Straight to the Source : Daily Mail, UK, January 1, 2008
Thousands of tons of organic vegetables sold in British shops this year were produced using toxic chemical pesticides, it emerged yesterday.
Many shoppers - who pay premium prices for "naturally" grown veg - are unaware that any chemicals are allowed on any organic produce.
Under Soil Association rules, a small number of sprays are permitted.
But yesterday it emerged that increasing numbers of potato farmers have been asking for special permission to use large amounts of copper fungicide over the summer and autumn.
According to new figures, a third of UK organic potato farmers were given permission to spray crops with fungicides made with copper - a heavy metal that can cause liver disease.
The pesticide is one of a handful approved by the Soil Association - the charity that certifies and promotes organic food.
The association's website describes it as toxic, while the EU is planning to ban it in the next few years following concerns about its health effects.
Farmers were forced to resort to chemical sprays after one of the worst summers on record for potato blight - the disease that caused the 19th century Irish famine.
The Soil Association said 30 per cent of its growers had applied for special permission to use the fungicide while industry sources said organic farmers had bought "close to record" amounts over the summer.
Professor Tony Trewavas, an Edinburgh University plant scientist and critic of organic food, said copper compounds were 1,000 times more toxic than fungicides used on non-organic potatoes.