Industrialized food systems that penalise sustainable farmers and producers are a serious injustice and should be robustly challenged, says the president of Italian organic group AssoBio.

Addressing the recent TuttoFood exhibition in Milan, Roberto Zanoni, said: “It is a contradiction that our businesses, which together with good foods produce public goods such as the protection of the environment and biodiversity, animal welfare and rural development, have to bear costs to certify that they do not pollute, while polluters pay nothing and offload the costs to the community.”

Zanoni said that growing numbers of consumers were shared this view: “The (organic) market is booming all over the world. The consumer is increasingly aware of the overall quality of the products he buys and is less and less interested in products that, even if apparently cheap, have a heavy environmental impact.

Zanoni said that it was time for Italy’s National Organic Plan “finally to come out of the drawers in which it has been carefully housed for more than a year”.

He added: “… it approved in March 2016 by the Conference of State and Regional government – but nothing’s has happened yet. The plan provides for the promotion of supply chain policies, research, innovation and training, institutional communication tools and regulatory simplification. The growth rate of organic agricultural surface (which is already 12% of the total national agricultural area), the growing number of farms and processing companies (+8% last year), and the increase in demand by Italian and foreign consumers show that organic food is the only credible alternative to a way of producing no longer sustainable and cannot therefore be left without basic tools to better develop and consolidate”.