Business owners hit back as report casts doubt on organic food benefits
Organic businesses in Birmingham have criticised the authors of a report which has said the produce is little better than conventional foods.
The owners of a cafe and a greengrocer’s said the findings commissioned by the Food Standards Agency undermined business for them during a recession and were flawed.
A team of researchers at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine reviewed all papers published over the last 50 years relating to nutrient content and health differences between the two kinds of produce.
Organic farming, which focuses on protecting wildlife and the environment, means no artificial chemical fertilisers are used, pesticide use is restricted and animals are expected to be free range.
Simon Dunmore, who runs The Grocer, in Templefield Square, Edgbaston, said he had had a 50 per cent drop in organic sales since people became more price-conscious.
“Something like this report is not good on top of that,” he said. “It could destroy the industry. The claims are absolute rubbish. I can’t believe they’ve said it.
“We really have messed with the food chain that much. Every day there are diseases coming to light that weren’t around years ago when a different kind of farming was in practice.”
Eamonn Murphy used to run an organic bakery in Digbeth and now owns Manic Organic, in Poplar Road, Kings Heath.
He said the conclusion favoured multi-nationals but people knew better. “Educated people eat organic food. Why? Because they have done their homework,” he said.
Organic food has become popular in recent years, with supermarkets offering organic options on many items. But the paper reporting the results of the review of nutritional differences – published yesterday by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition - appears to cast doubt on the potential benefits to people’s health from the method.
Principal author Dr Alan Dangour, of the LSHTM’s nutrition and public health intervention research unit, said: “A small number of differences in nutrient content were found to exist between organically and conventionally-produced crops and livestock, but these are unlikely to be of any public health relevance.
“Our review indicates that there is currently no evidence to support the selection of organically-produced foods over conventionally-produced foods on the basis of nutritional superiority.”