Organics under fire

It has not been a good week for the organic movement. A scientific study has revealed that there are no nutritional benefits to eating organic over conventional products - a key perception among organic-purchasing UK consumers.

The organic lobby has always made far more noise than its level of demand, or ability to produce for that matter, warrant.It is a small, niche, premium sector, yet it regularly dominates the headlines - often to the detriment of more conventional products. Partly this is down to the blind unquestioning endorsement of some in the consumer press, but the organic movement has stoked those fires and allowed many a half-truth to dominate the agenda.

I personally would have a lot more sympathy for the movement's current situation if it had ever attempted to market itself on a positive footing, rather than simply attempting to knock conventional production from a somewhat holier-than-thou perspective.

The lack of knowledge about production methods is astounding, especially when it comes to organics. I've lost track of the amount of times I've heard a consumer say, "It's got to be better, they don't spray" in the last few weeks - copper sulphate anyone? And let's not even mention the pleas to allow a certain amount of GM tolerance into organic feed...

Don't get me wrong: there is a place for organic food in the market - it fulfils a consumer demand and provides choice. But please, let's not pretend it's the holy grail.

I would much rather see everyone, organic and conventional, invest greater effort into sustainable, ethical production and less time spent trying to score points.