Anger as organic links to Government removed

Date Published: 20/10/2010

News that the Advisory Committee on Organic Standards is to be axed by the Government has been met with dismay by a leading organic control body.

ACOS existed to advise ministers on issues relating to the standards applied to the production of organic food and has been comprised of experts from across the sector.

It has been announced that the group will be axed in a round of cost-saving cuts affecting many specialist and advisory bodies.

Organic Farmers & Growers, which inspects and licenses organic farmers and food producers throughout the UK, believes that ACOS, or an equivalent body, is critical to the well-being of the organic sector and should be retained.

OF&G Chief Executive, Richard Jacobs, said: “I am dismayed and not a little annoyed at this announcement. ACOS plays a very important role in the protection and advancement of organic standards. The people who serve, and have served, on the committee have been instrumental in the growth of the organic sector in the UK and much of that is based on the trust that such a robust approach to standards builds with shoppers.

“It’s unlikely that removing this critical source of advice for ministers is going to contribute much in the way of budget savings to Defra, but it could lead to serious problems down the line for organics if a tight rein, based on expert support, is not kept on the organic standards and their application.

“I can’t speak for all of my colleagues who make up the current ACOS committee, but I suspect that many of us would have been willing to forgo the small expenses payments that are currently made and it may be that some or all of the secretarial duties involved could also have been absorbed by members and their various organisations. I would strongly urge ministers to think again in a bid to keep alive this very important link between industry and government.”