UK environment minister, David Miliband, has angered organic farmers in the North after claiming that organic produce is no better than mass-produced food.
Miliband claims that food grown with the use of pesticides and other chemicals should not be seen as second-best, adding that the choice for organic foods is simply a “lifestyle choice”.
“It’s only 4% of total farm produce, not 40%, and I would not want to say that 96% of our farm produce is inferior because it’s not organic.”
Milibands views have outraged some of the region’s most respected producers.
Colin Anderson, a Bellingham organic livestock farmer, is challenging Miliband to visit him and experience the difference for himself: “Organic farming reduces exposure to chemicals used in sprays and fertilisersâ€¦animals are reared humanely, allowed to forage in natural pastures and no chemicals, pesticides or GM are usedâ€¦We don’t want to put other farmers downâ€¦we are proud of what we do and what we produce.”
Ian Sutherland, organic farmer at Rock Midstead, accuses Miliband of “huge generalisation” on green produce.
NFU county chairman for Northumberland and organic farmer, Carron Craighead, said: “We stand by the quality of our produce, but organic farming is still a niche market and there’s no conflict with conventional farmers. Miliband needs to justify his comments with facts.”