FSA wastes my money on rubbish organic research

Preparing for pesticide application.
Image via Wikipedia

The UK government food watchdog, the Food Standards Agency, has published a new report on organic food.

“Let’s stop this tomfoolery once-and-for-all about organic food being better for you,” seems to be the subtext.

In its attempts to convince us we are wrong to trust our senses (including common sense and sense of taste), the Food Standards Agency has had to undertake some mind-bending contortions. See for yourself – the actual report is here.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) claims to have conducted an exhaustive review of all the literature comparing organic and non-organic produce in the last 50 years.

Its review of 162 studies seems rather meagre compared to the Soil Association‘s 2001 review by Shane Heaton of over 400 studies.

Perhaps the FSA managed to keep its numbers low by omitting studies. It conveniently left out:

  • studies on contaminants such as pesticide residues (see pic)
  • studies examining the environmental benefits of organic farming
  • results of a major European Union-funded study involving 31 research and university institutes and the publication of more than 100 scientific papers earlier this year.

Professor Carlo Leifert, who conducted the above EU-study, which found organic milk is way-much better for you than non-organic milk, remarked:

“With these literature reviews you can influence the outcome by the way that you select the papers that you use for your meta-analysis…My feeling – and quite a lot of people think this – is that this is probably the study that delivers what the FSA wanted as an outcome.”

The FSA could find only eleven studies that fitted its meta-criteria.

Hello?

I am no scientist, but since when was eleven a big-enough sample to draw conclusions?

The fact is we need more research on the nutritional differences.

But I don’t want my tax spent on a biased analysis.

The FSA has a reputation for being hysterically anti-organic and pro-GM.

This report is making me think its rep is live and kickin’ again.

Addendum 19 September 2009

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]My understanding of this report continues to grow.
Let me share my findings: the FSA report DID show higher levels of key nutrients in organic food in some of the data.
The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine carried out the survey (goodness knows why)
rejected the findings because the samples did not meet its criteria.
If you add the samples together, the results would show organic food does have more nutrients.
Crikey – complicated, eh?
It’s the deceptions and obfuscations which make things hard to understand.
I always say: the truth is simple.

49 responses to “FSA wastes my money on rubbish organic research

  1. What a load of tosh!

    Sounds so close to the Environment Agency’s real nappy report … which used a sample of something like 9 real nappy users, who boiled, tumbled dried & even ironed (!!) their nappies, and convenientely ‘forgot’ about the whole bloody waste issue.

    I can just about face arguments against organic based on taste – as in, organic doesn’t taste any different to them.

    Sad, but true, that some people have no palette, but at least a sound argument.

    Grrrr
    *waves fist in non-violent manner*

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  2. It sounds surreal, Kafka-esque that organic food (and the use of real nappies) can be dismissed on the basis on such tiny research samples!

    Who are they kiddin’?

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  3. It’s a typical sales pitch, appealing to the readers’ narcissistic preoccupation with their own bodies and totally ignoring any socio-economic or environmental issues. What’s good for my ego is good for the world!

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  4. Thanks, John. But organic food is also good for my body too! There is sufficient scientific evidence to convince me. There is the taste of fresh organic produce to further persuade. And finally there is the fresh and light way I feel afterwards. So that is all the me-me-me reasons before we even get to the environmental and animal welfare reasons…

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  5. the scary thing is that we are paying for the FSA to waste their time choosing the few reports which support their vested interests opinions.

    So they can spend even more money trying to convince us that what we already know from common sense and our own experience is not true and that we should be eating lots of chemically enhanced and genetically modified yummy food!

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  6. Organic food – such a fancy name to describe food the way it has been grown for thousands of years! How amazingly arrogant that an agency founded in the XXth century should find it possible, nay easy, to dismiss a growing method that does nothing to chemically contaminate either soil or waterways. I do have reservations however about the supposed superior taste of all organic food over non-organic. Let’s be honest. Has no reader of this blog ever eaten tasteless organic strawberries? I have.

