Organic Foods – a Pro & Con take

Con: http://www.realclearscience.com/articles/2012/09/05/science_debunks_the_organic_fantasy_garden_106363.html

” On the whole, science has soured on the promises of organic food. While it is good practice not to use antibiotics in livestock feed, the rest of the claims made by the “natural food movement” simply don’t hold up to scientific scrutiny. Organic farmers and ranchers are not saving the world, one apple and one pasture at a time. So, don’t buy into the scare tactics or the bromides.

Instead, it is time to face up to reality: If you’re a regular organic shopper, you’ve been duped.

Dr. Alex B. Berezow is the editor of RealClearScience and holds a Ph.D. in microbiology. Tom Hartsfield is a physics Ph.D. candidate at the University of Texas and a regular contributor to the RealClearScience Newton Blog”

Pro:

http://www.naturalnews.com/037065_organic_foods_mainstream_media_psyop.html

(NaturalNews) If you read the mainstream news headlines today, you might be shocked to see headlines that say things like, “Organic foods no healthier than conventional foods” or “Organic foods may not be healthier for you.” You’ll see these headlines all across the usual disinfo outlets: NPR, Associated Press, Reuters, Washington Post, WebMD and elsewhere.

The problem with these headlines is that they are flatly false. The study these news outlets are quoting actually confirms that organic foods are far healthier for you than conventional foods.

So how is the mainstream media lying about this? By fudging the facts, of course.

For starters, the “study” isn’t even a study. It was just a review of other studies. No new laboratory analysis was done whatsoever!

The “review” was conducted at Stanford University and published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. You can read the abstract here:
http://annals.org/article.aspx?articleid=1355685

As the study itself concludes:

• Exposure to chemical pesticides was significantly lower in organic foods (roughly 30% less than conventional foods).

• Exposure to “superbugs” in meat (antibiotic-resistant bacteria) was also significantly lower in organic foods (roughly a 33% risk difference).

• The study conclusion says, right out, that “Consumption of organic foods may reduce exposure to pesticide residues and antibiotic-resistant bacteria.”

How the media lied

Somehow, the mainstream media took this study and then lied to their readers, claiming organic food is “no different” than conventional food. That is a flat-out lie, of course. Because it fails to mention all the following:

• GMOs are not allowed in organic foods. So GMO exposure is many orders of magnitude higher in conventional foods, where GMOs are commonplace.

• Artificial chemical sweeteners are not allowed in organic foods. But conventional foods are often sweetened with toxic chemicals such as aspartame or saccharin.

• The study completely failed to look at the use of genetically-modified bovine growth hormones (rBGH) in conventional milk versus organic milk.

• The environmental impact of conventional food production is devastating to the planet. Chemical pesticides aren’t just found in the crops; they also run off into the streams, rivers and oceans. No mainstream media article that covered this story even bothered to mention this hugely important issue — it’s one of the primary reasons to buy organic!

• The funding source of the study is listed as “None.” Does anybody really believe that? All these scientists supposedly volunteered their time and don’t get paid to engage in scientific endeavors? It’s absurd. The money for the study had to come from somewhere, and the fact that the Annals of Internal Medicine is hiding the source by listing “none” is just further evidence of scientific wrongdoing.

A total psyop to confuse the public and push GMOs

Ultimately, this study comes down to being a total psyop pushed by the mainstream media for the purpose of confusing the public and ultimately promoting GMOs.

The media’s coverage of this is pure disinfo along the lines of other health disinfo campaigns such as:

• Mercury in vaccines is actually GOOD for you and makes vaccines work better:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kyR2XeLjYTU

etc. etc.
Sep 7th update:
“Organic is a fable of the pampered parts of the planet — romantic and comforting. Now, thanks to Stanford researchers, we know just how replete with myth the “O” fable is.”
“Is organic food little more than a trumped-up marketing scheme, another way for affluent consumers to waste money? A just-released paper by Stanford University researchers—and the reaction to it by the media—suggests as much. (Abstract here; I have a copy of the full study, but can’t upload it for copyright reasons.)

“Stanford Scientists Cast Doubt on Advantages of Organic Meat and Produce,” declared a New York Times headline. “Organic food hardly healthier, study suggests,” announced CBS News. “Is organic healthier? Study says not so much, but it’s key reason consumers buy,” the Washington Post grumbled.

