I first heard this report (delivered in a snide way by one of my least favorite announcers) on NPR this morning. Of course they didn't bother with any analysis on the ways in which this study is flawed.
These quotes from the NYTimes.
Stanford University scientists have concluded:
that fruits and vegetables labeled organic were, on average, no more nutritious than their conventional counterparts, which tend to be far less expensive. Nor were they any less likely to be contaminated by dangerous bacteria like E. coli.Buried in the NYTimes article at the bottom there are some feeble questions about methodology, but many errors can occur when combining (and evidently cherry-picking) studies and lumping them together.
A favorite technique of "the big lie" is to combine statistics of different independent items to make a fuzzy statistical mean, and while I've not read this report, it does seem to gloss over advantages from organics like lower pesticide levels in children, the fact that pesticides have been linked to lower IQ in elementary children, less antibiotics and antibiotic resistant bacteria in foods and completely ignoring the creation of the Swine Flu in a large scale animal confinement facility.
(more below the orange pasta)
Apparently the Stanford study was about the level of "nutrition" in organics vs. (in-organics?) "conventionally" produced food.
From the bottom of the article:
The argument that organic produce is more nutritious “has never been major driver” in why people choose to pay more, said Ms. Lunder, the Environmental Working Group analyst.There are many, MANY reasons to reduce the pesticide, hormone, and antibiotic use in the production of food. Everything from reducing the dependence upon oil (fertilizer, anyone?), destruction to pollinators (does anyone like bees?), fostering of antibiotic resistance writ large, incredible toxic waste from pig farms, dead zones at the end of the Mississippi river, vitamin content in food, not to mention that "conventional" food can taste like crap, this is a lousy study.
Rather, the motivation is to reduce exposure to pesticides, especially for pregnant women and their young children. Organic food advocates point to, for example, three studies published last year, by scientists at Columbia University, the University of California, Berkeley, and Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan. The studies identified pregnant women exposed to higher amounts of pesticides known as organophosphates and then followed their children for years. In elementary school, those children had, on average, I.Q.’s several points lower than those of their peers.
This is a bad study masquerading as news. While the authors say they've avoided industry money to avoid the appearance of bias, there are so many factual omissions as well as evidence of cherry picking (they "neglected" to include a study showing high vitamin C levels in strawberries, as just one example), I am disgusted.
Looks like somebody is doing "publish or perish" with whatever will stick to the wall. (sorry for the mixed metaphor)