Last week, a Stanford University study was published which got way more press that one would expect. For example, you can read one article written just after the study’s release in the New York Times: Stanford Scientists Cast Doubt on Advantages of Organic Meat and Produce.

Essentially, the study claims that organic products are not more nutritious than conventionally produced foods. If one reads the news coverage, much is made of this in the headlines, especially, making one wonder what the media’s motives were. Deeper reading of the articles reveal that the researchers admitted that there are exceptions to their results. That doesn’t make up for the study’s flaws, however.

Now, a good friend of mine who works for the USDA Extension Service and who will remain nameless, gleefully posted

Crop dusting gets on your fod and drifts where it doesn't belong, not that it belongs anywhere

Crop dusting gets on your food and drifts where it doesn’t belong, not that it belongs anywhere. Also gets into soil, groundwater, river and streams and the ocean, not to mention your food. Yep, organic MUST be better than this.

this on his Facebook page. Even though it was immediately clear that there are many flaws in both the study claims and the overall impression given that “organic is no better than conventional,” I refrained from posting a rebuttal on his page. I love the guy and I sometimes think I go too far in criticizing his blind worship of industrial agriculture.

I was planning to write a blog entry refuting the study for a number of reasons and am doing so now. But, what has been surprising is the outpouring of articles critical of this study, first on the Internet (as always), then finally being picked up by the mainstream media, including, again, the New York Times.

So, before I get into my own personally developed reasons why this study is meaningless and misleading, therefore dangerous, let’s take a look at some of this outpouring of indignation.

One article, Stanford Study Scientist Accused of False Research On Organic Food, claims the “study” was published just in time to support efforts to defeat the upcoming vote on labeling genetically engineered foods in California, Proposition 37. The article also says,

According to Adams and Gucciardi, one of the study’s co-authors, Dr. Ingram Olkin, reportedly has a history of supporting Big Tobacco companies. The two discovered that in the 1970s, Olkin developed an algorithm known as “Dr. Ingram Olkin multivariate Logistic Risk Function” that they claim could bend the truth with statistical models. It was a scientific tool relied upon by big tobacco companies to nullify tobacco industry whistleblowers “and ultimately supported the quack science front to reject any notion that cigarettes might harm human health.”

Factory egg farming, chickens can't move and never see daylight, not to mention breathing fecal dust all day

Factory egg farming, chickens can’t move and never see daylight, not to mention breathing fecal dust all day

Other articles do not attack the researchers, per se, but simply point out the flaws, in this case, the numerous studies demonstrating that many foods, from eggs to meat to tomatoes, have been determined via rigorous academic study, to be better for you nutritionally than industrialized vegetable and fruit, as well as factory farmed meat. Just recently, I reported on a study that demonstrated that organic tomatoes are better than conventionally grown, Organic tomatoes proven better than conventional.

This is a study that never should have seen the light of day. I would love to know who funded this research and what the peer reviewers at the Annals of Internal Medicine, the journal that published the study, were thinking.

Even if organic foods were no more nutritious than conventionally produced foods, that does not make them better. Consider the following, which are my reasons why organic is better:

  • there are numerous studies that demonstrate that organic foods ARE more nutritious than conventional
  • organic foods do not have pesticide, herbicide, fungicide, and other -cide residue on or in the food
  • conventional agriculture is the single most polluting industry on the planet. Hard to believe that our food production causes more pollution than anything else. Pretty sad and one day it will destroy us
  • genetically engineered crops, an integral part of conventional agriculture require more herbicides, create super pests that require new and more toxic pesticides, and take control out of the hands of farmers and put it into the hands of the seed producers who own the patents, like Monsanto
  • factory meat farming is cruel and results in very inferior meat and dairy products. I will write more on this topic at a later time. One example, factory farm produced eggs are bad for you; free-range eggs are good for you.

There are more reasons we need to return to traditional means of production, but the above will suffice for now. I just wish my friend had the intestinal fortitude to publish all the press about how screwed up this study is.


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