New Junk Science Study Dismisses Nutritional Value of Organic Foods


organicYou’d think Stanford would be above such sloppy research. You’d be wrong.

Stanford University researchers conducted a meta-analysis (a selection and summary) of seventeen studies in humans and 230 field studies of nutrient and contaminant levels in unprocessed foods (e.g., fruits, vegetables, grains, milk, eggs, chicken, pork, and meat).

The study, published yesterday in The Annals of Internal Medicine, concluded that “the published literature lacks strong evidence that organic foods are significantly more nutritious than conventional foods. Consumption of organic foods may reduce exposure to pesticide residues and antibiotic-resistant bacteria.”

The media, of course, pounced on the first part of the conclusion and reported it with their usual ferocity, but in many instances completely ignored the second part. In fact, their headlines would lead you to believe there is no benefit to organic foods at all: “Stanford Scientists Cast Doubts on Advantages of Organic Meat and Produce” (New York Times); “Organic Food is Not Healthier than Conventional Produce” (Huffington Post); “Study Questions How Much Better Organic Food Is” (Houston Chronicle); “Organic, Conventional Foods Similar in Nutrition, Safety, Study Finds” (Washington Post). Even Stanford’s own press release says, “Little Evidence of Health Benefits of Organic Food, Stanford Study Finds.”

What the study actually said was that they didn’t find “significant” or “robust” differences in nutritional content between organic and conventional foods, though they found that organic food had 30% less pesticide residue. Even though the pesticide levels fall within the safety guidelines set by the Environmental Protection Agency, it should be noted that the health effects of the pesticides are cumulative, and that what we would consider safe might not align with the EPA! For example, as we noted two weeks ago, herbicide residue on GMO crops may be causing fertility problems. Organophosphate exposure can lead to pre-term births, and both ADHD and lower IQs in children, according to several studies from leading universities.

The Stanford study also noted that the risk for ingesting antibiotic-resistant bacteria was 33% higher in conventional than in organic chicken and pork. Remember our piece on “superbugs”? USDA routinely justifies irradiating or sterilizing food because of such food safety concerns, as we noted last week—and this study essentially proves that organics do not need to be sterilized because they are in fact so much safer.

The meta-analysis also found that organic produce contains higher levels of phosphorus, and that organic chicken contains higher levels of vaccenic acid and more organic phenols, which have antioxidant and anti-cancer effects. A few studies suggested that organic milk may contain significantly higher levels of omega-3s fatty acids.

What the Stanford study didn’t mention is that by definition, organic foods cannot contain GMOs, so they are far healthier than conventional foods. Even though the biotech industry keeps saying GMO is “safe” and equal to non-GMO crops, there is plenty of evidence to the contrary. Organic farming is also healthier for the environment because it does not employ large-scale factory farming conditions (not to mention being more humane toward the animals being raised for meat).

Charles Benbrook, PhD, a professor of agriculture at Washington State University and former chief scientist at The Organic Center who reviewed the Stanford study and most of the underlying literature, found the study misleading. He noted that several well-designed US studies show that organic crops have higher concentrations of antioxidants and vitamins than conventional crops. For crops like apples, strawberries, grapes, tomatoes, milk, carrots, and grains, organic produce has 10 to 30 percent higher levels of several nutrients, including vitamin C, antioxidants and phenolic acids in most studies.

As the Environmental Working Group notes, the Stanford study also contradicts the findings of what many consider the most definitive analysis in the scientific literature of the nutrient content of organic versus conventional food. In that 2011 study, a team led by Dr. Kirsten Brandt of the Human Nutrition Research Center of Newcastle University in the UK analyzed most of the same research and concluded that organic crops had approximately 12 to 16 percent more nutrients than conventional crops.

Critics were quick to point out flaws in the Stanford study’s methodology as well.

First, meta-analysis (that is, examining a large number of studies for commonalities) does not allow for the nuances and range of each of the studies—such as differences in testing methods, geography, and farming methods. There are a wide variety of different organic farming practices, and any given sample of food will reflect the soil in which it is grown. Chinese soil, for example, is notoriously deficient in selenium, and this carries through to the food. This makes it very hard to generalize based on an overview of a wide variety of studies.

Second, when researchers select studies for meta-analysis, they are free to cherry-pick whichever ones they like—and leave out any that might not support their conclusions. For example, a 2010 study by scientists at Washington State University found that organic strawberries contained more vitamin C than conventional ones. Dr. Crystal Smith-Spangler, a member of the Stanford team, said that this strawberry study was erroneously left out of the analysis, but that she doubted it would have changed the conclusions when combined with thirty-one other studies that also measured vitamin C!

What this comment completely omitted is that the chemicals used to treat non-organic strawberries are considered to be among the most dangerous. So arguing about the exact amount of vitamin C in the fruit ignores the main point that conventional strawberries are especially to be avoided because of contamination by a recognized poison.

Third, there was no long-term study of the health effects on humans of consuming organic foods versus conventional foods. The duration of the human studies ranged from two days to two years. Most of the health effects will take a lot longer than that to show up.

So once again we have the media trumpeting the most shocking tidbit as if it were representative of the entire study, and leaving out the most important findings—that organic foods are far safer in terms of pesticide content, antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and GMOs. The media also didn’t bother doing a critical analysis of the study’s methodology and rarely even offered a fair presentation of what the study’s critics had to say.

ANH-USA will be contacting each media outlet and asking for a correction to be published. We won’t hold our breath. As our readers know, Big Food Companies, like Big Pharma companies, are Big Advertisers, and the conventional media seems to tailor its stories accordingly.

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  • John R Franz

    Can you believe this, This makes it difficult to hold to constructive thoughts or civil debate, What is there to debate, Truth this one really showed the hand to everyone. What shame.

  • Richard Edlich

    pesticide content, antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and GMOs are lowest in content with organic certified foods. Consequently, I would recommend all health care workers and consumers use only organic foods. In addition, GMO foods should all be labeled in our country!

  • mary ann

    what do you expect Stanford lives on government money

  • O. Ann Fuller

    I have no issue supporting something that is legitimate but this article lost me in the first paragraph. “(e.g., fruits, vegetables, grains, milk, eggs, chicken, pork, and meat). What is chicken, and pork if it is not meat? Get all the facts right not part of them.

