The Irish Organic Farmers & Growers Association has defended the nutritional benefits of organic food.

The association says views expressed at a Dublin conference yesterday showed the level of misconception and bias that operates in Ireland about organic farming.

It says Dr Con O'Rourke of the Food Safety Authority correctly highlighted the need for more scientific research about organic farming.

But the organic growers criticise research presented by the FSAI suggesting that there is no scientific evidence to show that organic food is more nutritious.

However, this contradicts a four-year study carried out at Newcastle University on the benefits of organic food.

The EU-funded study was carried out on organic and non-organic sites across Europe and on a farm attached to the university.

Results of the study indicate that organic wheat, tomatoes, potatoes, cabbage, onions and lettuce had 20-40% more nutrients.

Levels of antioxidants in organic milk were between 50-80% higher than conventional milk.

The findings have led to calls for the FSA in the UK to revise its opinion on organic food, which states that scientific opinion does not support the view that organic food is safer and more nutritious.