UK Attacked for Not Backing Organic

UK - The Soil Association, the UK's organic farming body, has called on the British government to wake up to what Europe can teach the UK about backing organic food and farming.
calendar icon 2 March 2011
clock icon 3 minute read

In a report, 'The Lazy Man of Europe', presented at the association's annual meeting in February, the Soil Association said that the UK is falling behind the rest of Europe in organic food and farming.

The association said that the global production of organic food is set to grow substantially, with the organic market frequently cited as one of the most significant growth markets in the food industry.

In Austria, Denmark, France, Germany and Switzerland sales of organic food continued to grow in 2009, despite the recession.

In the UK, sales fell, although they are now recovering.

The association said that a range of factors may explain the recent decline of the UK organic market compared to our European neighbours, but the passive role of successive UK governments in supporting organic food and farming is one of the reasons commonly given.

The aim of the report is two-fold: to demonstrate how and why governments across Europe are supporting organic food and farming; and to launch a discussion to consider what the UK government and the organic movement could and should be doing to support organic growth.

"We have found that most European countries have acted confidently to normalise and champion organic food and farming as a pioneering, sustainable and environmentally friendly way to produce food," the association said.

"In contrast, UK governments have been diffident, if not lazy on the subject. When it comes to thinking in a truly sustainable way about the future of food and farming, successive UK governments have preferred to sit back and snooze.

"The new Coalition Government has taken some tentative, positive steps, such as cancelling the last Government's publicly-funded, pro-GM propaganda consultation, to have been carried out by the Food Standards Agency.

"The new Agriculture Minister, Jim Paice, has said recently that organic principles lead the way on sustainable farming, and that organic farming should be fostered for this reason.

"As this report shows, other leading European governments are doing far more than ours to advance organic food and farming. Most of these initiatives involve shifts in policies and priorities, not new funding. The recommendations listed below, all implemented by our European neighbours, provide our Government with a list of the actions needed to deliver on the Coalition's pledge – 'to be the greenest government ever'."

Further Reading

- You can view the full report by clicking here.
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