  • nancy pantoni

    Yet another ploy from an organization(s) thats feeling threatened and wants to keep people sick and profit from it.

  • Karen Wallaert

    Not to sound like a paranoid nut case but…. Looks to me like Stanford got paid by a company or companies like Monsanto and certain big pharma to report false study findings. Heallthy, organic foods are starting to take over Argibusiness, keeping the general public healthier so they won’ t need need as many drugs. Hmmm…I smell a money rat with the so called Stanford study on organic foods not offering much of advantage. Me? I will keep eating healthy, organic meats, fruits, dairy and veggies as long as I can get or grow and afford them.

  • Thomas Durst

    Apparently Stanford University has gotten a big donation from the factory faems, or the government to come out with such misleading findings. Anyone who has any knowledge of organic foods knows they are far superior to foods produced in a ” factory farm” environment. Grass fed and grass finished beef has no dangerous pesticides or antibiotics and is much healthier for human consumption.

    I have been eating only organic foods and no GMO products for many years, and i take no medication of any kind at age 71. Our infamous leaders wonder why medical costs are out of control, but never look at the obvious cause, which is what we are putting in our bodies. They also wonder why antibiotics aren’t working to kill bacteria and infection. The reason is because of all the antibiotics that are in the meat and poultry produced by the factory farms are going right into our bodies. Also the growth hormones given to the animals are causing obesity and early development in young females.

    Stanford University ought to be ashamed of being part of such a misleading and dishonest study. Once again greed rears its ugly head.

    Thomas Durst

  • warren yeend

    Stanford should do better. Incomplete science.

  • http://- Caroline Mast

    I knew the minute I read the article it was all wrong. Paid political agenda between govt, pharma..
    I wrote immediately how wrong the article was and the info was all slanted.
    I just can’t stand how they are pushing the GMO, and putting down organic foods.
    It is such a fight to eat what you want..The govt. wants you to eat what they dictate…only because it puts the money in the pockets of companies like Monsanto. The people must be informed constantly of this invasion to destroy our health.

  • Ronald P Barrett

    As a senior scientist&engineer I and my wife (a USAF Ret. Lt.Colonel) both find the Media and Stanford’s researcher a disgusting pair. They both are dead wrong and only after Press. Cheap shot by both.

    Stanford needs to demote-release this researcher for her bias and slef limited research work. Really poor work.

    The Media, NY Times etc we can excuse as they are only after the dollars sales such pimping brings in.

    Now let us see who paid for this sloppy work. Bet there is a financial tie-in here. Grant $$$s.

  • deena kolbert

    While this article does a good job of countering issues in the research from several points of view, it doesn’t mention who funded this project. It would be most interesting to know who actually funds research for Stamford and what department did this research. Who specifically funded this?

  • Beverly Foster

    The REALLY important thing to find out is who paid for the study. Dollars to donuts, it was big ag or big pharma, especially as the results come out just before CA votes on Prop 37!

  • Deb Dorn

    Thanks for the article. The first thing some friends or family members of mine will say to me is “see? I told you it doesn’t matter what you eat and how it’s grown.” Yes it does matter!

  • Mahhn

    Welcome to the USA, where money trumps truth. Sad.

  • Shara Saunders

    This Stanford study was reported today 9/4 on NPR Radio Morning Edition. I am so glad to see this reported here so that I can share it via email and Facebook. Very disheartening when I think of all the people who listen to them and believe what they hear. Thank you!

  • John Lewis

    I take that study and similiar studies with a grain of salt. Seventeen studies and 230 field reserarch studies is “a drop in the bucket” to make such an aburd claim about organic foods. Most stidies just “scratch the surface” with the varaibles ands then draw some reidculous conclusion which, then,, of course get published in a journal. The mdeia jumps on the story like s a hot potato. . The gullible can believe that junk if they want to, or they can “know the truth and the truth shall set you free.”

  • Terri Haney

    Stanford gets paid by pharmaceutical companies for drug trials. Big Pharma and Big Agra are closely tied at the hip. Stanford likes the money and therefore will always find in favor of Big Pharma and Big Agra. NO surprise here. I think we should form federal legislation that forbids schools at any level to get any federal funding (except student aid) if they also receive money from any organized industry. Especially if those schools do trial for industry such as drug trials. The school is biased and it hurts everybody, and they can not be trusted.

  • sue

    Everyone reading this should write a concise, bullet point letter to their hometown and community newspapers to let readers know HOW this “study-of-studies” is FLAWED, and why. Don’t let’s let them get away with this whitewash of chemical farming.

  • Jim Anderson

    Who financed the Stanford Study?

  • ecoalex

    Shame on Stanford in contributing to a hit job on Organic.I have no doubt ,this is an early attack by big Ag with an eye towards the GMO vote for California this Fall.

  • David

    Commercial Food:
    Food nutrient “declines of 5% to 40% or more”.
    Declining Fruit and Vegetable Nutrient Composition:
    What Is the Evidence? By Donald R. Davis, Journal of HortScience; February
    2009, 5 pp.
    Linked From:
    Eating Your Veggies: Not As Good For You?,8599,1880145,00.html?iid=digg_share
    By M.J. Stephey Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2009

    Neglect of the soil has “helped topple empires and wipe out entire civilizations” and care of the soil “has enabled other societies to flourish for centuries”.
    “Conquest of the Land Through 7,000 years”, Dr. Lowdermilk, Soil Conservation Service

    Humus (hyou-mes) is the organic matter in soil.
    HAPPY HUMUS! is a guide, prayer, affirmation, and political statement that, if, when, and should be, the life in organic matter is healthy, healthy soil grows healthy plants, and we gain healthy life nourishment for healthy bodies, mind, and spirit. Hummus (humm-es) is a MidEastern food made from garbanzo beans/chick peas.

  • Mike

    I made a decision several years ago, which was a couple years after my health started failing me at only 24. that I wasn’t going to listen to my doctor or the Feds anymore because while their methods had had no effect the naturopathic approach my dad had tried had done wonders for him. He was within six months of death according to the doctors, and yet he lived ten more years.

    I have since seen my health rebound! I’m almost as healthy now as I was at fifteen.

