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Doubts cast over advantages for organic food

A new study hasreopened the debate on whether organic food is better for consumers.

After an examination of four decades of research comparing organic and conventional foods, scientists at Stanford University concluded that fruits and vegetables labelled as organic were no more nutritious than standard varieties. The researchers also found that there are no clear health advantages to organic meats.

While there was evidence of more pesticide residue on conventional fruits and vegetables, the report suggests they were almost always under the allowed safety limits.

“When we began this project, we thought that there would likely be some findings that would support the superiority of organics over conventional food,” Dr. Dena Bravata, a senior affiliate with Stanford’s Center for Health Policy and the senior author of the paper, said.

“I think we were definitely surprised.”

However, many question the study’s methodology and say that while the nutritional value of the food may be similar, less pesticide was often a great motivator for the organic consumer.

While organic foods are in high demand across the US and Europe, it only makes up one per cent of Australia’s food industry.
The demand is expected to grow as consumers look to access ”high quality, locally produced fruit and vegetables,” Vegetables WA executive officer Jim Turely said.

Speaking to thewest.com, Turley went on to say that young, local growers were more environmentally conscious and were leading the push for ‘greener farming methods and higher quality fresh produce.’

Organic Federation of Australia spokesman Tim Marshall said the Stanford report was not ‘particularly surprising’ but went on to say, ‘we still do believer there are nutritional benefits.’

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