Food You Can Trust*218

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FOOD AS IT SHOULD BE
 

Soil Association Certification certify over 70% of organic food in the UK

ORGANIC PRINCIPLES FOR FOOD PRODUCTION

The Soil Association developed the world’s first organic standards in the 1960s. Standards are the rules that define how an organic product must be grown, farmed or made. The principles upon which the Soil Association’s organic standards are based are set out below. Organic takes a “whole system” approach to farming and food production – it recognises the close interrelationships between all parts of the production system, from the soil to the food on our fork. This comprehensive set of organic principles guides the Soil Association’s work and standards.

PLEASE NOTE: Claims which are based on the higher standards of the Soil Association are italicised and in bold and marked with the Soil Association organic symbol and they do not apply across all organic farming.

  1. To produce food of high quality and in sufficient quantity by the use of processes that do not harm the environment, human health, plant health or animal health and welfare

  2. To work within natural systems and cycles at all levels, from the soil to plants and animals

  3. To maintain the long-term fertility and biological activity of soils

  4. To treat livestock ethically, meeting their species- specific physiological and behavioural needs

  5. To respect regional, environmental, climatic and geographic differences and the appropriate practices that have evolved in response to them

  6. To maximise the use of renewable resources and recycling

  7. To design and manage organic systems which make the best use of natural resources and ecology to prevent the need for external inputs. Where this fails or where external inputs are required, the use of external inputs is limited to organic, natural or naturally-derived substances

  8. To limit the use of chemically synthesised inputs to situations where appropriate alternative management practices do not exist, or natural or organic inputs are not available, or where alternative inputs would contribute to unacceptable environmental impacts

  9. To exclude the use of soluble mineral fertilisers

  10. To foster biodiversity and protect sensitive

  11. habitats and landscape features

  12. To minimise pollution and waste

  13. To use preventative and precautionary measures and risk assessment when appropriate

  14. To exclude the use of GMOs and products produced from or by GMOs, with the exception of veterinary medicinal products

  15. To sustainably use products from fisheries

ORGANIC AGRICULTURE IS BASED ON 4 KEY PRINCIPLES

1. HEALTH

Organic Agriculture should sustain and enhance the health of soil, plant, animal, human and planet as one and indivisible.

2. CARE

Organic Agriculture should be managed in
a precautionary and responsible manner to protect the health and well-being of current and future generations and the environment.

3. ECOLOGY

Organic Agriculture should be based on living ecological systems and cycles, work with them, emulate them and help sustain them.

4. FAIRNESS

 

Organic Agriculture should build on relationships that ensure fairness with regard to the common environment and life opportunities.

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Weed killers can be detected in food including bread.*232 Their use is banned in organic farming*233 

PESTICIDES

One way to reduce your exposure to pesticides is to eat more organic food

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  • Organic farmers manage pests using natural methods*229

  • Organic farmers aim to control pests naturally*230

  • No herbicides (weedkillers) such as Glyphosate*231 are allowed in organic farming

  • Weedkillers can be detected in food including bread.*232 Their use is banned in organic farming*233

  • Choosing organic is an easy way to limit your exposure to pesticides, herbicides (weedkillers*234 and many additives and preservatives*235

  • Organic farmers aim to create a natural balance between plants and animals to prevents pests, so that they don’t need to rely on pesticides*236

  • Organic farmers aim to use natural enemies of pests to control their numbers, so they don’t need to rely on pesticides*237

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ORGANIC FARMERS MANAGE PESTS USING NATURAL METHODS*230

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  • Organic farmers aim to control pests naturally*230

  • No herbicides (weedkillers) such as Glyphosate*231 are allowed in organic farming

  • Weedkillers can be detected in food including bread.*232 Their use is banned in organic farming*233

  • Choosing organic is an easy way to limit your exposure to pesticides, herbicides (weedkillers*234 and many additives and preservatives*235