    Uncle Sam, you are no friend of mine.

  • Cyndi

    It’s not “junk science” just because it didn’t show the results you expected and hoped for. The trouble resides in the questions that they were able to ask. It was a “meta analysis” which means they had to depend on what was published and try to collect all those other studies and try to answer a couple new questions. What they really got were “negative results”. Every competent researcher gets negative results. Doesn’t mean it’s junk, incompetent or inaccurate. It simply means they could not answer their questions by looking at other peoples’ data.

    There are good take aways:
    1. organic foods are just as nutritious as conventionally grown
    (they don’t need commercial fertilizers & farming methods to be fully nutritious)
    2. organic foods are the responsible choice for a beneficial environmental impact
    3. organic foods support local growers and the local economy
    4. There is an ongoing 100 year study that will very likely answer the questions, but it’s a long wait and we just have to be patient.

  • Joan Kiburz

    Some research needed on who gave STANFORD a grant to make these bizarre statements.

  • Robert Parker

    How much did Monsanto contribute to Stanford?

  • Michael Kayutak

    Why aren’t gmo foods have been confiscated?
    And why is grocery stores selling stuff like this?
    And why are health food stores are going along with this shenanigan?
    The owners of these stores (especially health food store owners) ought to be ashamed of themselves.

  • Mary Ann Ruehling

    Do we know for certain who PAID for this study? It would be interesting to know this and to consider whether the sponsor of the study had an axe to grind with the organic food industry.

  • GreatScott

    Not to mention that all factory farm produce is Irradiated to kill any bacteria (from really crappy farming practices) thus killing most of the vitamins and nutrients fround in Franken Food like poroduce.

  • Robert Cruder

    Meta-analysis of heterogeneous studies is imperfect and unbiased selection of studies to include is difficult.

    Due to budgetary limitations it is rare for an individual study to achieve a sufficiently large sample size to exclude the results of mere chance.

    It is also difficult to exclude researcher bias. The recent report that equates consumption of egg yolks with the smoking of cigarettes perfectly matches the philosophical positions of the two authors and does not appear to check for or correct for that bias.

    Claims based on nutrient or pollutant analysis require a sample size large enough to represent ALL organic providers. A small sample of suppliers reduces credibility but a study just might be saved by combining it with others through meta-analysis.

    I am studying this meta-analysis and have not yet shown researcher bias. The studies in favor of organics almost universally suffer from small sample size, and researcher bias. A dispassionate meta-analysis might find some gold within that dross.

    Examples of bias include the belief that one side has a beneficial level of some nutrient or a harmful level of some pollutant when BOTH sources might be in the beneficial or harmful range. Without a credible reference point for nutrient adequacy or pollutant toxicity, even a 10:1 difference might have no health relevance at all.

    Every plant contains at least one toxin but humans have evolved to dispose of them when sufficiently dilute. The same pathways eliminate synthetic toxins, again when they are sufficiently dilute.

    The human body also appears to have a set point for pro and anti-oxidants. It tends to reduce absorption, increase degradation / excretion or down-regulate production of endogenous antioxidants when they increase in the diet.

    For example, when I consume large doses of vitamin C, my level of uric acid, an endogenous antioxidant that participates in most of the same reactions, is reduced. As long as my ascorbate level is high enough to avoid scurvy and my uric acid level is low enough to avoid gout, there is no short-term effect. Long-term favors a lower uric acid level but cares not about the source of the vitamin C.

    Given that, (along with the low price of synthetic vitamin C) why would I pay more for one orange that differs from another by even a 100% difference in its natural vitamin C content?
    By extension, without that kind of thoughtful comparison, why would I pay more for any “organic” product?

  • http://AllianceforNAturalHealth Darlene Gordon

    Thanks for this publication. Never listen to the mainstream media as they pull one idea and build a falsehood.

  • Mel Smith

    One thing you forgot is that conventional growers use chemical fertilizers and pesticides that kill off the soil based micro organisms in the soil and there is no natural minerals in the soil so the plants can ward off predators so they have to use the three minerals (Phosphorous, Potassium, and Nitrogen so the plant can grow, but none of the other minerals the plant requires to create nutrition, as that is what the plant uses to ward off predators.

    That is why Organic plants have more nutrition, as they have good soil with all the required minerals and soil based organisms, and no poisonous chemical fertilizers, or pesticides.

  • Roselyn Cerutis

    Unbelievable!! The press doesn’t bother – for the most part- to present a balanced view. Considering that the small bodies of children are particularly vulnerable to pesticide resibues in food, the omission of the last part of the study finding is particularly troubling.

  • Judi McMahon

    It’s outrageous the way newspaper reporters do not keep their objectivity and that the overall editorial boards do not oversee that the whole truth and not that half truths are reported to

    Shame, shame, shame.

    Never mind the idiots who conducted this supposedly “scientific” study at Stanford. More of the dumbing down of America!

  • Judi McMahon

    Reporters have an obligation to report all the news and not half the news because most of the time this indicates their own prejudices. So if a reporter loves hamburgers and fries and sees a supposed scientific study from Stanford that questions the validity of organic meats and produce,
    that person will play up what is his or her belief. So wrong.

  • Pat volk

    I read that because organically grown fruits and vegetables must grow stronger in their defense against harmful organism they are actually better for us nutritionally .This may or may not be true, but it is plausible

  • joad henry

    “Organophosphate exposure can lead to pre-term births, and both ADHD and lower IQs in children, according to several studies from leading universities.”

    I’m with you all the way…but specific studies and at least the names of these universities need to be shown or we’re in the same boat is the Mainscream Media

  • Terry B Wolfe

    Oh yeah, give a big ol tube of that juicy tube of pink-slime, ummm – ummm – ummm! Ralp – NOT!!! RalpF!

  • Bruce Cambigue

    You really missed the leading question. Who paid for the study? My bet is is on big Agra.

  • Terry B Wolfe

    Oh yeah, give a big ol tube of that juicy tube of pink-slime, ummm – ummm – ummm! Ralf – NOT!!!

