I first heard about a new Stanford “study” downplaying the value of organics when this blog headline cried out from my inbox: “Expensive organic food isn’t healthier and no safer than produce grown with pesticides, finds biggest study of its kind.”
Does the actual study say this?
No, but authors of the study — “Are Organic Foods Safer or Healthier Than Conventional Alternatives? A Systematic Review” — surely are responsible for its misinterpretation and more. Their study actually reports that ¨Consumption of organic foods may reduce exposure to pesticide residues and antibiotic-resistant bacteria.”
The authors’ tentative wording — “may reduce” — belies their own data: The report’s opening statement says the tested organic produce carried a 30 percent lower risk of exposure to pesticide residues. And, the report itself also says that “detectable pesticide residues were found in 7% of organic produce samples…and 38% of conventional produce samples.” Isn’t that’s a greater than 80% exposure reduction?
In any case, the Stanford report’s unorthodox measure “makes little practical or clinical sense,” notes Charles Benbrook — formerly Executive Director, Board on Agriculture of the National Academy of Sciences: What people “should be concerned about [is]… not just the number of [pesticide] residues they are exposed to” but the “health risk they face.” Benbrook notes “a 94% reduction in health risk” from pesticides when eating organic foods.
Assessing pesticide-driven health risks weighs the toxicity of the particular pesticide. For example the widely-used pesticide atrazine, banned in Europe, is known to be “a risk factor in endocrine disruption in wildlife and reproductive cancers in laboratory rodents and humans.”
“Very few studies” included by the Stanford researchers, notes Benbrook, “are designed or conducted in a way that could isolate the impact or contribution of a switch to organic food from the many other factors that influence a given individual’s health.” They “would be very expensive, and to date, none have been carried out in the U.S.” [emphasis added].
In other words, simple prudence should have prevented these scientists from using “evidence” not designed to capture what they wanted to know.
Read more.. http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/09/06-12