The timing of Stanford's study on organic food declaring that organic food is not necessarily healthier for you is questionable given the current ballot initiative to pass Proposition 37 to label genetically modified foods.
So, why the sudden concerted effort to "debunk" organics? Could it be that the health benefits of an organic diet threaten the profits of one or more big industries, and that these benefits are considered "inconvenient truths" that need to be quenched? An OpEdNews piece15 revealed one of the co-authors is a former researcher with the Tobacco Institute. Michael Collins writes:
"The study relied on a statistical technique called meta-analysis... The article co-author with recognized expertise in meta-analysis, Ingram Olkin, applied for a grant from Council of Tobacco Research (CTR) in 1976. CTR was part of the infamous Tobacco Institute, an industry group of cigarette manufacturers. Ingram was on the faculty of Stanford University at the time."
He goes on to state that Olkin's work for the Tobacco Institute is discussed in Robert N. Proctor's 2012 Google eBook, Golden Holocaust: Origins of the Cigarette Catastrophe and the Case for Abolition.16 It's quite telling, if you understand the implications:
"...The most notorious were the so-called Special Projects – typically projects that had been turned down by the CTR's Scientific Advisory Board, or were not expected to qualify for such funding, or were simply hatchet jobs commissioned by the lawyers to deconstruct inconvenient science. The Special Projects helped provide a platform for the industry's obfuscatory propaganda...
Special Project (SP) 109, for example, begun in 1965. Involved a 'collection of cases of emphysema among nonsmokers and among young people.' SP-12 investigated the possibility of 'additional statistical studies... which showed no association between smoking and lung cancer.' ...Dozens of such projects had been launched by the mid-1960s, all shielded from ordinary scrutiny, peer review, or disclosure – and often dealing with 'hot topics' the industry didn't want to see publicized...
Many of these were deliberate hatchet jobs. To me, it seems quite clear that this is part of a much larger, concerted effort to discredit organics, in order to clear a path for more controlled agricultural methods, with genetically engineered foods as the ultimate goal. But first, they have to make you think you're not getting anything "extra" by purchasing organics; that you're essentially just wasting your money.
There are also ties between Stanford University in general and Monsanto – the leader in genetically engineered seeds, and the driving force behind the opposition to GE food labeling. This could be of interest, considering the fact that the authors claim no primary source of funding whatsoever...
The link between Monsanto and Stanford is discussed by Nicholas Tomasi20, who raises questions about the influence of George H. Poste, a Monsanto board member and a Distinguished Fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution (a public policy think-tank). Poste is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and in the wake of 9/11 he became the chairman of the task force on bioterrorism for the U.S. Department of Defense; a position he retained until May 2004.
He's currently a member of the Threat Reduction Advisory Committee for the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, as well as a member of the National Academy of Sciences Working Group on Biological Weapons, the Forum on Microbial Threats of the Institute of Medicine Board on Global Health.
All of that is a mouthful, but again, it demonstrates the many diverse ties between Stanford University, biosecurity, Monsanto, and the shaping of public policy...
Of course, I have nothing to tie Poste to this study. But it's interesting to note nonetheless how Monsanto typically ends up being in the periphery whenever organics come under fire.
Many Studies Show Organic Foods are More Nutritious
So, will reducing your intake of pesticides have a beneficial impact on your health? Most likely, yes. Unfortunately, creative interpretation and linguistic gymnastics turned Stanford's incriminating findings into an attack on organics... On the upside, health-conscious people everywhere are seeing right through it, and a number of independent news sources have issued thought-provoking rebuttals. For example, NewHope360 writes:8
"...Stanford researchers failed to review reports not written in English... and if the study consists of just comparing notes across a series of studies then the researchers did not meet their due diligence... My colleagues at newhope360 compiled their own review in a matter of minutes of articles that were easy to find and also written in English. But our findings were considerably different from Stanford's.
The Organic Center, reliant on donations and industry funding, is in the midst of conducting an actual study on organic vs. conventional vs. natural grain. Not yet complete, they have already determined organic grains are more nutritious.9 And by 'nutritious' they do mean 'more nutrient-rich.'
A 2010 study conducted by PloS ONE10, and partially funded by the USDA, found organic strawberries to be more nutrient-rich than non-organic strawberries.
In 2009, the American Association for the Advancement of Science featured a presentation on soil health and its impact on food quality.11,12 Conclusion: Healthy soil leads to higher levels of nutrients in crops.
Even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducted their own behavioral study that found higher risk of ADHD in children with higher levels of organophospates (pesticides)."13
Many of the Health Benefits of Organic are Due to What's NOT in Your Food...
Suppversity 14 also recently blogged about this Stanford study, rightfully pointing out that the health benefits are not necessarily related to getting more nutrients from your food, but rather about getting less toxins. In this regard, the Stanford study clearly concurred that organic foods expose you to fewer pesticides – about 30 percent on average. Organic meats also reduce your risk of antibiotic-resistant bacteria by an average of 33 percent.
Other studies comparing organics and conventional foods have shown the reduction in toxic exposure may be even greater than that. Suppversity writes:
"...[R]esearchers... at the University of Stuttgart set out with a whole different research question than most of their colleagues. Rather than trying to answer loosely defined questions such as 'What's better: conventional or organic?', they wanted to know whether or not it would even be possible to 'produce organic' in an environment that is already profoundly polluted; and... after 10 years and ten-thousands of samples of organic and conventional fruits, vegetables and animal products being analyzed the answer is 'Yes it is!'
'Organic fruits and vegetables had on average 180 times lower pesticide content than conventional products; and only 5 percent of the samples from organic produce were objectionable.' That's the conclusion the researchers in the 10-years special report that has been published in July 2012 (MLR. 2012b)."