SIRC Media Watch Archive
Comment and Opinion – January 2001

Vested interests? The House of Commons Agriculture Committee has, at last, confirmed what many people, including the Chair of the Food Standards Agency, have been saying for some time. There is no evidence to support claims that organic food is any better for you than food produced by other means. In their they also note: "It is a common perception that organic means pesticide- and chemical-free but in fact it simply means farming without artificial pesticides: those produced from natural chemicals may be used. In the same way, there is a significant list of non-organic processing aids which may be used in manufacturing organic products and a tolerance level of five per cent non-organic ingredients in processed products labelled as organic … This is not to accuse the organic movement of misleading the public but it is perhaps true that the public has a perception of organic farming that is, at least partly, mythical. We believe it important that the claims can be tested and verified in order that consumers know what they are really buying." Such 'sensible' conclusions have, of course, upset campaign groups such as Friends of the Earth. Full story.

2001 – The year of new reason? It should be evident to readers of 'The Pick' column that an increasing resistance is developing to alarmist and sensational health warnings. A couple of years ago it was quite hard to track down and give voice to the small murmurs of discontent – those who wondered whether we were so devoid of real risks in our everyday lives that we felt some perverse need to invent spurious ones to keep alive a frisson of danger. Now, however, such views are entering the mainstream of comment and debate in British newspapers – a very welcome signal that rationality is not quite dead. Full story.