  • Rex Kittle

    Were they using Organic foods in this test? Where they using GMO’s?
    Was this test paid for by Monsanto?
    Did Monsanto donate money to Stanford to conduct this test?
    Did the backers of the fight against Prop 37 pay Stanford to conduct this test?
    Who really conducted this test?
    Was a test conducted ?
    Who are the people who conducted this test?
    Are these people really from Stanford?
    Are these people from Monsanto or other chemcial companies?
    Why do chemical companies own most of the seed?

  • NWO Exposer

    Morons who think we’d buy into this BS. Unfortunately many of the masses will. Too bad for them but I guess we’ll have to press harder to spread truth.

  • Bob Hedges

    Unfortunately, quite often organically grown food is no better than conventionally grown food as far as nutrients go. Organic is a process standard and not a quality standard, plants get their nutrients from the soil they are grown in and if the nutrients (minerals) are not there, the plant can’t absorb it. You can check the quality of fruits and vegetables with a refractometer / brix meter. The sugar content of a plant is directly proportional to the mineral content. As the article said, GMO free and pesticide / herbicide are enough of a reason to buy organic.

  • Nick McNaughton

    Thanks for an excellent analysis pointing out some of the flaws both in Stanford’s meta-analysis and how it was reported by the media.

  • Mirla Delis Abraham

    I totally agrre with the studies of the ORGANIC FOOD. My father who lives in a small village named, San Paulo Viejo, Chiriqui, Republic of Panama, is right now, 105 years old. His birthday is, June 5, 1907. My father has a clear head, never has had a disease of any kind. He groow up eating all organig grown in his farm. He never used any chemical, nor pestiside or chemical fertilizers. Everything he consume was very natural and chemicals free. His doctor says that, when passes on will be of his old age, that perhaps it would be one of his organs that will give up. I wish that the people who makes those studies will think of my father and his way of eating. Thank you.

  • Roy Tremain

    The mere idea that genetically engineered crops will somehow save the day, in terms of actual agricultural production, is at best unfounded, at worst, utterly ludicrous; this sort of ignorance is propagated by those least familiar with actual healthy food production; my wife has spent much time growing an organic style garden; the health benefits of which, well surpassed my own expectations; especially as such fruits of nature exemplify various positive associations, e.g. good health, and the prosperity of the individual/individuals bent on consuming such products. Various genetically engineered crops which may be hydroponically grown, or genetically engineered pieces of corporate home spun seeds, can not never hope to be regrown as a normal plants, and as such, are not an alternative, and have no place in the future of agriculture, generally.

  • Dan Whitney

    What i would like to see are some completely blind studies of nutrient content so that no one can be fishing for data to support their position. I have grown enough produce to know that the content will change according to the environment it was grown in either organically or conventional, and the location of fruit in the tree changes most everything about it. So I am all for some completely blind comparisons but samples taken by trained samplers with no agenda behind their sampling. And yes I eat primarily non sprayed and as natural as I can.

  • http://[email protected] Anton Christopher McInerney

    What do you expect from those supporting a vast population reduction agenda as well as the profit motive in using corrupt technology in their creating a sick population for medical treatment profits! Which will come first population reduction? If so then they,ll have to profit in other ways with less sick people probably privatizing health care, that way if the world bankers are amenable they can charge over the lifetime of each patient over 150-200 years worth of derivative credit payment for each remaining surviving sick foundation soul for their medical treatments to pay for this favored elite economy they plan. I,m sure the rest of the universe will welcome these economic geniuses with open arms when space travel becomes available so their worlds can benefit too. Just think; less people, sicker people,higher health costs thus higher profits! How can the ruling elite lose?

  • Elizabeth

    So true. Campaign of mis-information. All to manipulate public opinion against the interests of the public. Hello Monsanto! We are awash in Frankenfood with no obligation on the part of the producers to identify it as such. We also know that all but of a handful of universities are bought and paid for as well as the FDA. The perversion of our age even extends to the genetics of our food.
    Who would have believed it?

  • Michael Elkins

    It’s worth mentioning that much of the antibiotic resistant bacteria found on organic produce has been traced to fecal runoff from nearby conventional hog or cattle farms, and is not due to the organic procedures being used.

  • Deborah Cady

    The Stamford report seems an example of how not to arrive at a valued result. 1. There is already extensive research giving consistently positive results for nutrition and safety from cancer causing pesticides, in organic produce to question the results of the report. 2. The studies were conducted by two researchers heterogeneously, and were limited in number. Limitations for the report clearly state publication bias may by present.
    The report goes begging for credibility, and one is left wondering if the research team had an agenda other than that of edification. What was the point!

  • Tim Webb

    You say that “herbicide residues on crops may be causing fertility problems”. I think you mean “may be adding slightly to the fertility destruction already being caused by GM crops”. This, I believe, is the overarching philosophy. Agenda 21, which has been official UN policy for a couple of decades now, seeks to cull the human population by whatever means necessary to a level of around 1/14 of present numbers. Accordingly therefore, we see individuals such as Bill Gates advocating these measures, investing in Monsanto stocks, and thereby supporting the GM poisoning of the population, as well as further advocating the mass sterilization of people via another Trojan Horse, the vaccination agenda. He has also been instrumental in providing sub-Saharan Africa with vast amounbts of “aid” in the form of AZT et al; whose effects are indistinguishable from those of another type of AID (s ). BPA, used to line all canned goods, is also a known hormone disrupter and male feminizer. We know that sperm count and viability is now at a level approximately 20% of values seen 50 years ago.
    Clearly, the wholly-owned media will promote any fiction seen to be supportive of the overall game plan.

  • Granny Franny

    I remember reading a study years ago which focused on soil depletion of minerals. It explained how much more food one must eat to get the same nutritional value as in past years. IMO, it was important to understanding an important aspect of obesity today: one’s body is craving more food to gain the same health benefits as available in old fashioned family farm goods twenty years earlier. Obviously such a study wouldn’t be “cherry picked” for a meta analysis…I am curious who funded Stanford’s meta analysis since funding influences the study selections.

