Study: Organic Food Has No Nutrition Difference, But Fewer Pesticides

Seattle, Wa. (CBS SEATTLE) — Organic food may give consumers piece of mind, but it may not be worth a bigger piece of your wallet.

According to a new study published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine, organic produce has no more vitamins and minerals than traditionally grown produce.

However, the study does state that organic foods are less likely to contain pesticides and antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

“We did find that organic produce, so fruits and vegetables, had a 30 percent lower risk of contamination with pesticide residues compared to conventional produce,” Dr. Crystal Smith-Spangler of Stanford University, the lead study author, told CNN.

Using information from hundreds of previously recorded studies, pork and chicken were also analyzed.

Researchers found a 33 percent greater risk of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in non-organic pork and chicken, which they say “may be related to the routine use of antibiotics in conventional animal husbandry.”

About 7 percent of organic produce and 38 percent of conventional produce across the U.S. and Europe contains measurable amounts of pesticides, according to this latest study. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that in 2010, 59 percent of conventional produce in the U.S. contained detectable amounts of pesticides. And that’s in consideration of proper washing methods.

The USDA doesn’t allow organic farmers to spray with pesticides, however, chemicals can drift over from nearby crops, or produce is handled in the same warehouse as organic produce, Sonya Lunder, senior analyst at the Environmental Working Group, told CNN.

The American Academy of Pediatrics says to “minimize using foods in which chemical pesticides or herbicides were used by farmers.”

The FDA says that “levels of pesticide residues in the U.S. food supply are well below established safety standards.” But the FDA limits on pesticides aren’t designed to protect consumers from long-term exposure, Alex Lu, a professor of environmental health at Harvard University told CNN.

“Because humans are much bigger in terms of body weight, that amount of dose that kills insects will not kill humans right away, but the mechanism is the same,” Lu said.

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