EurActiv - Letters to the Editor


Regarding ‘Organic farmers look to R&D to boost yields, save planet‘:

We support products branded organic as a market choice by supplying the pesticides used in their production. However, we feel it is necessary to dispel the myths and false perceptions that surround organic in its opposition to the scientific agricultural practices which are vitally important to the maintenance of a nutritious affordable diet that is safe and environmentally sound.

It seems bizarre to have to remind people that organic food production was the norm for about 8000 years and that the technologically advanced agriculture that now feeds the world is a post-war development. It is necessary to do this because that is how disconnected we have become from agricultural reality. This relative ignorance is a fertile breeding ground for myth.

Our agricultural achievement is the result of technological advances and new management techniques that have made it possible to feed 6.7 billion hungry mouths, if somewhat disproportionately. If we enjoy a steady, year-round supply of fresh produce at affordable prices, it is thanks to agriculture that is far from “organic”.

Today’s farmers are professionals who used a host of techniques, including the safe use of pesticides. The level of management skill that goes into modern farming would challenge any CEO and is not the least bit romantic, especially when it comes to fighting plant disease.

Rothamsted Research and the University of Edinburgh have recently concluded that “current public support for organic production seems based on lack of knowledge of the toxicology of natural food chemicals, incorrect perceptions of current farming procedures and an unsustainable belief that nature knows best”.

Further, we must be concerned by the willingness of the organic industry to make a number of misleading claims about organic food production. Before paying a premium to buy organic food consumers should be aware that:

  • Organic farmers make regular use of a number pesticides;
  • no scientific evidence shows organic food could be any more nutritious than regular produce;
  • organic farmers use antibiotics in livestock production when necessary. Only a small percentage of the feed given to organic livestock is produced organically;
  • organic food products have a large carbon footprint and more energy is required for refrigeration because they perish very quickly, and;
  • a major recent research project shows that organics are no more nutritious than food coming from more advanced agricultural techniques. The study proves that the 98% of the food produced by advanced farming is as nutritious as the less than 2% derived from the organic market.

The most important consideration for the entire population is to have access to enough affordable, high quality food – especially fresh fruit and vegetables.

Phil Newton

European Crop Protection Association (ECPA)

Author :


  1. …And while you’re reading about the “organic illusion,” it might be equally interesting to read about the current misinformation campaign which is being waged against organic farming by pesticide companies and their lobbying organisations, research centres, etc… Come on, Phil, let’s use science as a basis for learnign about the world we live in rather than a false pretense to protect profits!

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