  • lynn lawler

    It is imperative that consumers who genuinely care about their health, take the time and educate themselves regarding the effects of GMO’s on their health, the environment and the WORST situation of GMO;s methodically succeeding heirloom(standard) varieties of the original foods that we have left. This is a serious situation, folks! And it could eventually leave us without food! I trust what comes from God and nature…NOT from man! Look what man has done to the planet in the short span of 200 years…and counting! Do you really want to trust your future and that of your children and their children to the corporate monster makers?? I eat all natural foods and have grown my own organically for over 40 years and I can tell you, there are definitely differences in the quality and nutritional content of organic food. Some, like mine, are super nutrified, others are products of “organic neglect”. Play it safe! Grow your own! It’s fun, easy and a workout with a purpose. It will make you a little better each day, instead of worse. Isn’t that something worth working toward??

  • http://shdekoekkoek,bl Sheila de Koekkoek

    I heard the radio report saying the research had shown there was no advantage to taking organic foods. My immediate reaction was what had they researched? Was it the blood, the cholesterol, the blood vessels,the antioxidants; the nutrients, the energy levels , or just general health? The latter being ambiguous and not scientific in a short term test.
    So I blame the media again for loose, non scientific biased reporting.
    Unfortunately the general public hook on to such brief comments from the media.


    The news media was quick to pick this up and megaphone the “no nutritional difference” yea right everyone keep eating those pesticides herbicides and GMO foods, the cancers will get you anyway in the long run or genetic defects in the next gerneration, we won’t be here so eat up!! The Mass Media, now Stanford and the FDAA, coruption lining someones pockets… We are in need of some mass critical thinking, wake up! Don’t forget also the media is controlled by less than 6 major cartels today, its all entertainment with no accountability for content or truth.

  • Terry Walker

    Thanks for this great analysis. We have been buying and eating organic for 5 years. I couldn’t believe the mis-information that the media was focusing on.

  • Carmen Redding

    I’ve always tried to buy organic as it just made sense to me.
    now that I’m a retiree, and can no longer afford
    Organic food, I try to eat less fruit and vegetables and
    No meat. I just hope I die before I develop some
    Kind of cancer. I just worry about my 2 children ,
    29 and 30 year olds who are unemployed and have
    No insurance. I fear for them…I knew we were headed
    For this corporate oligarchy. At least they know better
    and have decided not to bring children into this
    world to suffer like they are. I know if Mitt wins, we are all
    Doomed !
    I do appreciate all you do for us humane humans !

    • http://yahoo Jean Haskell

      Some fruits and vegatibles are ok to buy non-organic. There is a list on internet. Also you need meat. You can buy non-organic, just try to get as lean as possible, trim extra fat and don’t eat grilled meats. Also try to buy meat close to home. It is terrible trying to cut thru the hype between organic, natural, etc so I just try to use common sense, read a lot and eat a balanced diet and keep moving. Walking is great, just 10 or 15 minutes twice a day. I also pump iron three to four times a week. I am almost 70 and my doctor told me to “keep doing whatever you are doing, your blood pressure is that of a 20 yr old. I take no prescription drugs, am never sick, no arthritis or none of the stuff most people my age have.

  • Cindy S

    It’s irresponsible of the media to report only what corporate owners and advertisers would like the public to hear, but that’s how it is. People who only watch TV or read a local paper, are severely uninformed. As soon as I heard this hogwash on the news, I knew it was junk science. The benefits of organic have been assaulted for years by the factory farming, and chemical, industries. Efforts to weaken legal meaning of the label, “organic,” too, have come from these industries. And most if not all well moneyed industries pretty much own the politicians. It is sad to see the disinformation and corruption in this country. I fear that the only way to reverse it is something our elected lawmakers will never go for; revoking corporate personhood and severing the ties between corporate donors and political campaign funds. As long as these special interests run the govt, we’ll never get honest news. The days of Woodward and Bernstein are over, the investigative journalists have been laid off, and “news” comes from industry press releases that papers and TV stations repeat like good little puppets.

  • Richard Waters

    Capitalism has it faults and even in Agriculture you need to “Follow the Money”.

  • M. Campbell

    Only organic food hippies would see a study finding that their food isn’t nutritionally better and then blindly ignore that in favor of it stating that it MAY reduce exposure to pesticides. Organic pesticides are some of the most toxic known to man.

    • TD

      Citations please.

  • Johnny Gregory

    Thanks for this very well-written rebuttal to last nights slanted and out of context “news”. If the media will look into your suggested corrections and do anything about it on air or in print it will signify a victory for truth, freedom and organic growing methods, and a move away from supporting the ag chemical industry.

  • John Reiche

    It would really help my arguments when I try to present our case, (to the brain dead, media (NPR)influnced public) if you would site a few strong respectable studies supporting our position on nutreints and their affects on ageing and health.
    My mother for example will not take more than 1000mg D3 because her Dr told her not to and that her upper 30 levels are fine for her age (77). She has a double masters to her credit and I have no degree at all, so I don’t feel she believes that I could possibly have more knowledge or insite as to her proper dietary intake.
    She constantly throws up cases of friends, that even though they ate as healthy as possible, have preceded her to a younger, early demise. Or people who have tried natural cancer treatments after alopathic medicine failed them, and died any way. (I’m Sure you have heard all the arguments)
    I would love to send her this article, but without strong supporting evidence she would just pass it off as another conspiricy therorists babble.
    Thanks for your efforts,

  • Dr. Karl R.O.S. Johnson, DC

    Thank you very much for pointing out the weaknesses and media frenzy that followed the release of the Stanford study. It never ceases to amaze me that smart people can be so unintelligent at times. This type of study clearly shows the influence that pharmaceutical company funding can have on a place of higher learning.

    The quality of the food that goes into our bodies matters a great deal and is analogous to proper fuel for the type of engine your car has. If you put gasoline into a diesel engine or diesel fuel into a gasoline engine, the results would be disastrous. Similarly, putting chemical laden, nutrient deficient, GMO foods into our human form, will lead to health challenges. Eating natural, organic, nutritionally superior foods will provide the essential nutrients our bodies need to build and repair the trillions of cells we are made up of.

    The pharmaceutical industry wants to promote concepts that influence people to make poor choices so more drugs can be sold to treat the diseases and conditions caused by poor body function. It’s a travesty!

    Thanks again for your efforts to help create a healthy world.

  • Tom Germain

    My main reason for sticking with organic is that a meta-study like this is bound to look more definitive than it actually is. As they say, better safe than sorry.