  • Organic farmers aim to create a natural balance between plants and animals to prevents pests, so that they don’t need to rely on pesticides*236

  • Organic farmers aim to use natural enemies of pests to control their numbers, so they don’t need to rely on pesticides*237

  • Around 400 pesticides are used in farming in the UK*238 and pesticides are often present in non-organic food*239

  • Many pesticides remain in some of the food we eat, despite washing and cooking*240

  • In both 2017 and 2018, roughly a quarter of all food items tested by the government contained residues of more than one pesticide. In 2017, this included more than half of rice, a quarter of bread and 40% of fruit and vegetables*241

  • A study of soil in 11 European countries found UK sites had the second highest diversity of pesticide residues*242

  • A long-term UK study over two years revealed that 66% of samples taken from seven river catchments contained over ten pesticides*243

  • Between 1990 and 2016, the area of UK land treated with pesticides (treated area multiplied by number of applications) increased by almost two-thirds (63%)*244

  • One way to reduce your exposure to pesticides is to eat more organic food*245

  • The best way to reduce your exposure to pesticides in food is to buy organic; certified organic food, including fruit and vegetables, processed food and dairy and meat products have overall been found to contain less pesticides*246

  • In the 26 years between 1990 and 2016, the use of Glyphosate on British cereals has increased by well over ten times*247

  • Organic farming uses virtually no pesticides*248

  • In organic farming, all weed killers are banned - a very limited number of naturally occurring fungicides and insecticides are permitted and their use is severely restricted*249

  • Soil Association organic farmers are able to use a very limited number of naturally-derived pesticides like citronella and clove oil as a last resort, under very restricted circumstances*250

PLEASE NOTE: Claims which are based on the higher standards of the Soil Association are italicised and in bold and marked with the Soil Association organic symbol and they do not apply across all organic farming.

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Organic fruit
and vegetables cannot be washed in chlorine
*262

ADDITIVES

The use of additives and processing aids is heavily restricted in organic products,*251 organic products are made with care.*252 Only a heavily restricted list of essential additives and processing aids can be used in organic products,*253 and organic processed products are made using processing methods that guarantee the organic integrity and vital qualities of the product are maintained through all stages of manufacturing.*254

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  • Organic standards prohibit the use of toxic substances*255

  • Organic standards prohibit the use of toxic ingredients*256

  • Organic standards prohibit GM crops and ingredients, hydrogenated fats, and controversial artificial food colours
    and preservatives
    *257

  • Organic food can only be produced using natural products and substances*258

  • GM ingredients, hydrogenated fats and controversial artificial food colours, and preservatives including sodium benzoate, aspartame and food colouring tartrazine are banned under organic standards*259

  • Soil Association standards prohibit the use of nanoparticles2*260

  • Organic food must not be irradiated*261

  • Only organic wax coatings can be used on organic fruit and vegetables*263

  • Amongst the additives banned by Soil Association standards are hydrogenated fat, aspartame (artificial sweetener) and monosodium glutamate*264

  • Any natural flavourings used in Soil Association certified organic food can’t be extracted using ingredients from fossil fuels like hexane
    and acetone
    *265

  • Organic wines are produced in ways that reduce the potential for allergic reactions, by restricting the use of sulphur dioxide (Soil Association standards carry even higher restrictions)*266

  • Organic food will only contain added vitamins, minerals, amino acids, micronutrients and trace elements if this is the law*266

NUTRITIONAL DIFFERENCES

Following the three major meta-analyses which looked into the nutritional differences between organic and non-organic crops, meat and dairy, we have worked closely with the team at Newcastle University and have sought legal advice to establish whether it is possible to make advertising claims in relation to the results, which demonstrate significant nutritional differences.

However, whilst organic milk and meat do contain up to 50% more omega 3 fatty acids, these fail to
meet the minimum requirements needed to make a nutritional claim for these products, which requires organic milk to not only provide much more omega 3 than non-organic milk, but also to supply 30% of the Required Daily Amount of omega 3, which it does not.

