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New Junk Science Study Dismisses Nutritional Value of Organic Foods

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's All About Organics page and our Health Issues page.

You'd think Stanford would be above such sloppy research. You'd be wrong.

Stanford University researchers conducted a meta-analysis (a selection and summary) of seventeen studies in humans and 230 field studies of nutrient and contaminant levels in unprocessed foods (e.g., fruits, vegetables, grains, milk, eggs, chicken, pork, and meat).

The study, published yesterday in The Annals of Internal Medicine, concluded that "the published literature lacks strong evidence that organic foods are significantly more nutritious than conventional foods. Consumption of organic foods may reduce exposure to pesticide residues and antibiotic-resistant bacteria."

The media, of course, pounced on the first part of the conclusion and reported it with their usual ferocity, but in many instances completely ignored the second part. In fact, their headlines would lead you to believe there is no benefit to organic foods at all: "Stanford Scientists Cast Doubts on Advantages of Organic Meat and Produce" (New York Times); "Organic Food is Not Healthier than Conventional Produce" (Huffington Post); "Study Questions How Much Better Organic Food Is" (Houston Chronicle); "Organic, Conventional Foods Similar in Nutrition, Safety, Study Finds" (Washington Post). Even Stanford's own press release says, "Little Evidence of Health Benefits of Organic Food, Stanford Study Finds."

What the study actually said was that they didn't find "significant" or "robust" differences in nutritional content between organic and conventional foods, though they found that organic food had 30% less pesticide residue. Even though the pesticide levels fall within the safety guidelines set by the Environmental Protection Agency, it should be noted that the health effects of the pesticides are cumulative, and that what we would consider safe might not align with the EPA! For example, as we noted two weeks ago, herbicide residue on GMO crops may be causing fertility problems. Organophosphate exposure can lead to pre-term births, and both ADHD and lower IQs in children, according to several studies from leading universities.


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