  • vicki

    They also neglected to mention that the individuals conducting the study work for a corporation called Precision Health Economics and their major clients include the largest biotech company and a major pharmaceutical company.

    • TD

      That was my first thought: Who is behind this study? Thanks for the info!

    • TD

      I’m being asked on other threads to cite proof that the study is connected to Precision Health Economics. Would you mind citing your source?

  • Heather McLees-Frazier

    The media attention to that study is a travesty. Yet I have an issue with one comment in your article: that “by definition, organic foods cannot contain GMOs.” Since most crops in the US are pollinated by bees (and natural pollination is, in fact, one of the major goals of organic farming), and bees do not discriminate between organic and GM-planted fields, cross-pollination could result in “organic” fruits and vegetables that do contain GMOs. To my mind, the most important aspects of organic farming and the produce it–well, produces!–are the reduction in exposure to harmful chemicals, and the environmental impact of organic farming. GMO content is, unfortunately, out of our control at this point.

  • Steven Esposito

    Thank you for this insightful and informative evaluation of this research study.

  • Farmer Marie

    Are you surprised? I’m not. Know your farmer – they know their soil. We use a refractometer to monitor the health of ours and are working to build it up every single season. THAT’s how you get healthier, more nutritious and pesticide residue free foods.

    Dirty laundry is what they’ll tell you sells. I think they should try selling good news again for a change. They might be surprised at how many people actually tune in.

  • Suzanne

    I think the timing of this study is a harbiger of the misinformation campaign big agra is running to instill doubt into the general public on the benefits of organic in order to forward their agenda on GMO. I suspect we will be hearing a lot more stories like this in the coming months. Its a coordinated attempt to sway the American public against GMO labeling initative in California.

  • Steven Castrechino

    USDA and it’s other agencies are robbing us of our god given liberty to produce our own non-GMO produce without their interference. This is an agency that should have never been created.

    • Michael

      The USDA was created to ensure clean food, which it did until republican deregulation and budget cuts
      eliminating inspectors gutted it. Oddly enough, these “reforms” were touted as advances and streamlining by agribusinesses which contributed heavily at vote-buying time. Oops, of course I meant
      campaign time.

  • Steven Castrechino

    USDA and it’s other agencies are robbing us of our god given liberty to produce our own non-GMO produce without their interference. This is an agency that should have never been created.

  • Steven Castrechino

    USDA and it’s other agencies are robbing us of our god given liberty to produce our own non-GMO produce without their interference. This is an agency that should have never been created.

  • Steven Castrechino

    USDA and it’s other agencies are robbing us of our god given liberty to produce our own non-GMO produce without their interference. This is an agency that should have never been created.

  • Steven Castrechino

    USDA and it’s other agencies are robbing us of our god given liberty to produce our own non-GMO produce without their interference. This is an agency that should have never been created.

  • Steven Castrechino

    USDA and it’s other agencies are robbing us of our god given liberty to produce our own non-GMO produce without their interference. This is an agency that should have never been created.

  • Michael

    Just go to show how big money is trying with every thing they have to discount health living and make food cheaper so they make huge profits. Just think about it? Who can afford to go to Stanford? The wealthy! Why do we find this shocking? Who are their Alumni and major donors? Big business. The battle cry amongst the rich is keep or get rid of the middle class and keep them unhealthy and the super rich will prosper.

  • pamela cote

    I listened to a report on NPR about this ‘study’ , and, was struck by the 3 people discussing it. it was as if they were reading from a script that someone(?) had given them. it was shallow and unconvincing!

    • http://Irene IRENE CONNOLLY

      The Media analysis of the Stanford analysis of organic nutritional content vs pesticide grown crops is mind boggling. Consumers buy organic so their families do not take in pesticide residue and excessive antibiotics. They are fabricating an argument that no one is having.Their headlines are misleading a public that draws conclusions from only reading headlines.Perhaps that is their purpose. Our Internist recommended we buy organic as much as possible, especially for the children.His father, a Cardiologist, recently died from liver cancer. That doctor ate a heart healthy vegetarian diet. His sons had tissue analyses and many other tests done and found extreme amounts of pesticides in his organs. This is the reason people are paying more for their food.

    • Nancy G. McFadden

      Regarding National Public Radio talking about the organic study as if they were reading
      from a script.

      I have seen NPR do similar things on the issue on nuclear power, minimizing Fukushima
      especially. I have chosen to not believe them on anything, unless reliable sources say so.
      And reliable does not always mean the national media.

    • Pace D. Fering

      Yeah right. Who are these scientific simpletons trying to sell us this nonsense? They say: “Just count the calories, and exercise. We have ways to make plants and animals grow, we just need certain chemicals and various materials, the particular form doesn’t matter, just count the calories, you’ll be fine, stop worrying about all this trivia, but don’t forget to buy life insurance and health insurance – you never know when you might need them!!” I wonder what they tell their own children?

  • Bob

    I thought organic foods were by definition pesticide free?

    • Kaare

      They are,
      More information on this study, their use of confusing metrics, and underplaying their findings, is available in this article:

      • Bruce Stewart

        It appears that the Stanford researchers used the standard ploy of finding which statistic best shows the outcome they desire. Not the statistics that best represent the truth.

        Thank you for the link. Page 6 tells exactly why the study SEEMS to show that there is barely a difference in organic and conventional when there is actually a very large difference in true pesticide residue.

  • nelly valla

    the FDA and USDA shound be out they are not working for food safety for the people they are owned by big corporation and it’s about time that we all wak up and realize what going on

  • Chris C

    My question is who paid for this “study”? That is always my first question when suspect science is touted. How much were the scientists at Stanford paid and the school for that matter. Grilling the authors on that kind of info might embarrass them enough to limit how often this happens.

    • Kaare

      Stanford listed their funding source as “None”. Any idea if we can dig deeper and find out who was behind the study?

  • Donna Marquart

    I guess NPR repeats what is released from the mainstream media I’m disappointed – Maybe some discussion will occur – – go to NPR online and make a comment – they allow for that on their website. Follow the money. Monsatano is probably behind it – to “get the word out” before the California proposition to label GMO’s comes up this fall and is in the media.

    • Kaare

      Stanford listed their funding source as “None”. Interesting huh?

