Organics has no health benefits - FSA Organic Food Review

An independent review commissioned by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) shows that there are no important differences in the nutrition content, or any additional health benefits, of organic food when compared with conventionally produced food. The focus of the review was the nutritional content of foodstuffs.

Gill Fine, FSA Director of Consumer Choice and Dietary Health, said: ‘Ensuring people have accurate information is absolutely essential in allowing us all to make informed choices about the food we eat. This study does not mean that people should not eat organic food. What it shows is that there is little, if any, nutritional difference between organic and conventionally produced food and that there is no evidence of additional health benefits from eating organic food.

'The Agency supports consumer choice and is neither pro nor anti organic food. We recognise that there are many reasons why people choose to eat organic, such as animal welfare or environmental concerns. The Agency will continue to give consumers accurate information about their food based on the best available scientific evidence.’

The study, which took the form of a ‘systematic review of literature’, was carried out by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM). LSHTM’s team of researchers, led by Alan Dangour, reviewed all papers published over the past 50 years that related to the nutrient content and health differences between organic and conventional food. This systematic review is the most comprehensive study in this area that has been carried out to date.

The FSA commissioned this research as part of its commitment to giving consumers accurate information about their food, based on the most up-to-date science.

This research was split into two separate parts, one of which looked at differences in nutrient levels and their significance, while the other looked at the health benefits of eating organic food. A paper reporting the results of the review of nutritional differences has been peer-reviewed and published today by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Dr Dangour, of the LSHTM’s Nutrition and Public Health Intervention Research Unit, and the principal author of the paper, said: ‘A small number of differences in nutrient content were found to exist between organically and conventionally produced crops and livestock, 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.’

Download the report from here

Read coverage from the BBC here and the Soil Association here

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Comment by Neil Lovelock on August 3, 2009 at 8:29am
Really interesting article in my local Sunday paper - The Sunday Herald - claims that over half the fruit and veg we eat is contaminated with toxic pesticides - shock - horror - not!!
Comment by Hester on July 30, 2009 at 8:56pm
I agree-soil conditions are very variable Food grown with attention to nutrient quality by attending to soil deficiencies will be betterAnd the best way to build healthy soil is with organic processes as well, because healthy soil needs living systems..Even if there were no difference in nutrients I would still eat organic.A big consideration for me has always been to avoid toxic residues from sprays etc .Plus the effect of non-organic agriculture and related industries on the environment.It's a much more holistic picture. than just one aspect addressed in such a study.
Comment by Neil Lovelock on July 30, 2009 at 8:21pm
Hi Robbie - I totally agree - I think the other two factros they may have overlooked is whether it's local produce and what condition the soils were in in the first place - if they are looking at imported organic produce then it doesn't measure up to loal seasonal produce - also the soils have been abused for so long it is going to take a while to re-build them so organic can only get better as we move forward

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