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Letter: Organic toxins

Sir: John Sutherland-Smith (letter, 14 June) says "organic" food is safe because some of his great-grandpappy's generation lived to a ripe old age. So do some heavy smokers. Diagnosing causes of death in the heyday of "organic" food was a chancy business.

To suppose that food laced with contaminating fungi caused no problems and induced no cancers doesn't bear examination. The safety of "organic" methods has never been tested. The development of intensive farming with its reliance on proven, safe chemical control of fungal pests in the last 50 years has seen life expectancy increase by some five to six years to its probable biological maximum.

If Mr Sutherland-Smith wishes to take the risk of eating mycotoxins (such as the potent carcinogen, aflotoxin) or heightened carcinogens in crops, because organic farmers have an ideological problem with applying effective fungicides, that is his choice. However, Greenpeace seems bent on denying me my choice of safer food products in its attempt to push us all into eating what is mistermed "organic".

Of organic, intensively farmed and GM food, the first has the greatest risk.


Institute of Cell and Molecular Biology

University of Edinburgh