For milk, this is due to the lower fat content (around 4% for whole milk). The Soil Association will continue to work with researchers to ensure we evaluate each study as it is released to establish whether we can make nutritional statements on a product by product basis.

However, the following is true:

  • Organic farming affects the quality of the food we eat

  • Organic is different

  • How we farm affects the quality of the food we eat

  • The difference in Omega 3 is because organic animals eat a more natural, grass-based diet containing high levels of clover - clover is used in organic farming to fix nitrogen so that crops and grass grow (instead of manufactured/ chemical fertilisers)

 

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“What you feed farm animals and how you treat them affects the quality of the food. The hard work organic farmers put into caring for their animals pays off in the quality of the food they produce, giving real value for money.” – Helen Browning, CEO of The Soil Association
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GM or GMOs

Organic food systems are opposed to Genetically Modified Organisms, for environmental, health and social reasons. All GM ingredients are therefore banned under organic standards. Whilst GM foods are very limited in the UK (all imports from outside Europe), most non-organic livestock are fed them. As such GM-fed meat, egg and dairy is widespread and unlabelled in supermarkets.

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  • No GM crops*268

  • No GM ingredients*269

  • Non GM2*270

  • No use of GM*271

  • GM crops and ingredients are banned in organic standards*272

  • GM animal feed is prohibited under organic standards*273

  • The use of genetically modified organisms is banned under organic standards*274

  • To meet organic standards, farmers and processors cannot use GMOs and must show that they are protecting their products from contamination with prohibited products from farm to fork*275

  • Most non-organic British chickens, pigs and cows are fed with imported GM crops*276

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REFERENCES

 

*218.EU Commission - Organic farming - Consumer Trust

*219.EU Commission - Organic farming - Consumer Trust  

*220.EU Commission - Organic farming - Consumer Trust “Whenever you buy organically certified food, you can be confident that it has been produced in accordance with strict EU environmental and animal welfare rules, and is checked regularly.”

*221.EU Commission – Organic Farming - organic certification 

222.Soil Association Standards for Farming & Growing v. Jan 2020.

*223.EU Commission – the organic logo of the EU – what does the logo guarantee? 

224. ec.europa.eu/info/food-farming-fisheries/farming/ organic-farming/organics-glance_en

*225.Compassion in World Farming (2012) Farm Assurance Schemes and Animal Welfare: How the standards compare (Executive Summary)’, available online from: ciwf.org.uk/media/5231246/standards_analysis_exec_ summary.pdf

*226.The Expert Committee On Pesticide Residues in Food (PRiF) Annual Report 2018: Available from assets.publishing.service.gov. uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/ file/824814/expert-committee-pesticide-residues-food- annual-report-2018.pdf

227.EU Commission – Organic farming – What is Organic farming? Available from ec.europa.eu/agriculture/organic/organic- farming/what-is-organic-farming_en

*228.Tuck, S. L., Winqvist, C., Mota, F., Ahnström, J., Turnbull, L. A., & Bengtsson, J. (2014). Land-use intensity and the effects of organic farming on biodiversity: a hierarchical meta- analysis. The Journal of Applied Ecology, 51(3), 746–755. Available from doi.org/10.1111/1365-2664.12219

v229.Soil Association Standards for Farming & Growing v. Jan 2020. Standard 2.6 and 2.6.1

*230.Soil Association Standards for Farming & Growing v. Jan 2020. Standard 2.6 and 2.6.1

*231.Soil Association Standards for Farming & Growing v. Jan 2020. Standard 2.6.2 and 2.6.3

*232.The Expert Committee On Pesticide Residues in Food (PRiF) Annual Report 2018: Available from assets.publishing.service.gov. uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/ file/824814/expert-committee-pesticide-residues-food- annual-report-2018.pdf “Glyphosate was sought in all

