Once again, the mainstream medical PR machine has managed to infuse a reductionistic and myopic conclusion on a study which was set up from the beginning to focus on distracting issues.
The Stanford study on organic food as compared to standard commercial food did look at some important issues including pesticide levels in the children who participated but the PR spin focused on nutritional content and the sound bite sounded a whole lot more like there was no significant difference between eating foods from the two groups.
The two researchers focused on food-borne illness and nutrient content. However, it is easy to conclude what ever you want to conclude, if you don’t include stats you like. For instance, to conclude food-borne illnesses are the same in each type of produce sounds as though they did not look at the issue close enough. It is commercial farming of animals that typically contaminates produce grown nearby, organic and non-organic. So to conclude there is no difference between organic and non-organice in terms of food borne illness is misleading.
To conclude that children who ate conventional food had higher levels of pesticide but that the levels where within EPA safety levels, ignores the fact that EPA safety levels of chemicals are often way behind the research and greatly influenced by industry. In 2005, the EPA did not consider Bisphenol A to pose a health threat based on industry’s research. Independent research proved Bisphenol A to be highly problematic but the EPA held it’s position.
The researchers either don’t understand the impact of long-term pesticide levels and the potential links to cancer and other diseases or they don’t want to. There was also no mention of pesticide residue in our water table or it’s impact to other species. Clearly, toxic chemicals in our water table is an important health issue but was not even a whisper as far as the study was concerned.
The researchers did conclude that antibiotic resistant microbes were more prevalent in meat from conventionally raised animals. This is huge (and obvious) as antibiotic resistance accounts for much morbidity and mortality in this country and is a growing concern.The growing number of severe illness from antibiotic resistance just in the pediatric age group is a major concern. The problem is the PR machine and the media focused on the sound bites regarding the “no difference” between the two types of foods and not the two important issues regarding longterm health and sustainability factors.
What I took away from the study was: an increase in antibiotic resistant microbes, an increase in pesticide residue, a lack of concern for our water table and farm workers and a lack of attention towards pesticides and our growing disease rates. Recently pesticides and Parkinson disease has been linked.
I would like to see the list of donors to Stanford, specifically, if Cargill or Monsanto are among them or if they funded this or any other studies by the two researchers.