from the Soil Association
Obsession with high yield crops has stunted food nutrition
Basic foods from modern crops contain significantly less vital nutrients – a problem which poses a heightened risk for public health, a BBC programme warned on Sunday night.
Expert contributors to Radio 4's Costing the Earth – The Great Mineral Heist said there has been an "obsession with high yield crops" and that there has been a "systematic decline" in food nutrition. The programme weakens the judgement of scientists working for the Food Standards Agency, who claim that some higher levels of nutrients in organic food are “not important.”
Plants draw beneficial minerals that are naturally occurring in soil and pass them on to people. But modern crop varieties bred for high yield and supplied with high levels of artificial fertiliser do not need to put down extensive roots and therefore draw less on naturally occurring minerals from the soil. Organic plants are forced to search for basic nutrients and take up more of the extra naturally occurring minerals and are therefore more nutritious.
A report from the Organic Centre in the US states: “Higher yields, while desirable, may come with the hidden cost of lower nutritional quality, and in some cases, heightened risk of food safety and animal health problems.
Peter Melchett said: “It is timely that the importance of mineral levels in food is being recognised in this new programme. Organic farming offers a clear way to improve the mineral uptake of plants by encouraging plants to effectively utilise naturally occurring minerals in soil.”