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  7. Pingback: Dogma on the supermarket shelf

  8. I agree, the FSA represents vested interests – and we are paying for them! The cheek…

    Diana, yes, the term ‘organic’ came about in the 1930s-40s as chemical farming gained supremacy. So those who wanted compost-based farming were forced to define themselves. I resent it too! It is like having to describe food as GM-free. This is ridiculous – it is GM food that needs labelling not traditional real food!

    Tasteless organic strawberries? I need more information: where did they come from and in what season?

    Organic strawberries eaten in the same country as they were grown (ie not long-travelled nor chilled), and picked when ripe, are unbeatable.

    I had some from our local Wrington Greens veg box and they were out-of-this-world: strawberries as they used to taste, sweet and juicesome…

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  9. Sorry to sound harsh but I hate it when people try to discredit scientific evidence and research by repeating these baseless claims that is only good for Grazia magazine.

    “There is the taste of fresh organic produce to further persuade. And finally there is the fresh and light way I feel afterwards. So that is all the me-me-me reasons before we even get to the environmental and animal welfare reasons..” That is some compelling scientific evidence!!

    If you don’t understand what meta analysis is please please don’t try to say they omitted studies that addressed so and so. Of course they should exclude them as they don’t answer the research question. That is how scientific research is conducted!!

    Please leave science alone. Stick to hocous-pocus pseudo-science evidence. There is plenty of that in the organic shop next door.

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  10. I always buy as local as possible and as I live on the Essex borders usually find and consume either Essex or Cambridgeshire grown strawbs. They are wonderfully sweet – even the non-organic ones which I occasionally buy! However I recently had a small cardboard punnet of locally grown organic strawbs in my weekly fruit box (don’t want to name the growers here) but they were small and quite watery, believe me! As for the organic stawberries grown for supermarkets, I have definitely been disappointed in the past when purchasing IN SEASON. So there!

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  11. O bastards bastards…now I feel depressed. Maybe you should tell that Bad Science guy in the Guardian so he can write about their unscientific approach and alert more people? And I agree big time with John above that organic food is not all about individual health..its about the health of the earth and wuildlife and the bigger picture you selfish arseholes.

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  12. I didnt of course mean YOU as in the people commenting here. I meant that towards the selfish arseholes of the world including the corrupt FSA.

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  13. Unbelievable report! We were in the car when we heard on the radio and of course immediately thought of you!

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  14. Wow Elisabeth you are going to be shocked at this but the Daily Mail has followed on your scoop:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-1203343/JOANNA-BLYTHMAN-A-cancerous-conspiracy-poison-faith-organic-food.html

    Great reporting in getting there first!

    Mike x

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  15. Ben Goldacre has laid into the Soil Association for answering the wrong questions:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/aug/01/bad-science-organic-food

    Meanwhile, the latest press release from the biodynamic camp welcomes the FSA
    condemnation of organics — as if the FSA’s objection was that the Soil Association just didn’t go far enough! And imagine what B.G. would have to say
    about planting by the phases of the moon.
    http://www.food4media.com/uk/pressrelease.php?id=23694&mo=3&referencekey=e496959634eaca26ea40f849d4b049fc

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  16. @John

    Well done for bringing the Guardian article to this discussion. Some voice of reason against pseudo-science.

    See the difference between The Guardian and The Daily Mail. Tells you loads about the difference between quality newspaper and right wing scare mongers .

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  17. @Ingrid Rose

    You wanted the Bad Science guy to write about it. You prayers have been answered:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/aug/01/bad-science-organic-food

    read though it and see which side used science and which side used hocous-pocus.

