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[SANET-MG] food agency hates organic
Food watchdog is 'biased against organic food', says its own review
By Geoffrey Lean, Environment Editor
03 April 2005 the independent
Britain's official food safety watchdog must review its controversial
policies on GM and organic goods, a wide-ranging official review of its
performance has concluded.
The review, carried out to mark the fifth anniversary of the founding of
the Food Standards Agency, makes it clear that its support for GM and
its attacks on organic produce has caused a widespread loss of
confidence in its judgement and independence.
This conclusion is all the more striking because the review - conducted
by Baroness (Brenda) Dean at the agency's invitation - is otherwise
notably sympathetic to the watchdog.
The review vindicates The Independent on Sunday, which has long been
critical of the agency's stance on both issues.
The FSA has been one of the most vigorous proponents of GM food -
overwhelmingly rejected by the British public - while concentrating its
fire on organic foods, whose sales are booming. It repeatedly refused
requests by ministers to back a drive across Government to promote
After interviews with 129 "stakeholders" - including government
ministers, MPs and members of the House of Lords, representatives of the
food industry and consumer and public health groups - the report
concludes that "the perception of the vast majority was that the agency
had deviated from its normal stance of making statements based solely on
scientific evidence, to giving the impression of speaking against
organic food and for GM food".
It backs calls for the official watchdog to "revisit both areas",
saying, "it is important that the agency addresses these consumer concerns."
Last night, Peter Melchett, policy director of the Soil Association,
said: "Finally, the bias of the agency has been exposed - and by its own
"Its promotion of GM foods failed to convince the public, while damaging
its own reputation, but its attacks on organic produce have been
constantly used by those with a commercial interest in trying to limit
this environmentally friendly farming. We look forward to the agency
reversing its outrageous and unscientific stance."
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