Letter to the editor: Response to The Guardian

17th August 2022


Whilst not unsurprised by George Monbiot’s article (The most damaging farm products? Organic, pasture-fed beef and lamb) given his inclinations, it does pose questions. Such as, why he suggests that the 1% of world livestock protein produced extensively, is the most environmentally damaging, rather than focusing on the majority of livestock that are produced intensively and proven to have a significant detrimental environmental impact?

As the largest certifier of organic land area in the UK, OF&G agree that the inequalities and environmental damage caused by global food systems must be urgently addressed. We must implement solutions that reduce the resources required to feed the population. To achieve this demands a transition to more benign agricultural practices, of which organic systems deliver significant beneficial impacts and advantages.

Despite attacking organic with the headline, Mr Monbiot fails to substantiate his polarising claim with any concrete evidence. Many of the papers cited refer to non-organic, large scale US grazing systems which provide a woefully inaccurate benchmark. We should be more concerned by the fact that intensively farmed livestock consume around 37.5% of the world cereal crops, invariably produced using synthetic pesticides and fertilisers.

In a political context, the EU’s commitment to reaching 25% organically farmed land by 2031 is overwhelmingly at odds with Mr Monbiot’s outlook. I would suggest that the European Commission’s comprehensive and ambitious policy is based, not only on far more rigorous and impartial research (a recognition of the scale of change that we need to implement) but also with far more admirable objectives than generating book sales.

Roger Kerr, Chief Executive, Organic Farmers & Growers CIC, Shropshire