Organic farmers reject criticism of sector


ORGANIC PRODUCERS have reacted angrily to criticism of the sector by the director of UCD’s Institute of Food and Health, Prof Mike Gibney.

On Friday, Prof Gibney told the Agricultural Science Association conference the credibility of the organic movement would go down the drain if producers continued to make health claims that did not stand up.

He said independent reviews of scientific literature had consistently refuted the claims of the organic movement around nutrition and health but the movement continued “to cherry-pick” from studies that suited them.

Gavin Lynch of the Organic Trust said it was “more than a little contradictory” that Prof Gibney accused advocates of organic food of cherry-picking research when he himself was guilty of doing just that.

He said three recent studies showed organic food to have significantly higher proportions of some key nutrients.

“He also seems quite happy to ignore the large body of evidence highlighting the negative effects of pesticides on both human and environmental health,” Mr Lynch said.

“Aside from the massive issues of biodiversity loss and cumulative effects on human health through consumption of food, I’m sure the three million people a year who the WHO estimates are hospitalised due to pesticide poisoning would consider the organic option to be somewhat healthier.”

Prof Gibney had also predicted that the health and nutrition claims about organic food would be referred to the European Food Safety Authority , where they were likely to be rejected.

Mr Lynch said the organic sector was already strongly regulated by the EFSA.

“If Mr Gibney is aware of any instance of false claims being made in relation to organic products, then he should absolutely refer these to both the FSAI and the EFSA,” he said.