlife and our beleaguered farming community. We must have the political will and government support to enable farmers who wish to convert to do so." *