- LONDON (Reuters) - Britain
should stop treating people like laboratory animals and start producing
more natural organic food products that are safer and healthier, a report
said on Monday.
- The report by the Soil Association, which campaigns for
organic agriculture, rejected claims by some food experts that organic
food was no better for the public than most of the products found on supermarket
- It said organically produced fruit, vegetables, meat
and crops had steered clear of a raft of British food scares, including
mad cow disease, and was a healthier option that shunned additives and
- ``It is almost as if consumers have become laboratory
animals in the huge experiment that is industrialized agriculture, storing
up untold health problems for the future,'' Patrick Holden, director of
the association, said in the report.
- ``On average we found that organic crops are not only
higher in vitamin C and essential minerals, but also higher in phytonutrients
-- compounds which protect plants from pests and disease and are often
beneficial in the treatment of cancer.''
- The report, based on 400 published papers comparing organic
with non-organic food, said more research was needed but the evidence suggested
widespread organic crop cultivation could boost the public's health and
- FOOD SCARES
- UK consumers have been shaken by a series of food scares,
including E-coli, salmonella and mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform
encephalopathy (BSE), which has spread from Britain to other parts of Europe.
- The government has also started looking at alternatives
to post-World War Two intensive farming methods, which are also blamed
for the UK's latest foot-and-mouth disease epidemic.
- But organic farming has been questioned, with the head
of the Food Standards Agency, the UK's food safety watchdog, saying last
year that there was not enough evidence to support claims that organic
food was better for the public.
- The Soil Association said its report had now redressed
- ``This report contradicts Sir John Krebs of the Food
Standards Agency, who said last year that there was not enough information
available to be able to say that organic food is nutritionally different
from non-organic food,'' Holden said.
- It also said intensive farming methods had drained the
goodness out of everyday produce like fruit and vegetables.
- Other food experts agreed with the report and demanded
the government invest more in organic production and research.
- ``Eating organic is neither a fad nor a luxury,'' Patrick
Holford, founder of the Institute for Optimum Nutrition, said.
- ``This comprehensive scientific assessment shows that
it is a necessity.''