Organic food not healthier, study finds

Thu Jul 30, 2009 1:38pm EDT
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LONDON (Reuters) - Organic food has no nutritional or health benefits over conventionally produced food, according to a major study published on Wednesday.

Its conclusions were challenged by organic food campaigners.

Researchers from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine said consumers paid higher prices for organic food in part because of its perceived health benefits, creating a global organic market worth an estimated $48 billion in 2007.

A systematic review of 162 scientific papers published in the scientific literature over the last 50 years, however, found there was no significant difference.

"A small number of differences in nutrient content were found to exist between organically and conventionally produced foodstuffs, but these are unlikely to be of any public health relevance," said Alan Dangour, one of the report's authors.

"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."

The results of research, which was commissioned by the British government's Food Standards Agency, were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Peter Melchett, policy director of Britain's Soil Association, which promotes organic farming, said he was disappointed by the conclusions reached by the study's authors.

He criticized the methodology of the study, which he said had led researchers to reject some clear nutritional benefits as "not important."   Continued...

<p>Organic vegetables are shown at a Whole Foods Market in LaJolla, California in this May 13, 2008 file photo. REUTERS/Mike Blake</p>