I see in the Guardian that Michael Meacher is furious with the FSA and Sir John Krebs for failing to do as promised and carry out some proper research into whether organic food has nutritional or safety benefits over traditionally-produced food.
Didn't I read on warmwell somewhere that John Krebs' appointment to the chair of the FSA raised many eyebrows at the time of the FSA's inception? Was I wrong to infer that he was the chosen one because he would put no spoke in the juggernaut progress of GM?
Michael Meacher is supposed to be boosting the UK's organic production from 30% of existing demand to 70% by 2010. If he thinks he's going to get the backing of the FSA for this he is surely naive?
If I were really a conspiracy theorist (and heaven forfend) I would see that the FSA exists solely to oversee the demise of the traditional livestock farming (fear of TSE's etc) and to spread contempt for the idea of organic food - in order to pave the way for dependence on GM crops. Not only are there mega bucks to be made - but also political control over food production. The last thing a centralised government wants is self sufficiency.
In today's Guardian there is a very waspish retort from Sir John and a serious letter from Andrew George. I enclose both:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------More anguish over food
Tuesday May 27, 2003 The Guardian
In your leader (May 24) and report (Meacher rages at inaction on organic food, May 23), you failed to point out that the food standards agency is an independent non-ministerial government department and that I do not take instructions from ministers.
The agency was set up in the wake of the BSE crisis to separate consumer and industry interests. We have no vested interests other than those of consumers. Nor do we have any remit to promote agricultural production, organic or conventional. Our purpose is to protect public health and the interests of consumers in relation to food.
Organic food is an important addition to consumer choice, but no independent scientific evaluation has ever shown that it is any healthier. If we were to relinquish our independence and the scientific evidence on this and other issues, where would consumer safeguards remain?
You say that we have been accused of bias in supporting GM crops. The fact is that we do not have policy responsibility for GM crops, nor have we ever supported their commercialisation or use in food.
Our statement that the regulatory system provides assurance that approved GM crops are as safe as their conventional counterparts is not based on bias. It is based on thorough scientific assessment by an independent panel including scientific experts and consumers.
You also suggest that we have failed to take tough action on chicken pumped full of water. The truth is that we were the first to uncover the scam and develop the tests to detect hidden beef or pork protein. As a result of our joint action with local authorities, 20 enforcement actions in the UK are under consideration and there have been four prosecutions in Holland. We will look at recent evidence to see what more should be done.
Chairman, Food standards agency
7 It is disturbing that the food standards agency appears so uninterested in offering consumers advice on organically produced food.
I suppose we should feel reassured that the correspondence between the environment minister, Michael Meacher, and John Krebs of the FSA demonstrates that an arm's length government agency is not always in the pocket of government ministers.
However, following evidence from last week's Panorama programme that the FSA appears to be oblivious of the extent of seriously adulterated food coming into the country, the response of Professor Krebs appears strangely minimal and grudging to the point of being irresponsibly unhelpful and partisan.
Andrew George MP
Lib Dem food and rural affairs spokesman