*288 samples of bread and wheat. 25 samples contained glyphosate, all within the MRL”

*233.Soil Association Standards for Farming & Growing v. Jan 2020. Standard 2.6

*234.Soil Association Standards for Farming & Growing v. Jan 2020. Standard 2.6.2

*235.Soil Association Standards for Food & Drink v. Jan 2020. Standards 6.4 and 6.5

*236.Soil Association Standards for Farming & Growing v. Jan 2020. Standard 2.6 and 2.6.1

*237.Soil Association Standards for Farming & Growing v. Jan 2020. Standard 2.6 and 2.6.1

*238.Goulson, D., Thompson, J. & Croombs, A. (2018)
‘Rapid rise in the toxic load for bees revealed by analysis of pesticide use in Great Bitain’, PeerJ 6:e5255 . Available from doi.org/10.7717/peerj.5255

*239.Soil Association and PAN UK (2019) The Cocktail Effect: How pesticide mixtures may be harming human health and the environment. Available from soilassociation. org/media/19535/the-pesticide-cocktail-effect.pdf

*240. Soil Association and PAN UK (2019) The Cocktail Effect: How pesticide mixtures may be harming human health and the environment. Available from soilassociation.org/media/19535/the-pesticide-cocktail-effect.pdf

*241.The Expert Committee On Pesticide Residues in Food (PRiF) Annual Report 2017 & 2018: Available from gov.uk/ government/publications/expert-committee-on-pesticide- residues-in-food-prif-annual-report

*242. Silva, V., Mol, H., Zomer, P., Tienstra, M., Ritsema, C.
and Geissen, V. (2019). Pesticide residues in European agricultural soils – A hidden reality unfolded. Science of the Total Environment 653: 1532–1545. Available from doi.org/10.1016/j. scitotenv.2018.10.441

*243.Baas J., vijver, M., Rambohul, J., van ‘t Zelfde, M., Svendsen, C. and Surgeon, D. (2016). Comparison and evaluation of pesticide monitoring programs using a process-based mixture model. Environ. Toxicol. Chem., 35(12), 3113-3123. Available from ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27183059

*244.Pesticide Usage Survey Statistics (PUS STATS) are hosted on the website of Fera Science Ltd (Fera) on behalf of the UK government’s Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) . Available from secure.fera. defra.gov.uk/pusstats/index.cfm)

*245.The Expert Committee On Pesticide Residues in Food (PRiF) Annual Report 2018: Available from assets.publishing.service.gov. uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/ file/824814/expert-committee-pesticide-residues-food- annual-report-2018.pdf and EFSA 2015 European Union Report on Pesticide Residues in Food, first published April 2017 Available from efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/pub/4791

*246.The Expert Committee On Pesticide Residues in Food (PRiF) Annual Report 2018: Available from assets.publishing.service.gov. uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/ file/824814/expert-committee-pesticide-residues-food- annual-report-2018.pdf and EFSA 2015 European Union Report on Pesticide Residues in Food, first published April 2017 Available from efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/pub/4791

*247.Calculations: in 1990, area of cereals treated = 161,213 hectares. In 2016 = 1,752,144 ha. (Source: Fera Science Ltd, Pesticide Usage Statistics Available from secure.fera.defra.gov.uk/ pusstats/index.cfm)

*248.Soil Association Standards for Farming & Growing v. Jan 2020. Standard 2.6

*249.Soil Association Standards for Farming & Growing v. Jan 2020. Standard 2.6.2 and 2.6.3

*250.Soil Association Standards for Farming & Growing v. Jan 2020. Standard 2.6.2 and 2.6.3

*251.Article 6 of EU Organic Regulation 834/2007 252. Article 6 of EU Organic Regulation 834/2007 253. Article 6 of EU Organic Regulation 834/2007 254. EU Organic Regulation 834/2007

