The study adds nothing substantive to the debate and might have been ignored had it not borne the imprimatur of one of America’s most respected universities. Most major media ignored the study’s flaws and reported it as if it were the last nail in the coffin of organic foods.
That is particularly unfortunate now, with Big Ag in a major push to promote industrial, technology-dependent agriculture as the only way to save the world from hunger. The irony of that is, of course, that highly industrialized agriculture is a major contributor to the climate change and environmental degradation that are going to push a whole lot more people into starvation.
Even one of the study’s lead authors admits the study is narrow. Dr. Crystal Smith-Spangler, a practicing internist and research instructor in the Division of General Medical Disciplines in the Stanford School of Medicine, told Remapping Debate her group did not look at environmental or health impacts of non-organic farming. Her comment is telling:
It was beyond the scope of our article to review and be able to really answer [those questions]. In these articles in the medical literature you aren’t given unlimited word count.
The Stanford team was conducting a survey, not writing a definitive treatise. Still, they have done harm to a movement that is working hard, with few resources, to counter the influence of industrialized agriculture. They have done a disservice to consumers, and Big Ag didn’t really need their help.
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