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Food Fight? Weighing In on the Benefits of Organic

PHOTO: Joe Pedretti
PHOTO: Joe Pedretti
September 17, 2012

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Much media attention has been given to the recent release of a Stanford University study that found little evidence of additional health benefits from organic foods. But other experts, including Joe Pedretti of the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES) say the study was flawed, and that a number of unknowns remain.

"We just don't know what happens in the human body when we're constantly exposed to multiple synthetic chemicals. And so, we tend to always say, 'Let's err on the side of precaution; let's keep this out of our food supply.'"

According to Pedretti, organic food does not contain additives, antibiotics, flavor enhancers, or artificial sweeteners or preservatives that have been linked to health problems. He also points out that organic growing helps reduce environmental contamination and the potential for antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Perry Clutts, who runs an organic dairy farm at Circleville, southeast of Columbus, says the Stanford study did not take into account the extensive and high-quality data easily available from the USDA and EPA about pesticide residue levels and dietary risks of non-organic foods.

"The President's council on cancer, you know, in 2010 reported that you can reduce your risk of cancer by eating foods that aren't sprayed with petrochemicals. That to me is a big health situation, considering how much cancer we have, in the country and in the world."

Besides the potential chemical exposure that consumers face, Clutts says, there may be greater risks for people on the production end of the food chain.

"It's not only on the food, but on the people who actually produce the food. They do have a great risk of exposure to these chemicals, when they are mixing tanks and doing a lot of this other stuff. And the thing is, we don't know what the long-term effects of that are going to be."

Another critique of the Stanford study is at ow.ly/dCLxd.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH