Food industry minister David Miliband is set to cause a stir in the food industry after publicly declaring there is no evidence that organic food is better for you.
In an interview with the Sunday Times the secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs referred to the growing use of organic food as "a lifestyle choice".
"There isn't any conclusive evidence either way. It's only four per cent of total farm produce, not 40 per cent, and I would not want to say that 96 per cent of our farm produce is inferior because it's not organic," Mr Miliband said.
Organic foods are grown without the use of pesticides employed in conventional farming. Of the 100 pesticides used in farming, organic farmers have access to seven, to be used only as a last resort.
According to the Soil Association, the organisation which certifies organic farms in the UK, organic food is free of chemicals and food additives that have been linked to asthma and heart disease.
Organic farming also extends to the rearing of farm animals. The use of drugs, antibiotics and worming methods is banned in organic livestock farming. The use of genetically modified food is also banned in organic farming.
According to the association's website demand for organic produce has grown. In 2006, a rise in the popularity of organic produce saw demand in UK stores rise by 30 per cent.
But Mr Miliband says that shoppers should not regard produce farmed using conventional methods as "second best".