The July 21, 2008, posting by Dr. Roy entitled “Whither organic food” is filled with misinformation. Here’s the real picture.
Products labeled as organic must be produced and processed following mandatory practices. Since national organic standards were fully implemented in October 2002, the term ‘organic’ has been clearly defined and federally regulated. What is voluntary is the use of the “USDA Organic” seal on products in which at least 95% percent of the ingredients are organic.
Taking food safety seriously is important for all food producers and handlers, whether organic or non-organic. There is no data linking organic products per se to outbreaks of disease.
Despite little money designated for organic research, there is mounting scientific evidence that organic produce contains higher levels of some nutrients than produce grown non-organically. For instance, findings published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry in July 2008 show organic blueberries contain higher levels of antioxidants than non-organically raised blueberries. Studies by scientists at the University of California at Davis found organic tomatoes offer nearly twice the number of health-promoting flavonoids than non-organic tomatoes.
In addition, there is evidence that exposure to pesticides has serious health implications, particularly for pregnant women and young children. Studies at the University of Washington in Seattle have found organophosphorus (OP) pesticide residues in the urine of children eating non-organic produce. These residue levels disappeared when the children switched to eating organic. Other studies have indicated that chronic low-level exposure to OP pesticide residues may adversely affect neurological function, neurodevelopment, and growth in children.
Yes, all milk contains hormones. However, organic farmers do not use synthetic growth hormones in organic milk production. There is evidence suggesting that the use of synthetic growth hormones, such as rBGH in dairy cows, can be detrimental both to human and animal health. Many countries in the world ban its use for that very reason.
Given the wealth of misinformation that is circulated about organic, it is no surprise that people like Dr. Roy question whether its benefits outweigh its costs. For people who really want the facts, visit http://www.ota.com/.