HC Deb 13 January 2000 vol 342 c237W
Helen Jackson

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he is taking to inform the public of the benefits to health of organically grown produce. [103788]

Yvette Cooper

The Government have not published specific advice on the health benefits of organically grown produce. This is because at present there is little information available on which to make meaningful comparisons between nutrient contents or organic and conventional produce.

A study commissioned by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food on the nutritional composition of organically grown fruit and vegetables found only small differences in levels of some nutrients between organically grown and conventionally grown fruit and vegetables. However, it did note that confounding variables, such as differences in the variety grown and the age of samples, made it difficult to draw comparisons. A handful of similar studies have been published in the mainstream scientific literature since. In general, these have found no consistent or significant differences in nutrient content between organic and conventional produce.

The Government stress the importance of a balanced diet for good health based on evidence based studies. We have funded, through the Health Education Authority, a variety of projects aimed at improving access to, and availability of, healthy eating choices and at encouraging people to eat less fat and more cereals, fruit and vegetables.