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  18. What Goldacre does not take into account is that, even in “real” science, the answers you get are determined by the questions you ask (see T.F. Kuhn, “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions”). For instance, if you ask, “How does the nutrient content of our produce today compare with that of half a century ago?”, David Thomas, in a comparison of successive editions of McCance and Widdowson’s The Composition of Foods, found that over a fifty-one year period there had been a drastic decline in the average mineral content of our vegetables:

    Loss of 49% of their Sodium content
    Loss of 16% of their Potassium content
    Loss of 24% of their Magnesium content
    Loss of 46% of their Calcium content
    Loss of 27% of their Iron content
    Loss of 76% of their Copper content

    The explanation may lie in breeding, in chemical fertilizers, or in both plus other factors, but the overall explanation is the manipulation of agriculture for profit rather than for nutrition. The FSA’s meta-analysis does not take into account that almost all nutritional research is paid for either directly or indirectly by the food industry, and scientists themselves acknowledge privately that how much money they get is ultimately determined by what conclusions they are likely to reach.

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  19. Kano, I agree: the FSA chose a very specific research question: the nutritional differences between organic and non-organic food.

    However I still disagree with its conclusion.

    There is sufficient evidence that points to higher nutritional differences in organic food. For instance a ten-year comparison from the University of California found organic tomatoes had almost double the amounts of antioxidants, while levels of the health-enhancing flavonoids were found to be on average 79% and 97% higher, respectively, in organic tomatoes.

    However, there is not enough long-term research conducted into the nutritional differences.

    Sadly most research money goes into high-tech farming such as GM crops than sustainable farming methods.

    We need MORE exacting long-term scientific studies – not a review conducted on a small sample by a a highly-influential body known for its biased position.

    You say I should leave science alone.

    According to your world view, I should accept the FSA’s conclusion that the superior nutritional differences found in organic food were not “important” precisely because I am, in your mind, a nincompoop who does not understand science.

    I am not a scientist, it is true. But that does not stop me experiencing life as a person in my own right.

    My own experience of food is a valid finding.

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  20. “Kano, I agree: the FSA chose a very specific research question: the nutritional differences between organic and non-organic food.”

    Aside from the question of who paid for the research, note that their brief totally avoided any examination of the underlying causes, e.g. the fact that mass-produced organic agriculture must rely on mass-produced seeds and take place in soil that has been long depleted of natural nutriments. Long-term soil health is in itself a whole complex area of study, and the prognosis is so ominous that most establishment scientists just don’t want to know.

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  21. This is from one of the comments on the Guardian website (from Charlie):
    ‘The people from the soil association and those who believe that organic food is right need to stick to their core concerns and not be diverted into a argument that is hardly core to the movement concerns. Nutritional benefits will always be hard to prove. The benefits to the environment, animal health and welfare, and world population health less so.’

    And this is from ‘Snapshackle’:
    Talk about ‘Junk Science’ this article is utter shite.

    1. Organic food has never been about nutrition. So the FSA set up a straw man and then knocked it down – Bravo. What this study does indicate is the extent to which the FSA is in the pocket of AgiBusiness.

    2. Organics always has been about pesticides, and the impact on the environment and humanity. Pesticides kill things (the clue is in the ‘cides bit). We hope that pesticides kill the bugs before they kill us. The fact of the matter is we have very little idea of the impact of artificially manufactured chemicals on the environment and humanity apart from in gross doses. (Only 3% of known chemicals are fully understood, which is why the EU enacted the REACH regulation) Having established that a lot of a chemical has a harmful effect we then set a ‘safe dose based on nothing more than supposition and assumption – we have no actual evidence that the dose quoted actually IS safe (all we know, is we as far as we are aware, no damage is being done – yet!). As science develops safe does are revised, usually downwards as we discover chemicals are actually more dangerous than we imagined.

    3. We have no idea about how chemicals interact with the environment and humans in combination, as one chemical may facilitate the unwanted effects of another.

    As Benko pointed out above: “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence”; and some would prefer to adopt the precautionary principle, since there is quite a lot of prima facie evidence about that pesticides do not do us a lot of favours.’
    …………………….

