Thursday, July 30, 2009

The problem with organic foods - need for objectivity

The Straits Times has followed up on this controversy by publishing an editorial comment about it.

The problem that plagues controversies such as these is that one is often unsure about the credibility of the scientific data out there. Nowadays we cannot even put our full confidence in academic studies because these studies can be funded by commercial interests. Sometimes these interests are reported, but often they are not revealed. The possible involvement of the agri-food industry is also highlighted in the ST editorial.

But my previous post references comments made by the UK FSA (Food Safety Agency). The FSA is "an independent Government department set up by an Act of Parliament in 2000 to protect the public's health and consumer interests in relation to food". One hopes that their governance allows them to be objective about the issue.

Thinking about the FSA also triggered some thinking on my part about our own food agency, the AVA (Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority). Unlike the FSA, the AVA's mission is to "..ensure a resilient supply of safe food, safeguard the health of animals and plants and facilitate agri-trade for Singapore". Like many of our regulatory agencies in Singapore, the AVA's mission carries some inherent conflict of interests. It does not just regulate food safety, but must also ensure food supply and promote agri-trade. How do they do they manage this conflicted mission?

One other thing I've also wondered about is why the separation between food safety, environment safety and pharmaceutical safety? Whether they deal with pesticides, environmental pollutants or pharmaceutical safety, these are all different parts of the same spectrum of safety concerns. Should they not reside in the same regulatory agency? Can environmental toxicology be artificially separated from health and medical toxicology?

1 comment:

Leather Diaries said...

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