FSA chief exec backs organic report

The chief executive of the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has written an open letter emphasising the organisation’s backing of the recent report on organic food.

Tim Smith has described the independent report by the London School of Hygiene as “the most scientifically rigorous and independent review of research ever carried out in this area” and gave reasons why the subject of pesticides was omitted from the study.

He said: “Pesticides were specifically excluded from the scope of this work. This is because our position on the safety of pesticides is already clear: pesticides are rigorously assessed and residue is closely monitored. Because of this, the use of pesticides in either organic or conventional food production does not pose an unacceptable risk to human health and helps to ensure a plentiful supply of food all year round.”

The report concluded there were no important differences in the nutrition content, or any additional health benefits, of organic food when compared with conventionally produced food. The study was played down by the Soil Association as it was claimed to reject almost all of the existing studies of comparisons between organic and non-organic nutritional differences, due to not meeting particular criteria.

“The important message from this report is not that people should avoid organic food but that they should eat a healthy balanced diet and, in terms of nutrition, it doesn’t matter if this is made up of organic or conventionally produced food,” added Smith.