  • felixfelix

    See the article of some weeks ago in the New York Times about Stanford’s original and continuing function as a seedbed for various industries. Seems to me that this fits right in. I must say I also find the timing suspect: a California institution publishing this such a short time before the California vote?

  • BH Sales

    I have eaten organic foods for the last two decades plus. I have not been to a physician in over twenty years as I am virtually never ill. I also model my own business under this philosophy. Big Agri- is part of the machine. I am comfortable in doing my own consistent research and I can vouch for what organic has availed to my own health, and those of my clients who state the same, and align themselves with the life style.



  • MarkG

    I know is fashionable to blame business and the profit motive for everything. If the FDA does something wrong, it’s businesses’ fault! If the press does something wrong (final paragraph in the article), it’s the fault of advertisers! How about blaming the FDA and the press for their mistakes and leaving it at that?

    For those who want to theorize, consider an alternative theory. Big loves big. Big business, big unions, big education, big medicine, etc., all love big government, and vice versa. Individual freedom with strict curbs on government power means messy competition, and who wants to compete? From a government perspective, it is so much easier to direct the actions of, and harvest money from, a few big organizations, than to deal with hundreds of millions of citizens. As for the press, they control your vote by the news they report and the news they choose not to report; and your vote controls government. Heady stuff for the media! But it’s only worth anything if government is powerful. The more powerful the government, the more powerful the press. So they are all in bed together.

    I have no doubt that the natural health and supplement industry are threatened by government. Who authors the bills in question? Durbin (D), Reid (D), etc. The proximate danger comes from the FDA. So how will your readers vote? They’ll vote for a more powerful government, and tougher regulations.

    Thinking they are limiting the freedom of others, they will be limiting their own freedom. It really doesn’t matter if companies aren’t allowed to sell you “untested” supplements, or if you aren’t allowed to buy supplements. Either way you will have do without, emigrate, or skirt the law. Public tolerance for those who refuse a vaccine, drink unpasteurized milk, use an “untested” supplement, see someone who is not a preferred provider, eat as they choose, etc., can disappear in the blink of an eye.

    • Robert

      Interesting logic, MarkG, essentially making ‘big government’ the axle (not axis) of evil, around which big business, the big free press and limitation of personal freedom all spin, as spokes on a wheel.

      Economic systems, (once they surpass the size of a small village) of which pharmaceutical and agribiz are a part, need rules, and government – as agents of the citizenry – by default needs to establish them. Those rules must include regulations for anything that is likely to be harmful to health, a line that could be roughly drawn at the production of products that do not occur naturally – pharmaceutals, pesticides, GMO plants to name a few.
      The average citizen cannot be expected and is not qualified to determine the safety of a particular compound, and professionals who MAY be more qualified need to know they are working with reliable information. The FDA and USDA don’t abandon their oversight responsibility just because, it requires collusion from these multi-national (ie non-patriotic to the US) conglomerates whose raison d’être is profit, and who, like a noxious odor filling in every available crack, will go as far as they are allowed, and, in this time of ever-increasing political patronage being a necessity for winning elections, few from either party are willing to fill the cracks.
      A useful and ethical FDA, as the rest of government, would be as big as needed to do what it needs to do. Even with the laws in place today, the Merks, Pfeisers and Monsantos think of our lives in terms of cost/benefit analysis, and the FDA does as little as possible about it. It is not the size of government that makes the FDA dangerous, it is the corruption, and that IS the profit motive as a malignant, unchecked cancer. The fewer the rules, and the less the enforcement, the more the cancer will spread.

  • Tina

    Just goes to show that you can’t believe a single word of anything that tries to pass itself off as “news.”

    • Tina

      Forget about Al Qaeda (if they even really exist), the mainstream media are the real terrorists

  • Carol

    Thank you for publishing this article. I heard the sensationalized headline on the radio yesterday and immediately wondered about the true specifics of the study.

  • M.E.

    I find it absurd that anyone would give credence to any study that so obviously goes against common sense. I do not need an “expert” or the findings of a questionable study to validate or discount what I already know; what is logical and reasonable. Poison (ie. pesticides & herbicides) and GMOs are destructive and dangerous to the health of living beings and the planet.

  • Glory Huckabee

    Where does the media buy their food? What are their biases? Has there been a study done on this? This is, of course, all said tongue in cheek, but doesn’t the media also cherry-pick what they will present to the public based on their personal and corporate biases as much as those who produce and review the studies? What do the researchers eat for breakfast? It’s all very complicated isn’t it?

    Glory Huckabee

  • Roger Fuller

    @ Chris C. Right On! Who did pay for this ridiculous study? That should be everyone’s first question, including ANH-USA. And I noticed that this article seems to make it a contest to see which nutrients have a higher percentage content in organic foods. While I do agree that the nutrient percentages are higher in organic food; the Stanford study never mentions genetically engineered food and the ANH-USA article talks very little about GE food. Genetically engineered food is far and away the greatest problem with conventional food for the past 19 years. With GE food, not only do you have less nutrients; the entire plant or animal that it comes from is a completely mutant organism. The mutant plant seed DNA reproduces the mutant traits again and again, as the plant grows, until the finished full grown plant is completely mutant. People don’t seem to realize that these are ” not of this earth plants ” . They might as well have dropped down from outer space! The entire biochemical molecular structure has changed. And as we have been told by Jeff Smith of the Institute of Responsible Technology, the DNA changes in the plant seed DNA actually produce an unstable DNA molecule with an unpredictable and unknown structure. The studies that we need to adequately reveal the structure of the resulting plant proteins have never been done; so GE food is a huge unknown. Who in their right mind would even want to take a chance with that?
    And finally, this degenerate Stanford study is just a pathetic attempt to sabotage proposition 37, the GE food right to know act in California, just 2 months before the election.

    yours truly,
    Roger Fuller

  • Jasmine Mills

    All pesticides on the produce or “aproved amount to be ingested”. Pesticides are not save at all no matter what your dosed is it build up in your system.

    • http://Cox Doretta Karns

      My mother was living proof as well as her parents that organic foods are healthier. They all
      passed away in their 90’s and I grew up on organic foods as none of them believed in pesticides and
      I thank them for this as I have been exceptionally healthy throughout my life and I still raise organic foods
      in my garden!

