The disadvantages of organic agriculture
Unfortunately, at the moment retailers are charging artificially high prices. I was in the supermarket last week which is a rare occurrence as I shop locally where possible, and I nearly died when I saw the prices being charged for organic yogurt and eggs compared to the non-organic brands.
I understand that we have to pay more for organic produce because there are more crop failures due to the fact that the farmers cannot use pesticides, but what is an acceptable percentage and does this vary from product to product. Should organic fish be 10 percent more expensive than non organic fish and vegetables 20 per cent etc? If we have to pay more for crop failures how does this work with processed food that uses less fresh ingredients and higher volumes? Should we still have to pay a premium or are they just jumping on the band wagon and making us pay higher prices?
At the moment most organic items are too highly priced to be affordable to most people. Furthermore, many argue that there is not enough evidence that supports the benefits of eating organic food to warrant the additional cost. For example its difficult to quantify; can organic potatoes be 10% better for us, should we then pay an extra 10% on the price? or are we paying for a lifestyle choice? Is this not the same as any branded clothes, toiletries, cars? We could buy cheaper clothes, toiletires or cars as they all do the same as dearer branded ones yet we choose them because it makes us feel better and due to peer pressure and advertising.
Organic Food Safety and Benefits
There is evidence that organic farms are more sustainable and environmentally sound, among other benefits. These claims, however, are subject to dispute and are not settled among scientists.
Another contentious issue surrounding organic produce is the fact that nearly 70 per cent of produce sold in UK supermarkets is imported, generating thousands of food miles to get to its destination and causing damage to the environment.
Often organic food produced in England is sent from one side of the country to the distribution warehouse at the other side, only to be sent back again to the Supermarket. One supermarket has been run a pilot where the farmer and his tractor deliver the organic produce to the supermarket direct. Now that is progress!
Non organic food does contain pesticides of varying amount. Many toxicologists and scientists consider the amount to be so low as to have no effect on the consumer. For example, have you fallen ill the past due to the chemicals in your food? I doubt it! Only those that have an allergic reaction or eat vast quantities of the same food may do so. Food is not allowed to be sold by law that is unsafe.
In todays society, it is virtually impossible to grow produce pestivide free and even organically grown foods do not claim to be completely free of chemical residues. Presticides are carried in the air and rivers. Non GM crops around the world have been found to contain Genetically Modified seedlings as these have been carried in the air from GM farms miles away.
Organic food has sold out
Organic food began as a small movement decades ago with gardeners and farmers rejecting the use of conventional non organic practices. With the growth of the Organic food market now outpacing much of the food industry many big companies have moved into this market. With these large often multi national companies, and with the creation of a legal certification framework such as the Soil Assocaiton, there is worry that the very definition of organic food will change from what it used to be and become just another mass produced brand which will over time be replaced by another emerging sector.