Comparisons of Nutrient Content and Health Effects of Organic foods to conventional Foods UK Food Standards Agency Studies NZSN Response
The New Zealand Society of Naturopaths disputes the conclusions of the recent studies commissioned by the UK Food Standards Agency into the Comparisons of Nutrient Content and Health Effects of Organic foods to conventionally produced foods. The conclusions of Food Standards Agency studies are that there are no differences between organically produced foods and conventionally produced foods in terms of beneficial nutrients and health.
The NZ Society of Naturopaths believes the FSA findings are likely to be incorrect.
The NZSN points out that the heath findings were based on only 11 studies, which the FSA authors acknowledge had a very small number of participants. The authors of the studies admitted that conclusions relate to the evidence base currently available, which contains limitations in the design and in the comparability of studies .
Neither FSA commissioned studies considered the levels of or effects on health of contaminants such as herbicide, pesticide and fungicide residues. The Naturopathic view is that the presence of such contaminants can have a detrimental effect on health.
The study admitted that some nutrients were found to be higher in organic produce such as magnesium, zinc and flavonoids. But the study stated that these had not been proven shown to have a positive effect on health and were unlikely to be low in a normal diet. However, many studies link low levels of these nutrients to poor health including cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes.
Some studies in the FSA research were not included including an important large study in Europe QualityLowInputFood (QLIF) which involved over 100 scientific papers. The QLIF study found levels of a range of nutritionally desirable compounds were shown to be higher in organic crops and levels of nutritionally undesirable compounds were shown to be lower in organic crops.
The FSA commissioned studies failed to highlight their findings that organic food contained higher quantities of many nutrients, for example
- Protein 12.7%
- Beta-carotene 53.6%
- Flavonoids 38.4%
- Copper 8.3%
- Magnesium 7.1%
- Phosphorous 6%
- Potassium 2.5%
- Sodium 8.7%
- Sulphur 10.5%
- Zinc 11.3%
- Phenolic compounds 13.2%
-Fatty acids, such as CLA and omega 3 were between 10 - 60% higher in organic milk and dairy products,
-Vitamin C were up to 90% higher in leafy vegetables and fruits.
-Polyunsaturated fatty acids in organic meat and dairy products (between 2.1% - 27.8% higher)