Letter: Common sense on organics

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The Independent Online
I DID not find the same emphasis concerning organic agriculture that you seemed to in the Government's response to the select committee report from the House of Lords on genetic modification ("Action on GM peril to organics", 28 March). In fact, the Government notes with interest the report's view that genetic modification offers benefits to organic systems. It notes that this is not a perception shared by the organic movement and that European legislation to that effect has the support of member states in the EU. That sounds to me like the Government stating the facts rather than expressing an opinion.

Organic organisations in this country have no monopoly on wisdom. The fact that last year they could lobby successfully for the inclusion in organic standards of the use of sodium nitrite in curing bacon shows their own lack of perspective, and a failure to consult the public.

Last autumn, I wrote to the Joint Food Safety and Standards Group (MAFF and DoH) expressing my concern that some organisations were tying the fate of organic food production in this country to that of genetically modified crops. The link is tenuous and illogical. It centres as yet on really only one crop, maize, and even the organic standards themselves are not precise enough to identify potential cross-pollination as the problem. The same consideration is unlikely to apply to many other crops. Nevertheless, the Government recommends that a modus vivendi be found whereby the perceived safeguards for organic producers are incorporated into trails for genetically modified crops. That sounds like common sense on the part of the Government faced with opposing views.

MARK FISHER

Baildon, W Yorks

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