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Organic IS better, says pounds 12m study; Four-year EU project finds major nutrients advantage.

Byline: By MARK BRITTAIN

ORGANIC food really is better for you, early results of a unique, pounds 12m, four-year study indicate.

The EU-funded Quality Low Input Food (QLIF) report, some of which has been released this week, shows organic fruit and vegetables contain some 40% more antioxidants (believed to cut the risk of heart disease and cancer) compared to non-organic foodstuffs. There were also higher levels of other beneficial minerals such as iron and zinc.

The QLIF project under the leadership of Professor Carlo Leifert of Newcastle University aims to improve quality, safety and reduction of cost in the EU organic and "low input" food supply chains.

The latest findings underpin the founding philosophy and practices of the organic movement which seeks to build positive health in crops and livestock and thus of people eating that produce, said Patrick Holden, Soil Association director.

"On a far larger-scale, with much greater resources and more precise, modern analytical methods, this project builds on what our founder Lady Eve Balfour sought to do on just 200-acres and with a shoe-string budget back in 1939.

"The proponents of industrial, chemical-intensive agriculture dismissed her theories and findings then on the basis of the limited scale and location of the experiment. But today's growing body of evidence backing her instincts and practical observations comes from dozens of independent scientists from around the world.

"The Soil Association agrees with Professor Leifert that 'there is now enough evidence that the level of good things is higher in organics.' Therefore we challenge the Food Standards Agency (FSA) to now recognise and publicly acknowledge the nutritional benefits of organic food."

The FSA has been reluctant to date to reflect the available science in its public statements about organic food and farming.

In 2000, former FSA chair Sir John Krebs was quoted on the BBC Country file programme questioning the value for money of organic food for consumers.

The Soil Association challenged Krebs' and the FSA's stance and in 2004 won a major retraction when the FSA's own review reported that "the vast majority" of people consulted felt the Agency had "deviated from its normal stance of making statements based solely on scientific evidence" when "speaking against organic food and for GM food."

farming@dailypost.co.uk

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Actress Samia Smith (formerley Samia Ghadi) appears in a campaign promoting organic vegetables
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Nov 1, 2007
Words:391
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