Prince Charles defies critics to make new plea for organic farming

Tue Nov 12, 2013 7:07pm EST
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By Belinda Goldsmith

LONDON (Reuters) - Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne, has made a fresh appeal for more organic farming, insisting his approach was based on science rather that "a quirk" and dismissing those who would prefer he keeps his opinions private.

Charles, who turns 65 this week, has often voiced strong views on the environment, architecture and social affairs, a stance that contrasts sharply with his mother, Queen Elizabeth, who never reveals her thoughts on such matters.

The prince came under scrutiny this summer when it was revealed he had held 36 meetings with government ministers since the Conservative-led coalition took power in 2010, up 13 from the same period of the last Labor government. Critics said it showed he enjoyed undue political influence.

But the criticism has not deterred Charles from speaking out and in an article for Country Life magazine published on Wednesday, he voiced concerns about modern farming and the lack of young people choosing life on the land.

"The pressure from global competition, the effects of climate change and the spiraling costs of fuel and feed only add to the difficulty," he wrote.

"Our ash trees are under threat and so, too, our bee population ... At the same time, we are not farming in a way that enables nutrients to return to the soil naturally. And this matters."

"We should acknowledge this rather than regard it as a quirk," said Prince Charles who converted his country estate, Highgrove in Gloucestershire, to organic farming in 1986.

"Science is fundamental if we are to make sustainable agriculture more productive, but I believe it is the combination of the best of traditional techniques with the best of modern knowledge that will make the difference we so urgently need."   Continued...

Britain's Prince Charles poses for pictures against the backdrop of Vazhachal waterfalls at Thrissur district in the southern Indian state of Kerala November 12, 2013. REUTERS/Sivaram V