New Paper Questions Organic Superiority

News EditorOrganic, Research

Joseph D. Rosen, Ph.D., emeritus professor of Food Toxicology at Rutgers University and a scientific advisor to the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) has released a new paper that he claims has debunked attempts by organic agriculture to prove that organically grown crops are nutritionally superior to conventional ones. His research can be found here.

Dr. Rosen analyzed a pro-organic report by Charles Benbrook and colleagues at the Organic Trade Association’s Organic Center and found the data had been selectively chosen and presented to “prove” the desired point. Dr. Rosen’s report, Claims of Organic Food’s Nutritional Superiority: A Critical Review, was published today by ACSH.

In the original pro-organic paper, Benbrook and colleagues had stated that organic produce is 25% “more nutritious” than that produced by conventional agricultural practices. But when Dr. Rosen actually recalculated some of their data, correcting several inaccuracies, he concluded that the conventional products were actually 2% more nutritious than the organic varieties:

The Benbrook paper had claimed that organically grown vegetables had much more quercetrin (a precursor of the antioxidant quercetin) than conventional varieties. But the organic vegetables studied had been sprayed with an organic pesticide that greatly increases plants’ production of quercetrin — so of course they beat the conventional plants on that measure.

Dr. Rosen also points out that the organic proponents included data of dubious validity in their review. They used data from articles that were not peer-reviewed, and in one case included nutrient content from an analysis of whole kiwi fruits — both the inedible skin and the edible pulp, though this is not what the consumer would eat.

Dr. Rosen’s analysis demonstrates how organic proponents have, once again, used misleading and inappropriately-evaluated data to support their agenda. More details on Rosen’s own methods and conclusions may be found here.