Research finds no evidence that organically grown food is more nutritious

There is no evidence to support the argument that organic food is more nutritious than food grown with the help of pesticides and other chemicals, new research in the latest issue of the Society of Chemical Industry's Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture has revealed.

The research, by Dr Susanne Bugel and colleagues from the University of Copenhagen's Department of Human Nutrition, shows that there is no clear evidence to back up the common belief that organic food is better for us.

The study used three cultivation methods to look at how animals fed on carrot, kale, mature pea, apple and potato crops retained minerals and trace elements.

The first cultivation method consisted of growing the vegetables on soil that had a low input of nutrients using animal manure and no pesticides - except for one organically approved product on kale only.

The second method involved applying a low input of nutrients using animal manure combined with pesticides (as much as allowed by regulation). The third method comprised a combination of a high input of nutrients through mineral fertilisers and pesticides (as much as is legally allowed).

The crops were grown on the same or similar soil on adjacent fields at the same time - and so they all experienced the same weather conditions. All were harvested and treated at the same time. In the case of the organically grown vegetables, all were grown on established organic soil.

After harvest, results showed that there were no differences in the levels of major and trace contents in the fruit and vegetables grown using the three different methods.

Produce from the organically and conventionally grown crops were then fed to animals over a two-year period, and intake and excretion of various minerals and trace elements were measured.

Once again, the results showed there was no difference in retention of the elements, regardless of how the crops were grown.

Bugel said: "No systematic differences between cultivation systems ... were found, so the study does not support the belief that organically grown foodstuffs contain more major and trace elements than (non-organic foods)."

Honorary secretary of the Society of Chemical Industry's BioResources Group Dr Alan Baylis added: "Modern crop-protection chemicals to control weeds, pests and diseases are extensively tested and stringently regulated, and once in the soil, mineral nutrients from natural or artificial fertilisers are chemically identical. Organic crops are often lower-yielding and eating them is a lifestyle choice for those who can afford it."


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