By Audrey Gillan
The organic food industry rounded on a government minister yesterday after he said there was no proof that organic produce was healthier than ordinary food. David Miliband, the environment, food and rural affairs secretary, said that buying organic food was a "lifestyle choice", and produce grown with the use of pesticides and other chemicals should not be regarded as second-best.
His views were condemned as "patronising" to consumers and "insulting" to organic farmers by the Soil Association, the organic farmers' organisation. Its director, Patrick Holden, said: "I actually think it is rather sad because it suggests that David Miliband is profoundly ignorant of the benefits that are motivating people to buy organic food. The industry has grown without the support of the government and we thought we finally had it on our side. I find it amazing the minister is being so dismissive." Asked about the benefits claimed for organic food, Mr Miliband said: "It's a lifestyle choice that people can make. There isn't any conclusive evidence either way."