    So maybe lesson is that Soil Assoc.has been trying to sell the wrong message (individual health benefits) which while I believe this to be true in some although maybe not all cases, is really not the important thing and leads to various distractions. I think we can be sure that it is healthier to not consume pesticides though whatever happens.

    So the Soil Assoc.needs to stick to its core principles, which should be the greater good – the environment, wildlife, animal welfare, health of farmers. This would also hopefully shift some of the tired old arguments about organic food just being for selfish and stupid middle class people who only care about their little Freya and Alfie growing up healthy and no one else.

    Perhaps the Soil Assoc.has just tried to be all things to all people and got itself all tied up in its different strands.

    The whole concept of organic food has got really confused. Not helped that it was given a stupid name in the first place! The Soil Assoc also needs to be a lot clearer about the arguments for organic food in terms of the whole issue about whether or not it can feed the global population, and whether or not its better for the developing world, cos a whole lot of people think that those in favour of org.food are out to restrict and starve the dev.world.for the sake of their middle class beliefs.

    And also maybe we shouldnt associate the Soil Assoc and organic food too closely – it is not a perfect organisation.

    What also irritates me is all this mention of this ‘£2bn industry’, which gives the impression that organic food is making a few people filthy rich. The reality is that the organic industry, while it includes some big players, is more made up of lots and lots of little people, absolutely NOT getting rich in many cases for the sake of their principles and love of what they do.

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  22. Kano, are you the rapper of the same name?

    Like

  23. Hi Ingrid

    You put a smile on my face 🙂

    I am not the rapper, I am a surgeon, armature cook and a food blogger.

    My keyboard is all messed up due to a cat/yoghurt/laptop accident so the link to my blog was not working. I fixed that now so you can see who I am and what I do.

    Above all, I consider myself a man of science.

    Like

  24. Let’s remember that science can tell us nothing about the future, not the simple “what is the weather going to do” or the important “when am I going to die”.

    All science can show with any reliability is that everything we have believed in the past has been wrong!

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  25. Kano, I am glad you fixed your link – you have some great recipes for some of my favourite foods.

    Ingrid Rose, I too get irritated by the “£2 billion industry” tag. Firstly, as you say, most of the organic farmers and food-makers are small family businesses driven by the desire to produce real food in a sustainable way. Secondly, compared to the Big Food industry, £2 billion is nothing!

    As for “can organic feed the world?” again we need more research. Nevertheless most of the evidence shows organic practices – which are traditional, low-tech, sustainable and on-farm methods – are far more suited to the Majority World than industrial ones which tie farmers into debt and dependency with agricultural chemical companies – hence the high rate of farmers’ suicides in the Punjab, India.

    As author Colin Tudge points out: 0ver half the current 6 billion inhabitants of Planet Earth owe their existence to traditional farming – not industrial farming. “Even on these figures, it’s clear that agricultural industrial science did not rescue the human species like the US cavalry in the fifth reel. Modern industrial farming is the Johnny-come-lately,” he says.

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  26. @ real food love

    Sorry if I came across a bit of a snob. I didn’t mean to ridicule your opinion. Nobody have the right to take your experiences of life away from you. My point was exactly what the guy from the Guardian talked about. Everyone media and public alike kept repeating these empty claims.

    In reply to you last point, half of the planet inhabitant survived on traditional farming…

    Those 3 billions you are talking about don’t have the warm dry clean house me and you enjoy. Half of the world population survive on a less than a pound a day. People in Africa don’t have the luxury of choosing organic locally sourced food. All they can wish for is something to keep their babies alive.

    Organic food, like its cousin “fair trade” , is a way for us middle classes to feel better about ourselves. As if by buying a dirty carrot or an oddly shaped spud we do our share to help humanity and save the planet. I wish things are that simple.

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  27. “Organic food, like its cousin “fair trade” , is a way for us middle classes to feel better about ourselves. As if by buying a dirty carrot or an oddly shaped spud we do our share to help humanity and save the planet.”

