Thursday, October 05, 2006

Organic food standards at risk... the demand for organic food grows and becomes more mainstream. Supermarkets are being accused of putting pressure on organic farmers to cut corners and lower standards and become more "efficient." Organic farming pioneer Lawrence Woodward said examples of "lowering standards" were the large numbers of "derogations", or get-out clauses, allowing farmers to be awarded organic licences even though they do not meet the correct standards. These include the use of conventional feed for poultry, the continued practice of slicing the beaks off chickens to prevent them mutilating each other, and the sale of organic chicken from flocks of 2,000 and more, even though the association recommendation is 500, reports today's Guardian. The Soil Association has confirmed the increase in lobbying by large supermarkets to lower standards. Many people I've spoken to have often said they do not trust the organic labels on supermarket products and feel that shops dedicated to selling only organic are more reliable. Here in Amsterdam we have a farmer's market on a Saturday at the Noordermarkt where it is possible to buy direct from the farmer. For the average consumer trust is a big issue and so it is vital to make sure that organic standards are kept. This particular case involves salmon farming but the principle applies to all foods. BSE was one of the main reasons why many people became vegetarian or decided to go organic and that crisis was a matter of trust and loss of faith. This is not the time to compromise basic principles just for profit.

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