Wednesday, December 17, 2014

5 Studies That Link Science Behind the Benefits of Organic

Benefits to Public Health

A new study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health concluded that eating an organic diet can contribute to human well-being. The research was led by Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences-based Dr. Jan Johansson, who reviewed current research on the effect of organic agriculture and crops on public health.

Finding a clear health advantage of consuming organic, her team states that "both animal studies and in vitro studies clearly indicate the benefits of consumption of organically produced food instead of that conventionally produced."

The increased phenolic compounds and lower pesticide residues found in organic produce could partially account for these benefits, but the study also points out that the significant advantages of organic cannot be explained by these variables alone. Researchers suggest that synergistic effects between various constituents within organic food are likely to be part of the reason it's more beneficial to public health than conventional products.

Reduced Pesticide Exposure

A new study published in the journal Environmental Research found that eating an organic diet for a week can reduce a person's pesticide exposure. The research was led by Dr. Liza Oates, who examined pesticide metabolites in the urine of 13 individuals who consumed a diet of at least 80 percent organic over seven days, and conventional food for seven days.

Dr. Oates’ team found that the total pesticide metabolite levels were reduced by as much as 96 percent by eating organic, with an average reduction of 50 percent. This study shows that eating an organic diet can reduce exposure to chemicals that have been associated with health risks. As stated by Dr. Oates, “Recent studies have raised concerns for the health effects of these chemicals even at relatively low levels.”

It’s nice to see a study showing that choosing organic can make a significant difference in your exposure levels.

Nutritional Benefits

A new study published in the British Journal of Nutrition shows conclusive evidence that organic crops, and the food made from them, are healthier than their conventional counterparts. In this study, researchers conducted a meta-analysis on 342 peer-reviewed publications looking at the health benefits of organic agriculture and found that organic crops have higher antioxidant levels, lower cadmium levels and less pesticide residues than non-organic crops. They found that organic crops had significantly higher levels of antioxidants that have been linked to decreases in chronic disease risks such as cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative diseases and certain cancers.

The study also found fewer pesticide residues and lower toxic metal levels in organic versus conventional food, and organic crops had on average 48 percent lower cadmium levels than conventional crops. Cadmium is a highly toxic metal that can cause kidney failure, bone softening and liver damage. It can accumulate in the body, so even at low levels chronic exposure is dangerous. The findings of this study strongly support the health benefits of organic food.

Neonicotinoid Pesticides Linked to Honeybee Die-Off

A new study published in the Bulletin of Insectology by Harvard researchers found further evidence of the link between neonicotinoid use and Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), in which bees abandon their hives over the winter and eventually die.

This study was led by Professor Chensheng (Alex) Lu, an advisory board member for The Organic Center and associate professor of Environmental Exposure Biology at the Harvard School of Public Health. It supports his previous research, which found that 94 percent of hives exposed to low levels of the neonicotinoid imidacloprid died within 23 weeks of exposure. The new study added a second neonicotinoid called clothianidin to their observations. The researchers found that the same negative effects were associated with bee exposure to clothianidin as with imidacloprid. “We demonstrated again in this study that neonicotinoids are highly likely to be responsible for triggering CCD in honeybee hives that were healthy prior to the arrival of winter,” said Dr. Lu.

Organically Managed Soils Could Reverse Effects of Climate Change

The Rodale Institute has done some amazing science supporting the benefits of organic agriculture, and its new report, entitled “Regenerative Organic Agriculture and Climate Change,” maintains this high quality of investigation. The report takes an in-depth look at how farming systems affect greenhouse gas emission and illustrates the benefits that organic agriculture can have on climate change. Specifically, the publication focuses on the ability of soil to mitigate climate change when managed organically.

Findings include a decrease of annual greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent if management of all current cropland transitioned to regenerative organic agriculture. Transitioning global pasture would add to carbon sequestration by 71 percent. “We could sequester more than 100 percent of current annual CO2 emissions with a switch to widely available and inexpensive organic management practices,” the report states.

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