    Your dismissal, I fear, is as oversimplified as the straw man you’ve set up to attack. Some of the complexities of sustainable food production are examined in a paper I presented at the Oxford Food Symposium a couple of years ago, “Eating the Earth” http://www.whitings-writings.com/eating_the_earth.htm

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  28. Hi Kano. As a person with social justice running in her veins, I am only too aware of the terrible disparity between poor and rich.

    Organic is not a middle-class lifestyle choice – it is the future of our planet! As John Whiting’s article shows, organic farming is less wasteful of resources than chemical farming, and far more sustainable for poor farmers.

    As for Ben Goldacre, I need to write a new blog to unpick all his arguments, but I will say one thing. He writes: “you [meaning the Soil Association] could at least start recruiting researchers now, using your £2bn, to investigate your beliefs with fair tests.”

    First of all, the £2bn is the total of organic food sales. It does not belong to the Soil Association.

    Secondly, I agree we need more research and fair tests. We already know that organic produce has more dry matter than non-organic produce because chemical fertilisers produce sappy growth. So we can rely on existing evidence PLUS our experience – AND want more research. It is not Either/Or as Ben Goldacre would have it.

    I am glad Ingrid-Rose made you smile.

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  29. “First of all, the £2bn is the total of organic food sales. It does not belong to the Soil Association.

    Secondly, I agree we need more research and fair tests. We already know that organic produce has more dry matter than non-organic produce because chemical fertilisers produce sappy growth. So we can rely on existing evidence PLUS our experience – AND want more research. It is not Either/Or as Ben Goldacre would have it. ”

    The double quote of the £2 billion figure at the beginning and the end of Goldacre’s article smacks of deliberate obfuscation — he well knows that this is a gross, not a net figure, and that it’s split among hundreds if not thousands of smallholders.

    As for research, I can’t emphasise too strongly that most of the research that actually gets carried out is financed by organizations that choose those projects that promise to yield the desired results. Therefore a summary such as the FSA’s, even if it’s accurate, will only yield an average of predetermined projects — money in, money out.

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  30. Re-reading Kano’s last comment, I want to add to my own: As I understand Colin Tudge, he is saying that organic (ie traditional/sustainable) farming has been feeding the world for ten thousand years, while industrial farming has only been around for the last 50 years.

    However, even though we now have industrial farming, the poor in the South are still starving, while the poor in the North suffer from obesity and diabetes.

    The problem is not organic farming which gives farmers an independent living – but distribution of resources.

    As for the North, cheap junk-food ‘fillers’ such as hydrogenated fat have significantly contributed to obesity. (Hydrogenated fat is banned from organic production because if it is a known health risk).

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  31. For a really in-depth look at the interrelatedness of diet and technology, look at Michael Pollan’s latest NY Times column, “Out of the Kitchen, Onto the Couch” http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/02/magazine/02cooking-t.html?scp=2&sq=pollan&st=cse

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  32. To support organic agriculture is not an individualistic middle class panacea, it is the future of farming. What is important about organic food, and why I will continue to buy it just as I will continue to recycle and reduce energy use whether or not I see a direct benefit to myself, is that it is an important part of working to provide a safer, more healthy environment. It does this by; 1) not polluting our groundwater, rivers, lakes, and oceans with pesticides and chemical fertilizers; 2) reducing soil erosion; 3) improving soil quality; 4) increasing the diversity of wildlife on and near farms; 5) not being dependent on fossil fuels. It also provides safer working conditions for farm labourers (no exposure to pesticides) and a quality of life for animals that can only be dreamed of by their deeply unfortunate, intensively farmed fellows. Intensive agriculture is unsustainable due to it’s overdependence on non-renewable fossil fuel energy in the form of synthetic nitrogen fertilizers, petroleum based agrochemicals, diesel powered machinery, refrigeration, irrigation and an oil dependent distribution system. Conventional agriculture needs to move on, for if it doesn’t, the resulting resource depletion and degradation will cause the food system to collapse if lack of oil doesn’t pip it to the post.

