Organic Center Releases Two New State of Science Reviews
That Confirm the Benefits of Organic
Reduction in pesticide risk and increased nutrients are two of the most
talked about benefits of organic. Making the case even stronger, The
Organic Center has now taken published data on these topics and created
two state of science reviews that boil all of it down to the hard facts.
Increased Nutritional Content
Organic produce has on average 25 percent more key nutrients than
conventional versions according to The Organic Center’s report, “New
Evidence Confirms Nutritional Superiority of Plant-Based Organic Food.”
This is the first major, in-depth review of the published scientific literature
on the nutritional benefits of organic food completed since 2003. Since
then, over 40 new studies have come out on this subject, bringing the
total number up to over 100.
The two-year project leading to this report required the creation of a
database to compare the results of these studies, as well as the development of methods to identify those studies that were both well-designed
and carefully conducted. From these studies, there were 236 scientifically
valid “matched pairs” of measurements that include an organic and a conventional sample of a given food.
Using only studies that stood up to 17 different screens and selection
criteria, the review compared levels of 11 nutrients in both organic and
conventional including four measures of antioxidants (total phenolics,
total antioxidant capacity, quercetin, kaempferol), three precursors of key
vitamins (vitamins A, C, and E), two minerals (potassium and phosphorous), nitrates and total protein.
The magnitude of the differences in nutrient levels strongly favored
the organic samples. Across all 236 matched pairs and 11 nutrients, the
nutritional premium of the organic food averaged 25 percent.
Organic samples contained higher concentrations of the very important polyphenols
and antioxidants in about three-quarters of
the 59 matched pairs representing those phy-tonutrients. Increasing intakes of these nutrients is a vital goal to improve public health
since daily intakes of antioxidants and
polyphenols are less than one-half of recommended levels.
Matched pairs involving comparisons of
potassium, phosphorous, and total protein levels accounted for over three-quarters of the
cases in which the conventional samples were
nutritionally superior. A positive finding of
these three nutrients is of lesser importance
than the other eight nutrients because, in general, these nutrients are adequately supplied in
the average American diet.
Over the next few years another 20 to 30
studies will likely be completed and published.
The Organic Center will add the results of
these studies to their database and over time
the Center’s database will grow to the point
where we can explore linkages between specific organic and conventional production practices and the nutrient density of foods.
Decreased Pesticide Risk
In addition, The Organic Center recently
released a historic report that concludes converting the nation’s eight million acres of produce farms to organic would reduce pesticide
dietary risks by about 97 perc ent.
In “Simplifying the Pesticide
Risk Equation: The Organic
Option,” Dr. Charles Benbrook,
the Organic Center’s chief scientist, based his conclusion on
estimates on up-to-date pesticide residue data from the
U.S. Department of
Agriculture, and the
Agency’s current methods The Center created this
consumer guide based
for estimating pesticide on the report’s findings.