29 July 2009

Organic food is no better for you

As the owner of an organic farm (www.empirefarm.co.uk), I was very disappointed to read the findings of the Food Standards Agency's Organic Review. The research was carried out by a team from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who examined all the evidence on nutrition and health benefits from the past 50 years. The Soil Association in their response to the report could not understand why the research team decided to ignore virtually all of the existing comparative studies between organic and non organic foods. The reason given being that the studies did not met their criteria? In those studies where they did find differences, the research team felt that they were not important. For example, the researchers found that there was 50% more beta-carotene, 38% more flavonoids, and 11 % more zinc in organic food but decided it was not significant. They admitted that there were higher levels of the benficial polyunstaurated fatty acids in meat and dairy but again it was not considered beneficial to health. Bizarrely the study also ignored the results of a major multi-million pound study by 31 European research institutes that was published in April. This European Union research programme concluded that:
    • Levels of a range of nutritionally desirable compounds such as antioxidants, vitamins, glycosinolates were shown to be higher in organic crops
    • Levels of nutritionally undesirable compounds such as mycotoxins, glycoalkaloids, Cadmium and Nickel were shown to be lower in organic crops'.
    • The levels of fatty acids, such as CLA and omega 3 were between 10 - 60% higher in organic milk and dairy products, and levels of Vitamin C were up to 90% higher in leafy vegetables and fruits.

Another area ignored by the FSA study was the long term effects of pesticides on our health. A study pubished in 2006 concluded that the long tem exposure to pesticides can disrupt the immune systme, cause sexual disordered, and damage the nervous system and DNA.

So I'm not really clear why the FSA should fund such a poorly researched report unless of cause they are out to discredit organic food. I, for one, know that I do not want to eat food that has been sprayed with pesticides and fertilisers, often several times in a growing season.

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