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  33. There is a myth that only chemical farming can produce the food we need. The University of Reading recently showed we would eat very well indeed in a 100% organic England and Wales.
    http://bit.ly/YLfV5

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  34. Sustainable agriculture, if it were to succeed, could not consist immediately of practices that would meet Soil Association standards, but would have to be the result of a gradual transformation. Economic forces will provide an incentive when fossil fuels become so expensive that industrial-scale farms start moving in an organic direction simply to stay solvent. They won’t become virtuous by argument any more than the banks have done.

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  35. Indeed, economics could become the driver because as oil prices rise, oil-based fertilisers will become too costly.

    Some farmers feeling the pinch are already looking at organic ways of feeding the soil, such as planting nitrogen-rich clover.

    Let us pray that economics drives us towards organics and not to the false god of GM, which is where I fear the latest concerns around food security may be heading….

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  36. That’s where the money will be driving us. Let’s hope that the farmers, including the megafarmers, will rebel against the industrial stranglehold that will continue to push up all their costs, including fertilizer and GM seeds as well as fuel.

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  37. James, thanks for trying to upload your disc that summarises the FSA report.

    Like

  38. James wrote a really useful Plain English review of the FSA studies. I am copying and pasting it here:

    The F.S.A. “Organic v. Conventional” food review in Plain English by James Bond
    ——————————————————————
    The Food Standards Agency commissioned two reports, published July 2009, both being internet searches for peer-reviewed articles in journals, having abstracts in english, from 1-1-1958 to 29-2-2008 for the Nutrient
    report, and to 15-9-2008 for the Health Effects report. But conference proceedings, even if peer-reviewed, were excluded as were articles about pesticide or herbicide contaminants, vetinary animal health, food production methods, effects on the environment, etc.

    The Health Effects report:
    From the 91,989 articles retrieved from the internet for the Health Effects report, excluding those not having a relevant health outcome or did not directly compare “organic” to “conventional”, left only 11 studies. Five of the 11 are “test-tube” studies of extracts added to cell cultures, three of these studies are of the effect on cancer cells of strawberries, red oranges and apples respectively; the other two
    are of the anti-oxidant potential of Cabernet Sauvignon red wine.

    Separately categorised were articles that did not clearly define “organic” type, amount, proportion or production method; the “statistical method” employed; or clearly state the health outcome. So only 3 of the 11 were considered high quality.

    Of the six human studies, all are very short term from 22 days down to 3 minutes apart from a 1 year study of the possible role of anti-oxidants in the prevention of eczema and wheezing in the 2,764 0-2 year old infants surveyed. There are 3 other anti-oxidant studies, of apples on 6 people, tomato puree on 20 people, one of grape juice and a 22-day dietary study of flavonoids and anti-oxidants on 16 people. One human study is of one dose only, and another is of two doses.

    Finally there is a study of the breast milk of 312 women who filled-in a dietary questionnaire in week 34 of pregnancy and at the time of breast-milk sampling.

    The F.S.A. concludes: quote “It is recommended that in future, high quality randomised controlled trials should be conducted which have samples of sufficient size to reliably detect the presence of effects, longer and more realistic dietary exposures, and more accurate and objective approaches to measuring dietary intake and health outcomes”

    The Nutrient Report:
    For the Nutrient report it is stated that the nutrient content of animal and plant foods depends on breed, age, fodder regime, cultivar, soil, growing conditions, season, etc then on post-harvest storage and method of food preparation.

    The internet search found 52,471 citations not including those concerned with contaminants such as cadmium, lead, mercury or pesticide residues. Then were excluded 145 not peer reviewed, those without an abstract in English, those not fully defining “nutrient” and those not directly comparing “organic” with “conventional.

    Eleven papers were excluded because the full text could not be obtained and others once the full text was read, together with those investigating the effects of fertiliser.