*255.The prohibition of toxic substances in organic farming is required under Soil Association Standards for Farming & Growing v. Jan 2020, Standards 1.11.3, 1.13.3, 1.16.2, 1.16.7, 2.6, 3.4.13 (amongst others). The toxicity of pesticides used in non-organic farming is as described in report of Soil Association and PAN UK (2019) The Cocktail Effect: How pesticide mixtures may be harming human health and the environment. Available from soilassociation. org/media/19535/the-pesticide-cocktail-effect.pdf

*256.The prohibition of toxic substances in organic farming is required under Soil Association Standards for Farming & Growing v. Jan 2020, Standards 1.11.3, 1.13.3, 1.16.2, 1.16.7, 2.6, 3.4.13 (amongst others). The toxicity of pesticides used in non- organic farming is as described in report of Soil Association and PAN UK (2019) The Cocktail Effect: How pesticide mixtures may be harming human health and the environment. Available from soilassociation.org/media/19535/the- pesticide-cocktail-effect.pdf; The use of ethylene in food processing is also restricted in Soil Association Standards for Food and Drink v under standard 6.2.1

*257.Soil Association Standards for Food and Drink v Jan 2020. Standard 6.4, 6.5, 6.6, 5.11.2, 6.4.2

*258.EU Organic Regulation 834/2007

*259.Soil Association Standards for Food and Drink v Jan 2020. Standard 6.4, 6.5, 6.6, 5.11.2, 6.4.2

*260.Soil Association Standards for Food and Drink v Jan 2020. Standard 5.11.3

*261.Soil Association Standards for Food and Drink v Jan 2020. Standard 6.1.5

*262.Soil Association Standards for Food and Drink v Jan 2020. Standard 6.2.2

*263.Soil Association Standards for Food and Drink v Jan 2020. Standard 6.2.3

*264.Soil Association Standards for Food and Drink v Jan 2020. Standard 6.5

*265.Soil Association Standards for Food and Drink v Jan 2020. Standard 6.6.5

*266.Soil Association Standards for Food and Drink v Jan 2020. Standard 6.9.6

*267.Soil Association Standards for Food and Drink v Jan 2020. Standard 6.6.12

*268.Soil Association Standards for Farming and Growing v Jan 2020. Standard 1.11.2

*269.Soil Association Standards for Farming and Growing v Jan 2020. Standard 1.11.2 and Standards for Food & Drink v Jan 2020. Standard 5.11.2

*270.Soil Association Standards for Farming and Growing v Jan 2020. Standard 1.11.2

*271.Soil Association Standards for Farming and Growing v Jan 2020. Standard 1.11.2

*272.Soil Association Standards for Farming and Growing v Jan 2020. Standard 1.11.2, Standards for Food & Drink v Jan 2020, Standard 5.11.2, EU Directive 2001/18/EC, Regulation (EC) 1829/2003 or Regulation (EC) 1830/2003 and USDA National Organic Program

*273.Soil Association Standards for Farming and Growing v Jan 2020. Standard 1.11.2, Standards for Food & Drink v Jan 2020, Standard 5.11.2, EU Directive 2001/18/EC, Regulation (EC) 1829/2003 or Regulation (EC) 1830/2003

*274.Soil Association Standards for Farming and Growing v Jan 2020. Standard 1.11.2, Standards for Food & Drink v Jan 2020, Standard 5.11.2, EU Directive 2001/18/EC, Regulation (EC) 1829/2003 or Regulation (EC) 1830/2003

*275.Soil Association Standards for Farming and Growing v Jan 2020. Standard 1.11.2, Standards for Food & Drink v Jan 2020, Standard 5.11.2, EU Directive 2001/18/EC, Regulation (EC) 1829/2003 or Regulation (EC) 1830/2003

*276.Agricultural Biotechnology Council (2015) ‘Going Against the Grain’, Available from nfuonline.com/assets/54301