There are no important advantages in terms of health and nutritional benefits gained from eating organic food when compared to food produced using conventional techniques, says the UK’s Food Standards Authority (FSA), with the recent publication of a scientific study.
Dr. Alan Dangour, the leader of the research team and principle author of the paper, said that “a small number of differences in nutrient content were found to exist between organically and conventionally produced crops and livestock, but these are unlikely to be of any public health relevance.”
The report further concludes that “because of the limited and highly variable data available…there is currently no evidence of a health benefit from consuming organic compared to conventionally produced foodstuffs.”
According to the FSA, who commissioned the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) to carry out the research, a “systematic review of literature” was conducted of all the papers published over the past 50 years that related to the nutritional and health differences between organic and conventional food.
Noticeably, the study does not include any data on pesticides, but the FSA explains this is because pesticides are already assessed and their levels are monitored, and that the use alone of “pesticides in either organic or conventional food production does not pose an unacceptable risk to human health.”
A recent monitoring report found traces of pesticides in organic food products for the first time, challenging public perceptions that organic products are free of synthetic plant protection products (EURACTIV, 10/07/09).
The FSA emphasises that the research reflects its commitment to “giving consumers accurate information about their food, based on the most up-to-date science.”
However, the report came under strong criticism from The Organic Center (TOC), an American-based NGO, which claimed the report “downplayed positive findings in favor of organic food.”
In a paper published in March 2008 a team led by the TOC’s Chief Scientist Charles Benbrook investigated whether organic plant-based foods have greater health benefits than those produced from conventional crops, and found that they are, “on average, more nutritious.”