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Flaws in the "Organic Food" Study

Health & Wellness  (tags: food, organic, organic food, environment, diet, nutrition, prevention, protection, study )

- 2075 days ago -
Last month there was a great deal of media attention paid to a study about organic food, which was widely cited for concluding that "[there is no] evidence that organic foods are significantly more nutritious than conventional foods."

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Michael O (176)
Sunday October 14, 2012, 2:51 pm
But the study is more spin than significant science.

A critique of the study in the New York Times by columnist and food writer Mark Bittman points out the weaknesses and oversimplifications in the study that have been used to "debunk" organic food based on criteria that are significantly immaterial to the organic label.

Bittman says of the study, "[it] was like declaring guns no more dangerous than baseball bats when it comes to blunt-object head injuries. It was the equivalent of comparing milk and Elmerís glue on the basis of whiteness. It did, in short, miss the point." The other half of the conclusion of the study, "Consumption of organic foods may reduce exposure to pesticide residues and antibiotic-resistant bacteria," was much more overlooked.

Organic food has never been about some perception of super-food with extra nutritional value, except perhaps to those who don't understand organic in the first place. But this study was so narrow in its definitiion of "nutritious" (which was taken to mean "containing more vitamins") that, as Bittman points out, "you can claim that, based on nutrients, Frosted Flakes are a better choice than an apple."

The benefits of organic farming are numerous, and are far beyond relative comparison of the amount of some vitamin content. Not only are there potential individual benefits (the aforementioned reduced exposure to pesticide residue and so forth), but contributing to such broader environmental benefits as reduced pesticide use and more sustainable farming practices are also worthwhile goals.


Julie P (154)
Sunday October 14, 2012, 6:36 pm
Organic farming practices sequesters carbon, and organic soil is more water retentive. There is strong evidence that indicates pesticides contribute to or cause cancer, birth defects, and a host of other medical conditions. They are now found in rainwater.

"The list of diseases that Huber suspects may be affected by glyphosate and the new pathogen is, he said, increasing as growers and pathologists recognize the cause-effect relationship:

Increase in cancers of the liver, thyroid, kidneys, tests, and skin melanomas.

Increase in allergic reactions in general, and an increase of up to 50% in soybean allergies in the USA in the last three years.

Increase on an epidemic-scale in the incidence of Alzheimerís disease, perhaps as much as 9,000% over the last 30 years. Specialists say they expect the incidence of Alzhiemerís to spike far higher over the next four years.

Increase in the incidence of Parkinsonís disease, which researchers say, is being provoked in part by the factor of chemical pesticides.

What Has Changed?

As if it were a mantra, during his three-hour talk Dr. Huber often raised a rhetorical question: What has changed? If all of these troubling conditions are on the rise for plants, animals and humans in recent years, then what has changed to bring it about?

The most apparent change, he answered, is that glyphosate and genetically engineered plants are out widely in the world. According to Huber, farm animals, including cattle, pigs, horses and chickens that are fed GM crops grown on glyphosate-treated fields have shown an alarming increase in sterility, spontaneous abortions, and stillbirths."

"Recent studies of major rivers and streams documented that 96% of all fish, 100% of all surface water samples and 33% of major aquifers contained one or more pesticides at detectable levels. The most common pesticides found were those typically used for lawn treatments. Other studies have determined that common pesticides at low level concentrations are highly toxic to aquatic wildlife and decreased their populations by nearly 70 percent...

According to the Rachel Carson Council, a study of the unintended economic consequences of pesticides found that:
1) The estimated pollination losses to food production from pesticides' effects on honey bees and wild bees is $200 million per year;
2) Destruction by pesticides of the natural enemies of pests can cost an estimated $520 million per year in the U.S.;
3) A conservative estimate of fish (6-14 million) killed per year by pesticides ranges from $24 to $56 million; and
4) The total number of wild birds killed by pesticides is estimated at 67 million and the value of this bird loss to pesticides is $2.1 billion annually."

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