According to the UK’s Food Standards Agency, and as gleefully reported today by the BBC, ‘Organic has no health benefits’, so we can all breath a sigh of relief and return to eating pesticide and chemical filled garbage. There’s probably no health benefits to unleaded paint then, eh? Any benefits left in quitting smoking? Do we even need to debunk this utter foolishness?
Personally, I wouldn’t expect an organic pepper to have significantly more nutrients than any other pepper, since they are usually not genetically engineered, though nutrient levels were the only factor in the study’s determinations. Turns out organic peppers do indeed have elevated nutrient levels, but not significantly elevated, according to the FSA. The health benefits of not ingesting a host of ingredients far too dangerous to be included in a child’s chemistry set is a glaring omission.
According to the study’s Executive Summary:
“This review does not address contaminant content (such as herbicide, pesticide and fungicide residues) of organically and conventionally produced foodstuffs or the environmental impacts of organic and conventional agricultural practices.”
And not all studies on organic and conventional practices were reviewed…
Articles were excluded if they:
- were not peer-reviewed
- did not have an English abstract
- did not address composition of nutrients and other substances
- did not present a direct comparison between organic and conventional production systems
- were primarily concerned with impact of different fertiliser (sic) regimes
- were primarily concerned with non-nutrient contaminant content (cadmium, lead and mercury)
- were authentication studies describing techniques to identify food production methods
In other words, only Western studies focused strictly on nutrient comparison were reviewed. That would seem to overlook many studies which might show organic food to be a much healthier option. It’s a safe bet that the overwhelming majority of the reviewed studies were the product of the traditional food industry.
Was the outcome of this study preordained? If you’re gonna talk health, why omit studying all the unhealthy stuff that the organic movement seeks to evade?
The study itself appears to come from the UK’s Food Standards Agency, which outsourced the analysis of about 50,000 papers published over the past 50 years to a group within the University of London’s London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), headed by Dr. Alan Dangour, nutrition specialist. A handful of University of London personnel are also credited, including Ricardo Uauy, M.D. Ph.D., Professor of Public Health Nutrition. Alan and Ricardo have co-published no less than 9 publications, in other words, they’re ‘tight’.
According to the Integrity in Science Database, Dr. Uauy has been a paid advisor to Unilever, Wyeth, Danone, DSM, Kellogg, Knowles and Bolton, Roche Vitamins Europe Ltd., and the International Copper Association. Probably not chicken feed either. My foray into research could very likely turn up Monsanto and/or its ilk lurking behind this study as well, had I the time.