A study released last week provided new fodder for the ongoing debate about whether organic food really provides health benefits.
In the report released Sept. 4, researchers at Stanford University analyzed over 230 field studies and 17 human studies that had previously been conducted in the United States and Europe.
The purpose of the project was to “compare pesticide residues, antibiotic resistance and vitamin and nutrient levels in organic and conventionally produced foods” to determine if eating organic foods was healthier than consuming conventionally grown ones.
The study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, determined that “consumers can markedly reduce their intake of pesticide residues and their exposure to antibiotic-resistant bacteria by choosing organic produce and meat.”
On the other hand, the researchers did not find a significant difference in nutritional makeup between organic and conventional foods. The study lacked “strong evidence that organic foods are significantly more nutritious than conventional foods.”
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) noted that the Stanford study “did not directly address the important environmental and public health benefits that result from reduced pesticide and antibiotic use. Synthetic pesticides can kill insect pollinators, harm wildlife and farmworkers and often end up in the air and water.”
The study's co-author, Dr. Crystal Smith-Spangler, walked back some of the media hype concerning the study.
According to an interview with public policy website Remapping Debate, “It was beyond the scope of our article to review and be able to really answer" any questions having to do with:
- The environmental effects of non-organic farming.
- The human health effects of agricultural chemicals leeching into groundwater
- The effects of pesticides on farm workers
- The risks of non-organic farms serving as fertile breeding grounds for antibiotic-resistant bacteria
What do you think, Patch readers?
Do you feed your family organic food? Why or why not? Tell us in the comments.