Caution on “Green” Claims for Organics

A major UK farmers’ organization is cautioning those of its members who grow organic foods against leaning too heavily on claims that such foods are more environmentally-friendly than non-organics.

Here’s the story, by Caroline Stocks, for Farmers Weekly Interactive: Organic farmers told to rein in green claims

Organic farmers should avoid making claims about the environmental benefits of organic agriculture in a bid to increase demand for their produce, NFU president Peter Kendall has said.

Speaking at the Soil Association conference in Manchester on Wednesday (9 February), Mr Kendall said organic producers needed to convince consumers about the quality of their produce rather than making claims which might not stand up.

The NFU (National Farmers Union) includes both non-organic and organic farmers. Or, as their website’s page about organics puts it, the organization “represents around 2,000 farmers with an interest in the organic sector” (in addition to farmers engaged in other kinds of farming).

Notice the tension here: the NFU represents the interests of all kinds of farmers (at least to the extent to which its membership is diverse). But it also faces a challenge in terms of competition between its members, and in particular competition between categories of members. In his speech, Mr. Kendall is basically suggesting that certain kinds of ethical arguments ought to be played down, in order to promote the interests of farmers (and, in fairness, of consumers) as a group.

About Chris MacDonald

I'm a philosopher who teaches at Ryerson University's Ted Rogers School of Management in Toronto, Canada. Most of my scholarly research is on business ethics and healthcare ethics.
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One Response to Caution on “Green” Claims for Organics

  1. Pingback: Farmers, Organics, & the Ethics of Industry Organizations | Ethics for Adversaries

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