Los Angeles, July 30: Eating organic food can do no wonders for the human health, a major review of research findings over 50 years has signaled Wednesday. Organic food has no nutritional or health benefits over conventionally produced foods, the review has suggested.
Organic food refers to crops or livestock that are grown in farms under natural conditions, without the use of inorganic fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides. Such foods are raised without chemicals and processed without additives.
Advocated of the organic food claim that it is more nutritious, safer to eat, and usually tastes better because it contains no conventional non-organic pesticides, insecticides and herbicides, fertilizers, hormones, medicated feed, or antibiotics or chemicals used in food processing.
Organic food no healthier
Contrary to that popular belief, the British review of studies done over the past five decades has asserted that organic foods aren't nutritionally superior to their conventionally produced foods, suggesting that both types of foods have about the same nutrient content thus neither is better in terms of health benefits.
For the study, lead researcher Alan Dangour, a registered public health nutritionist with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and colleagues researched more than 50,000 papers and zeroed in on 162 relevant studies that dealt with the nutrient content of organically and conventionally produced crops and livestock products.
After a systematic review of 162 scientific papers, commissioned by Britain's Food Standards Agency, Dangour and co-researchers found hat organic food is neither healthier nor more nutritional than food raised conventionally.
"We did not find any important differences in nutrient content between organically and conventionally produced foods," said Dangour. "A small number of differences in nutrient content were found to exist between organically and conventionally produced foodstuffs, but these are unlikely to be of any public health relevance."
"Our review indicates that there is currently no evidence to support the selection of organically over conventionally produced foods on the basis of nutritional superiority," Dangour concluded.
Reaction to the review
Meanwhile, the advocated of organic foods have opposed the latest findings of the review, saying the study misses the major points about why organic foods continue to grow in popularity or why consumers are increasingly turning to foods grown without chemicals or drugs.
Responding to the study findings, Brian Todd, president of the Food Institute, an Elmwood Park, N.J.-based trade association, said: "The lack of non-organic chemicals and pesticides on organic foods is what the appeal is."
"We don't dispute what they found. We don't make health claims based on the nutrition of organic food. But we are saying they contain less of the things that might hurt, like chemicals," Laura Telford, national director of Canadian Organic Growers, is quoted by The National Post as saying. "You can make credible claims about the benefits of organic food without saying they are nutritionally superior."
The study was commissioned by the British government's Food Standards Agency and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Organic produce is now available in many food outlets, including major supermarket chains. Organic food is generally more expensive, costing 10 to 40 percent more than similar conventionally produced products, because organic farming requires more manual labor and attention.
Despite being expensive, organic foods have become steadily more popular, especially in Western countries, as the people have become more concerned about health risks associated with chemicals in food products.