Does organic production offer solutions?
The banning of antibiotic feed additives to enhance
growth and feed conversion in the EU during the declining years of the past
century was not based on sound science. Satisfying voluble advocacy groups may
have been politically expedient but the blanket action of legislators in this
instance has raised production costs without evident benefit to consumers.
By Simon Shane
The importance of organic food products in the USA is illustrated by retail
sales of $11 billion in 2005. This year the Institute of Food Technology will
arrange a special 'Organic Pavilion' at their annual Food Expo to showcase new
products and presentations. The free enterprise system allows entrepreneurs to
predict and identify consumer trends and to satisfy their needs with appropriate
products. Regulatory authorities have the obligation to set and monitor
standards of quality and to ensure compliance with product descriptions.
The banning of antibiotic feed additives to enhance growth and feed
conversion in the EU during the declining years of the past century was not
based on sound science. Satisfying voluble advocacy groups may have been
politically expedient but the blanket action of legislators in this instance has
raised production costs without evident benefit to consumers. The emergence of
drug resistance was adequate justification for withdrawal of some compounds but
bacitracin and possibly virginiamycin, which have specific benefits in
suppressing Gram positive intestinal pathogens have no direct analogues in human
Consumers who demand products from herds and flocks fed
without antibiotic additives, animal-source protein, GMO-grains or under
non-confined conditions should be able to purchase certified organic products
and pay accordingly. Accordingly, the bulk of unconcerned purchasers who do not
regard ethical considerations or unproven risks as important should also be free
to purchase wholesome products which have been subjected to government
inspection to ensure freedom from pathogens and toxic residues. The only
stipulation is that labels should accurately reflect the ingredient content and
characteristics of products with appropriate disclosure. Activists with diverse
agendas including drug residues, welfare and the vegan lifestyle should not be
allowed to impose their inclinations on the intensive animal industry. In the
absence of credible scientific justification, consumers should not be deprived
of the benefits accruing from availability of nutritious and economical
Organic production has come of age. There are clear
distinctions among 'organic' 'natural' and 'conventional' eggs and poultry meat.
These products are available on the shelves of our supermarkets. Let consumers
select according to their inclinations and pay accordingly. As for the Industry,
decisions relating to production systems, nutritional programs and presentation
should be based on optimizing resources within the confines of governmental
control over safety and freedom from scientifically determined risk.
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