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One of the country’s most respected food critics has called on the Government to provide clearer information about organic food.
Egon Ronay said shops and producers were profiting from public confusion about the issues surrounding organic produce. He also questioned the way organic goods were marketed, stating there is no scientific proof they are healthier.
But The Soil Association has rejected the criticism, maintaining that studies have shown there are more nutrients in organically produced food.
This latest argument follows on from environment secretary, David Miliband’s comments last month that there were no proven health benefits in organic food and that non-organic food should not be seen as “second best”. He has since clarified his position saying that people, including himself, buy organic food for taste and environmental benefits.
However, Mr Ronay has accused Mr Miliband of further confusing the situation, saying people were buying organic food in the belief that it was a healthier alternative to conventionally produced food. He told the BBC, “The public has no clear idea what organic food is. We’re being conned and I think the minister ought to be pinned down and challenged to spell out in terms that the public can clearly understand what is organic food.”
Organic food sales in the UK increased by 30% to £1.6bn in 2006. The Soil Association said it has written to the environment secretary “outlining evidence coming from his own department” that organic produce was healthier.
Robin Maynard, of the Soil Association, told the BBC, “I have a great deal of respect for Egon Ronay because he has done an awful lot of good in promoting healthy, unprocessed seasonal food. But I think that he has got it wrong in his criticism of organic food.”
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