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Organic Consumers Association

Stanford's "Spin" on Organics Allegedly Tainted by Biotechnology Funding

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

Cornucopia, Wis. - A recent study by Stanford University researchers made international headlines when it claimed that organic foods are no more safe or nutritious than conventional foods.  Organic researchers, farmers and advocacy groups immediately recognized the study as woefully flawed, and alleged underlying political motivations.

"People don't buy organic food just because they think it contains slightly higher levels of nutrients, they buy organic for many other reasons, primarily to avoid toxic pesticide residues and toxins that have been genetically engineered into the food," says Charlotte Vallaeys, Food and Farm Policy Director at The Cornucopia Institute, a non-profit organic farm policy organization.

Academics and organic policy experts, including at Cornucopia, immediately recognized that Stanford's research in fact substantiates dramatic health and safety advantages in consuming organic food, including an 81% reduction in exposure to toxic and carcinogenic agrichemicals.  Unfortunately, readers would never know it by the headlines, since the results of the study were spun by the Stanford researchers and public relations staff, and accepted without the necessary fact-checking by journalists in a rush to file stories over the Labor Day weekend.

Not surprisingly, the study's glaring errors, both in understanding the important and complex differences between organic and conventional foods and in the researchers' flawed choice of research methods, prompted organic advocates to look closely at financial ties between Stanford's Freeman Spogli Institute, which supports the researchers, and the chemical and agribusiness industry.

"There was just no way that truly independent scientists with the expertise required to adequately answer such an important question would ignore the vast and growing body of scientific literature pointing to serious health risks from eating foods produced with synthetic chemicals," says Vallaeys.  


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