Organic foods not tastier or healthier: study
WELLINGTON (Reuters) - A review of international studies found no convincing evidence to back claims that organically grown foods were healthier or tastier than those grown using chemicals, New Zealand researchers said on Wednesday.
Diane Bourn, a food science lecturer at Otago University, said the bulk of around 100 reviewed studies--mainly from Europe, but with some from the United States and Australia--were poorly done.
The nutritional value of food was influenced by the time of harvest, freshness, storage and weather, but many studies claiming organic food had more vitamins and minerals did not take proper account of these factors, she said.
"To date, I feel there's no evidence that organic food is nutritionally superior," she said. "When you look at those studies in detail, they're actually pretty awful...they're not really strong enough to be able to say that convincingly."
The organic food sector has grown massively in recent years, accelerated by food scares, especially in Europe and Japan. The sector was recently valued by a new London-based organic produce exchange at $30 billion-plus a year, with organic produce usually commanding a premium in shops.
Organic producers avoid the use of artificial pesticides, fertilizers and herbicides. There are no fixed standards although a number of certification agencies monitor produce and some food authorities set organic produce rules.
Otago University was commissioned by state-owned science agency Crop & Food Research to carry out the study.
While there was a lot of anecdotal evidence about organic food tasting better than conventionally grown food, the studies reviewed could not conclusively back-up those claims, Bourn said.
However, she added, there were clear environmental benefits from growing organically and reduced pesticide residues in organics supported claims of improved food safety.
New Zealand food exports total $6 billion a year, the bulk of its total exports. Only a small fraction of the food exports are promoted as organic.
Ann's NOTE: Once again, a misleading title to this article (which we did NOT use for our coverage). All that is reported here is that the studies reviewed are not considered very good.
There is even a comment about "clear environmental benefits" from the use of less pesticides.
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