Organic Articles: Czar Wars

The Organic Consultancy

Czar Wars

Simon Wright
The Organic Consultancy

This article originally appeared in the July 2003 edition of Organic Business.

I write these words hours after Michael Meacher resigned from his post as Minister. His enthusiasm for organic food in general and for the Organic Action Plan in particular was remarkable and he will be sorely missed. His successor has a hard act to follow.

During his time at Defra Michael Meacher was loggerheads with the FSA, who do not appear to share his enthusiasm for organic matters. This impasse has left consumers unsure about who to believe and has made other government departments less enthusiastic about embracing organic procurement policies. In the eyes of the organic sector it has reduced the credibility of the FSA, who in other areas had been widely recognised as doing a good job. However the FSA organic research day last year was a useful first step. The FSA’s Chair Sir John Krebs has recently confirmed that the Agency are prepared to consider funding research on the nutritional aspects of organic food. Sir John has also now agreed that buying organic is one way that consumers can reduce the levels of pesticide residues in their food, which is one of the FSA’s targets.

So maybe the time is right for a more radical approach?

The Organic Action Plan emanated from Downing Street, so let’s get Tony Blair to appoint an Organic Czar, whose job it is to get all the stakeholders around the table and thrash out the areas of agreement. Gordon Brown should be in favour, since the NHS can save some money on treating obesity and CHD once we demonstrate that organic diets are high in fruit and vegetables and thus low in sugar, salt and hydrogenated fat. Appointing an organic supremo would be popular with the 80% of the UK population who bought organic food in the past year and support hard-pressed UK organic farmers whilst making inroads into improving the national diet.

The official Organic Business Let’s Appoint An Organic Czar campaign starts here. Email me your suggestions (simon@organic-consultancy.com), the best nomination wins a bottle of organic rum and the lucky candidate will be presented with his (or her) Superman-style outfit at the first available opportunity. Applications from former Ministers particularly welcome