French Study Contradicts FSA’s Opinion on Organic Food Benefits

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A  report just published by the French Agency for Food Safety (AFSSA), the equivalent to the UK’s Food Standards Agency has described organic foods as being better for you,contain less pesticides and nitrates, both of which have been linked to a range of health problems including diabetes and Alzheimer’s.

This up-to-date exhaustive and critical evaluation of the nutritional quality of organic food  has found organic foods have higher levels of minerals and antioxidants, counter opposing the recent FSA report that questioned the benefits of growing and consuming organic foods.

Published in the peer reviewed journal Agronomy for Sustainable Development  this review carries substantive scientific opinion. It defines a number of advantages provided by the organic food production methods.

1. Organic plant products contain more dry matter (more nutrient dense)

2. Have higher levels of minerals

3. Contain more anti-oxidants such as phenols and salicylic acid (recognised to be important agents in disease prevention)

4. Organic animal products contain more polyunsaturated fatty acids (cardiovascular protective)

5. Carbohydrate, protein and vitamin levels are insufficiently documented

6. 94–100% of organic foods do not contain any pesticide residues

7. Organic vegetables contain far less nitrates, about 50% less

8. Organic cereals contain similar levels of mycotoxins as conventional ones

In 2001, the French Agency for Food Safety (AFSSA) set up an expert working group to perform an exhaustive and critical evaluation of the nutritional and sanitary quality of organic food.

The AFSSA says they aimed for the highest quality scientific standards during the evaluation. The selected papers referred to well-defined and certified organic agricultural practices, and had the necessary information on design and follow-up, valid measured parameters and the appropriate sampling and statistical analyses.

After more than two years of work involving about 50 experts from all specific areas including organic agriculture, a final consensus report was issued in the French language in 2003.

The current study published in the peer reviewed journal, in English, is a summary of this report and the relevant studies that have been published since 2003.

The conclusions of this study are different from the recent UK Food Standard Agency Study that was widely criticised by international experts for using flawed methodology and a conclusion that contradicted its own data.

Much of this commentary was selected from Food Magazine

Lairon D. Nutritional quality and safety of organic food. A review. Agron Sustain. Dev. (2009) DOI: 10.1051/agro/2009019 View Abstract View Article

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