The European Court of Auditors, the European Union’s (EU) financial watchdog, has advised that EU payments for promoting organic food production are not being properly administered or monitored.

Furthermore, it says the cost of ensuring subsidised production is indeed organic “poses particular problems” and is “far more resource intensive” than checking standard food subsidies and “can rarely lead to even reasonable assurance at a reasonable cost”.

The court says that from 2007, EU ministers should even consider dropping the subsidy on financial control grounds. The court said European Commission reports on organic subsidy inspection systems “are incomplete and not reliable”, with inspectors lacking “detailed instructions”.