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Organic Food Versus Conventional Food

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Submitted By incognito123
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While supporters may pay three times as much for organic foods and say it is safer, more nutritious, and better for the environment; there is research that shows that organic food is not healthier nor significantly safer than the conventional alternative. A meta-analysis of 237 studies led by Stanford University researchers compared the nutrient and contaminant levels in organic food to the levels in conventional foods. The research concluded there is no significant evidence to determine that organic foods are more nutritious than conventional foods. However, conventional produce had a 30% higher pesticide residue than organic produce (Smith-Spangler et al., 2012). This study was conducted very well and included a variety of evidence to make the conclusions more reliable and generalizable. One thing that researchers noticed is that many of these studies had publication bias and reported incomplete results to find differences in the two types of produce where none exist. Another limitation to the study was that many of the studies were done in an experimental field that may not replicate the practices done in the real world.
Many individuals buy organic foods with the belief that it is pesticide free. The Stanford University study has already confirmed that organic foods have less pesticide than conventional produce, thus proving that organic doesn’t necessarily mean pesticide free. In fact, some of the pesticides used in organic farming can be just as detrimental if not more so than the ones used in conventional agriculture. Rotenone is an organic pesticide used in organic farming since 1947, because of its natural origin it was considered safe and organic (Fernandez-Salvador, 2014). However, research has shown that it is highly dangerous, with a recent research study linking rotenone to Parkinson's disease in farm workers. This was a case-control study that used 110 Parkinson’s disease cases and 358 controls. The study utilized was a good design to understand the prevalence of exposure to rotenone between the case and control groups. The sample groups were diverse in age, gender, and ethnicity and lived in either Iowa and North Carolina. The diversity and quantity of the sample makes this study more generalizable. Conversely, this study had some limitations. Most of the sample was exposed to pesticides, researchers could not exclude that other agents could have affected to the results of the study, and the retrospective nature of the study leaves the concern that some information could have been missed which adversely affected the results. The limitations of this study reduces the reliability of the results and possibly doing a prospective study in the future would help to resolve some of these issues. Consequently, evidence from the previously mentioned studies prove that organic isn’t really safe, more nutritious, or better for the environment. With individuals paying up to three times as much for organic food compared to conventional items, this makes organic food impractical and uneconomical. Seufert, Ramankutty, & Foley (2012) also revealed that organic farming is not cost effective, informing readers that yields from organic farming are on average 25% lower than conventionally farmed produce. This study is a meta-analysis that compared 316 organic and conventional crops across 34 species from 62 study sites. It was conducted very well including a large sample and researchers tried addressed the criticisms of similar research studies done previously and modified the study accordingly. The limitation of this study was a lack of applicable studies to distinguish all factors contributing to the variations in organic farming. This could have affected the study to give a biased result. In the end, it is important evaluate the costs and benefits of both organic and conventional options to make an informed decision when making a purchase.

Fernandez-Salvador, L. (2014). Use and Status of Rotenone in Organic Growing. Retrieved from zb0z1405zsto.aspx
Seufert, V., Ramankutty, N., & Foley, J. A. (2012). Comparing the yields of organic and conventional agriculture. Nature, 485(7397), 229-232. doi:10.1038/nature11069
Smith-Spangler, C., Brandeau, M., Hunter, G., Bavinger, J., Pearson, M., Eschbach, P., &
Sundaram,V., Liu, H., Schirmer, P., Stave, C., Olkin, I., Bravata, D. (2012). Are organic foods safer or healthier than conventional alternatives?: a systematic review. Annals Of Internal Medicine, 157(5), 348-366. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-157-5-201209040-00007
Tanner, C. M., Kamel, F., Ross, G. W., Hoppin, J. A., Goldman, S. M., Korell, M., & ...
Langston, J. W. (2011). Rotenone, Paraquat, and Parkinson's Disease. Environmental Health Perspectives, 119(6), 866-872 7p. doi:10.1289/ehp.1002839

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