  • Vern J.

    When are people going to use common sense to evaluate everything. Look at both sides of each item and decide which is best for them. Our forefathers did not have anything but organic foods and they even lived longer than we do with fewer problems.

    • jimbo

      But that’s not true, is it? Life expectancy has steadily risen, and depending on when you date the time of our “forefathers” it has increased by around 20-30 years.
      Much of the shortened lifespan of our forefathers arose because of poor underlying nutrition and exposure to things like infections or other diseases which at the time were untreatable. Today we see a rise in the numbers dying from degenerative diseases like cancer and heart disease. Some of this is purely a byproduct of the fact that we are living so much longer – 200 years ago we might have died aged 40 from sepsis, but today we primarily die from the diseases of aging.
      Food and nutrition play only one part in this – some things are unavoidable. If diet could solve everything, where are all the 130yr olds who have eaten nothing but healthy/organic food for much of their lives? (or to put it another way, why wasn’t life expectancy over 100 in the time of our forefathers, rather than 50?)

      • Cynthia

        They didn’t have the Dr’s and hospitals, and knowledge and resources that we did. And they didn’t die from the diseases that most of the older generation is dying from today.

      • Cynthia

        And heart disease and cancer is not a disease you can get simply by aging. There isn’t such a thing as diseases of aging. It starts with food and how you take care of yourself, and starting while your young.

      • The Nutritarian

        The 100+ population are living and living fully, here and more so in other cultures/parts of the world. They’re present in the way they experience life, eating well and living fully, happily, maybe disconnected or unconcerned with the media and the vast disconcern about health and wellness by the majority over here. Diet and nutrition can solve a number of enormous societal economic and health problems. Take a look at what obesity is costing us, to name one. How about heart disease? Tobacco? Leading preventable killers. Cancer is a byproduct of man. Manmade products and pollution.

  • Dena Speranza

    Thank you AHN-USA for being a source of clarity and providing unbiased reporting. What is happening to our nation’s food supply is an atrocity. And though I don’t think that all attempts to “improve” our food sources are solely profit-driven, or for other nefarious reasons, it is clear that many scientific research studies are structured in such a way to produce the sought after results. If people don’t speak up, write their representatives, and help to educate others, we will soon be so regulated that local farmers and back-yard gardeners will be prevented from growing natural, organic crops and raising animals without pesticides, chemicals and synthetic hormones. I’ve linked to your article in my recent blog post and hope others will do the same to help continue to spread the word.

  • Christine

    Non-organic food is connected with GMO products, which are in turn connected with Monsato’s work. The ‘replacement’ of natural plant genes by man-made genes, results in a mixture of artifical
    poison grown and fed to humans. Just few results on this issue:

    PLEASE, spread that and let people know, what they are eating, by eating non-organic, especially when they are seriously sick (CANCER) and when studies, like Stanford’s, are backed up by certain interests groups….

  • Riky Rak

    I am Canadian and very happy to see that some people in California have guts to bring the GM food to the attention of everybody. Thank you Californians and keep it up!

  • Jim Klug

    The key component of the Stanford report is in its methodology of determining the “Risk Difference”. The risk difference calculation fails the common sense (not to mention mathematical) test. One incidence of pesticide contamination is 5%, the other is 35% and the risk difference is 30%? What nonsense! The absolute difference may be only 30%, when simply subtracting one number from the other, but the effective difference is far, far greater.

    Contained in one of the articles I’ve read on this is the analysis of the study done by Professor Charles Benbrook, who states that the method of calculating the Risk Difference is an “unusual and unfamiliar metric” – and my limited research into the methodology of calculating risk supports his statement. Here is a link to his analysis for you to look at – it’s worth reading.

    While Professor Benbrook calculated the difference one way, here’s another one that may make it clearer. Consider a situation where you are making 5% on $1000 and 35% on another $1000. The absolute difference between the two percentages obtained by simply subtracting one number from the other is 30%, certainly…but the difference between $50 and $350 is definitely not 30%! In reality, $50 is only about 15% of $350, so the real difference between the $50 and $350 is 85%…which is exactly what Professor Benbrook points out using his method of calculation.

    In a way, Professor Benbrook also understates the difference, depending on how you look at it. Certainly 5% is only 15% of 35%, so the difference can be stated as 85%…but 5% is also only 1/7 of 35%, so if you have 5 instances of pesticide contamination in once case and 35 instances in another case, the higher amount is actually 7 times (700%) of the lower amount. When we’re using statistics, as in so many things, the framing of the argument is the key…and that illustrates the accuracy of the famous Mark Twain quote “There are 3 kinds of lies. Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics”.

    As both Professor Benbrook and I have noted, using different forms of calculation, the risk difference claims made in the study are totally without merit in regard to the data in question – regardless of what other applications to which that kind of analysis may be valid – although I confess I can’t think of any that would be.

    Noting that most of America is woefully math challenged (not to mention logic and critical thinking challenged), it certainly appears to me…

    • Jim Klug

      Oops…the last part of my comment got cut off. Here’s what it said:

      Noting that most of America is woefully math challenged (not to mention logic and critical thinking challenged), it certainly appears to me that the researcher either deliberately structured the risk difference outcome to make the average person believe that the risk difference is much lower than it actually is – OR, the researcher is devoid of basic math, logic and statistical calculation skills. In other words, the researcher is either dishonest or incompetent…either one of which is enough to completely discredit any other information contained in the study and making the entire study worthless.

  • June Heimsoth

    There is no end to the levels universities will stoop to to get funding from giant corporations. Six figure salaries (sometimes times 2) take a lot of funding.

    • Ogre

      And the one thing that they never mention is that plants usually aren’t looking for a particular mineral, they are looking for a radical hanging onto it. The plant will often settle for anything that has that radical. You may get a perfectly nice healthy, plant, but without the nutrition available from a plant grown in non-depleted soils.
      Generally speaking, if you don’t find it growing wild, the soil is probably missing something more than NPK.

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  • Jeremiah

    Actually we get most of our funding from the government. Did they authors of the meta-analysis declare a conflict of interest on the publication? If not, they were federally funded meaning there isn’t really much of a motivation for them to say one thing or another.