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May 15, 2006

Organic Meat Scam

Writing about web page http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,200-2181206,00.html

Re: Front page article - Times 15.5.2006
link

Worryingly apparently Trading Standards have been alerted to cases of non–organic meats being illegally sold as organic. A problem that was bound to occur you might think when the same piece of meat is worth 2 or 3 times as much with an organic label on it and with a market for Organic produce that is currently worth £1.2Billion in the UK and is rising by 12% per year.. As a result of some recent cases enforcement agencies are to begin a nation wide enquiry at butchers shops and farmers markets across the country.

Unfortunately the problem is this…..... for the produce to be labelled as organic the farmer/ producer must become a member of "the Soil Association" also to sell organic produce you must be a member of the soil association. Who are the Soil Association you ask? You might presume that they are a branch of DEFRA or Trading standards… some kind of government funded regulatory body. link Infact they are an NGO (non government organisation) a registered charity and more significantly a business and not one that conducts any research or has any scientific credibility; they do however have the ear of a sensationalist media. So the Organic Meat Scam is for the most part a result of certain growers or sellers growing or selling produce that is technically organic but failing to pay their annual soil association membership fees of nearly £1000 to do so.
A quote in the article from David Pickering of the Trading Standards Institute remarks "the problem is that when meat is sold unwrapped it is extremely difficult to see any physical difference between organic and conventional meat." The obvious point being David that there is no obvious difference between organic and regular meat, assuming that they are the same species/ variety the product is exactly the same and simply the production method is different. To suggest that organic food taste better is I'm afriad the best marketing ploy since chocolate cigarettes for children, to suggest to the public that your product is better than another is ok but surely lying about it should be illegal?

To quote a subdivision of their website called whyorganic.org on 10 reasons to eat organic:
"1. It's healthy. On average, organic food contains higher levels of vitamin C and essential minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron and chromium as well as cancer–fighting antioxidants." Can I ask – did the fairies put it there or did I miss something during my cell biology lectures?

As a biologist and a farmers son – I can honestly say the combination of ignorance and lies with respect to first the popular media and then the soil association makes me sick.

MattW


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