Via the Enviroment/Food section of the Guardian:
Supermarkets accused over organic foods
Pressure to ease standards, say experts
Supermarkets are putting pressure on organic food watchdogs to lower standards so they can fully exploit a billion-pound industry which is growing by 30% a year, according to leading figures in the movement.
Fears that organic farming is falling victim to commercial pressures to abandon key principles have led to disputes in the Soil Association, the gold standard of the groups that certify “green” products.
Lawrence Woodward, a pioneer of the organic movement and a former head of the association, told the Guardian many producers were taking advantage of grey areas in the regulations for organic farming, and the public were being conned…
…Mr Woodward said examples of “lowering standards” were the large numbers of “derogations”, or get-out clauses, allowing farmers to be awarded organic licences even though they do not meet the correct standards. These include the use of conventional feed for poultry, the continued practice of slicing the beaks off chickens to prevent them mutilating each other, and the sale of organic chicken from flocks of 2,000 and more, even though the association recommendation is 500.