In reality, though, the study in some places makes a strong case for organic—though you’d barely know it from the language the authors use. And in places where it finds organic wanting, key information gets left out. To assess the state of science on organic food and its health benefits, the authors performed what’s known among academics as a “meta-analysis”—they gathered all the research papers they could find on the topic dating back decades, eliminated ones that didn’t meet their criteria for scientific rigor, and summarized the results.

In another post I’ll get to the question of nutritional benefits—the idea, expressed by the Stanford authors, that organic and conventional foods are roughly equivalent in terms of vitamins and other nutrients. What I want to discuss now is the problem of pesticide exposure, and why I think the Stanford researchers are underestimating the risks.

 

In short, the authors’ findings confirm what the Environmental Working Group, crunching USDA data, has been telling us for years: that organic fruits and vegetables harbor significantly fewer pesticide residues than their chemically grown peers. Summing up the evidence of the studies they looked at, the Stanford researchers find what they call a 30 percent “risk difference” between organic and conventional food—which to the mind not trained in statistics, sounds like organic foods carry 30 percent less risk of exposing you to pesticides. And they immediately undercut that finding by noting that the pesticide traces found in both organic and conventional food tend to be at levels lower than the Environmental Protection Agency’s maximum allowed limits. Takeaway: Conventional produce carries trivially small levels of pesticides, and you might as well save your money and forget organic.

What’s wrong with this comforting picture?

1. Conventional produce is much worse than organic on the pesticide-exposure question than the 30 percent number suggests. That’s what Chuck Benbrook, research professor at Washington State University’ Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources, shows in a detailed critique of the study. To get the 30 percent number, the authors used an odd statistical construct they call “risk difference.” By their method, if 5 percent of organic vegetables contain at least one pesticide trace and 35 percent of conventional vegetables contain at least one trace, then the “risk difference” is 30 percent (35 minus 5). But that’s a silly way of thinking about it, because there’s a much greater difference between those numbers than “30 percent” suggests. Crunching the authors’ own raw data, Benbrook finds “an overall 81% lower risk or incidence of one or more pesticide residues in the organic samples compared to the conventional samples.”

But even that doesn’t get to the full extent of the study’s underestimation, since:

2. To arrive at their “risk difference” metric, the authors didn’t distinguish between a single pesticide trace and multiple traces; or between light traces and heavier traces. For their purposes, an organic apple carrying a tiny residue of a relatively innocuous pesticide is equivalent to a conventional apple containing a cocktail of several relatively toxic pesticides. Here’s Benbrook on why that’s silly:

a) most residues in organic food occur at much lower levels than in conventional food, b) residues are not as likely in organic foods, c) multiple residues in a single sample are rare in organic food but common in conventional produce, and d) high-­risk pesticides rarely appear as residues in organic food, and when they do, the levels are usually much lower than those found in conventional food (especially the levels in imported produce).

Now, the authors might reply that all of this is trivial, because the traces that researchers find on produce, whether conventional or organic, almost always come in at levels below the EPA’s safety threshold. But:

3. This ignores a growing body of research that pregnant women’s fetuses can be harmed at low exposures of organophosphate pesticides, as can young children.

And what’s more:

4. The authors—like the EPA itself—ignore the “cocktail effect” of exposure to several pesticides, say, from a single apple. As Environmental Working Group’s analysis of USDA data shows, conventional produce like apples, blueberries, and bell peppers often carry traces of many pesticides. The EPA regulates pesticide traces only on an individual basis, disregarding possible synergistic effects. The European Commission is starting to take them more seriously. Here’s a report commissioned by the European Commission in 2009:

There is a consensus in the field of mixture toxicology that the customary chemical-by-chemical approach to risk assessment might be too simplistic. It is in danger of underestimating the risk of chemicals to human health and to the environment.

Which brings us to the fifth point:

5. We probably know more about how exposure to low levels of multiple pesticides affect amphibians than we do about how they affect people—and what our amphibious friends are telling us isn’t pretty.

In short, the Stanford study seriously underplays the benefit of going organic to avoid pesticide traces, especially for vulnerable populations like pregnant women and kids. In a future post, I’ll show why it does the same for exposure to antibiotic-resistant pathogens in meat, and doesn’t give organic its due with regard to nutritional benefits.”

Abstract of study (not publicly available) here: http://annals.org/article.aspx?articleid=1355685
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