    This left only 162 studies to survey: 60 field trials, 76 taking samples from farms, 23 taking samples from retail shops and three a combination of these. However one fifth of the 162 studies failed to state the breed or variety and half failed to clearly define “organic”.
    So only 55 studies are of high quality.

    Because of the varied study designs and differing methods of reporting
    outcomes, the FSA report summaries the 162 studies by nutrient groups and substance, not by crop or animal product. Of the vitamins studies
    for only the vitamin C group and beta-carotene were located.

    A single species study is the subject of 129 reports and another 16 on at most three species. Thse include 19 on wheat or bread, 13 on
    tomatoes, 12 on milk or dairy, 11 on potatoes, 7 on peppers, 7 on chicken or eggs, 6 on grapes or wines, 6 on strawberries, and 5 each on
    lettuce, cabbage, carrots and apples.

    The purpose of many reports is to study only a single nutrient. The most studied were: Nitrogen (N) (45), Vitamin C (37), Phenols (34), Magnesium (30), Calcium (29), Phosphorus (P) (27), Potassium (K) (27), Zinc (25). Note however that N-P-K are usually regarded as fertiliser ingredients, NOT dietary desirables.

    Conclusion:
    The FSA findings conclude that high-quality research is lacking. Both of the reports sometimes found that organic was better, but “no difference” if only the highest quality relevant research is included. That being 3 papers out of 91,989 for the Health Effects report and 55 out of 52,471 for the Nutrient report.

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  39. Glad I came back to this site some new very interesting items which I wanted to know more about. Great work on your site.

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  40. Hi Backcare – I have also forwarded information on your interesting and useful website to a friend and fellow back sufferer!

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  41. Hello Elisabeth,

    Just wanted to say how much I have been enjoying your blog. I’ve left a little ‘thank you’ for you over at mine, if you want to come and take a look.

    Debora

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  42. Foodmag.com, Australia, reports:

    “A new report by the French Agency for Food Safety (AFSSA) has found organic foods are better for you and contain less pesticides and nitrates.

    The AFSSA study was published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Agronomy for Sustainable Development ensuring that it has met rigorous scientific standards.

    The major points of The French Agency for Food Safety study are:

    1. Organic plant products contain more dry matter (more nutrient dense)

    2. Have higher levels of minerals

    3. Contain more anti-oxidants such as phenols and salicylic acid (known to protect against cancers, heart disease and many other health problems)

    4. Organic animal products contain more polyunsaturated fatty acids (protect against heart disease)

    5. Carbohydrate, protein and vitamin levels are insufficiently documented

    6. 94–100% of organic foods do not contain any pesticide residues

    7. Organic vegetables contain far less nitrates, about 50% less (high nitrate levels are linked to a range of health problems including diabetes and Alzheimer’s)

    8. Organic cereals contain similar levels of mycotoxins as conventional ones

    In 2001, the French Agency for Food Safety (AFSSA) set up an expert working group to perform an exhaustive and critical evaluation of the nutritional and sanitary quality of organic food.

    The AFSSA says they aimed for the highest quality scientific standards during the evaluation. The selected papers referred to well-defined and certified organic agricultural practices, and had the necessary information on design and follow-up, valid measured parameters and the appropriate sampling and statistical analyses.

    After more than two years of work involving about 50 experts from all specific areas including organic agriculture, a final consensus report was issued in the French language in 2003.

    The current study published in the peer reviewed journal, in English, is a summary of this report and the relevant studies that have been published since 2003.

    The conclusions of this study are different from the recent UK Food Standard Agency Study that was widely criticised by international experts for using flawed methodology and a conclusion that contradicted its own data.”

    Thanks, Food Magazine.

    The full scientific report can be found at http://swroc.cfans.umn.edu/organic/ASD_Lairon_2009.pdf

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  48. Pingback: The more we hear, the less we like GM food « Real Food Lover

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