Work underway for 18-months has finally come to fruition. Two “State of Science Reviews” are being released in March and should contribute significantly to the public’s understanding of two core benefits of organic food and farming.
"Simplifying the Pesticide Risk Equation: The Organic Option" was released March 10, 2008. Access the full 49-page report, the Executive Summary, and press release on the Center's website; This report, written by Chief Scientist Chuck Benbrook, answers three common questions-
And the answers are:
As part of our efforts to reach consumers with practical information in “The Organic Option” report, we have produced a consumer’s guide to the riskiest foods in the spring-summer-fall based on residues in domestically-grown foods, and a similar list for imported fruits and vegetables primarily in the market in the winter. Access our “Organic Essentials” guide from the website.
“New Evidence Confirms the Nutritional Superiority of Planted-Based Organic Foods” will be released to the media Tuesday March 18th. The full report, Executive Summary, and press release will be posted on Monday March 17th.
This report is the culmination of two years of work. The team that carried out the work and co-authored the report includes –
Thanks also to Karen Benbrook who did a masterful job with the complex analytical work required to estimate the differences in nutrient levels across 236 comparisons of organically and conventionally grown foods.
The report provides strong evidence that for the most important of 11 nutrients, organic foods definitely are more nutrient dense, and often by a considerable margin. Across the 11 nutrients, organic foods contained on average 25% higher concentrations of nutrients.
The report points out that more than 40 new studies have been published since 2001.
The dramatic increase in high-quality studies in recent years has changed what this body of science shows. Until a few years ago, scientists were on solid ground in saying “We simply don’t know” when asked if organic foods are, in general, more nutritious.
Anyone that sticks to that answer now is not current with the literature. The confidence placed in the conclusions reached in the Center’s new SSR will be strengthened by important new studies soon to be published – including the Center-funded strawberry fruit quality project carried out by a team at Washington State University. We are hoping to tell you about that study’s powerful findings in the next “The Scoop.”
Editor’s Note – Multiple studies show that levels of carotenoids/Vitamin A, protein and nitrates are often elevated in high-yield conventional crops, while on organic farms, levels of Vitamin C, polyphenols, and antioxidants are often elevated and concentrations of protein, carotenoids, and nitrates are lower. Ever wonder why? We’ve got the answer…and it is rooted in plant physiology...
The OP Insecticide Diazinon Alters the Wiring of the Developing Brain
Almost every issue of Environmental Health Perspectives contains a new study exploring the ways organophosphate (OP) insecticides disrupt the developing brain and nervous system. In the March 2008 issue the focus is on diazinon.
The team of government-funded scientists found that very low levels of diazinon reduced the number of brain cells, altered the function of acetylcholine synapses, and disrupted the normal pattern of brain development, leading to “lasting deficits in cognitive performance and alterations in emotional responsiveness.”
Source: “T.A. Slotkin et al., “Neonatal Exposure to Low Doses of Diazinon: Long-Term Effects on Neural Cell Development and Acetylcholine Systems,” Environmental Health Perspectives, Vol. 116, No. 3, March 2008
Organic Production Increases Some Nutritional Attributes of Rio Red Whole Grapefruit
A carefully-designed study comparing conventional and organic production of pink grapefruit in Texas has been published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry (Vol. 55, 2007). The team was led by Dr. Gene Lester, a newly appointed member of the Center’s Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee (STAC).
Organic production had higher levels of ascorbic acid, certain health-promoting flavonoids, and sugars, and was lower in nitrates (a desirable nutritional attribute). It also had thinner, more yellow peels that would have graded “U.S. Fancy,” a quality grade above the conventional fruit. Plus, the organic fruit had higher specific gravity, which is regarded as commercial advantage.
Conventional fruit was better colored, higher in lycopene, and the juice was less tart. It grew faster, reached a heavier weight, had a thicker and darker peel than the organic fruit, but as the season progressed, the organic fruit caught up.
Independent Team Confirms that the Common Corn Herbicide Atrazine Disrupts Frog Development
Six years ago U.C. Berkeley zoologist Tyronne Hayes published research showing that extremely low levels of the herbicide atrazine could disrupt the morphological development of frogs. Despite repeating the study three times with similar results, the pesticide’s manufacturer, Syngenta, was able to fund other scientists who were unable to replicate the results and argued before the EPA that the work of Hayes could not be regarded as definitive.
Now a team at Tufts University has added a worrisome new dimension to this debate. They decided to study the impacts of low levels of atrazine in pond water at the early stages of tadpole development (Hayes studied the metamorphosis of tadpoles to frogs). By looking at this earlier stage of development –
Source: J.R. Lenkowski et al., “Pertubation of Organogenesis by the Herbicide Atrazine in the Amphibian Xenopus laevis,” Environmental Health Perspectives, Vol. 116, No. 2, February 2008
Vegetables, but not Fruit may Reduce Risk of Diabetes
Scientists report that vegetables rich in fiber, antioxidants, and magnesium, and with a low glycemic index, can reduce the risk of type-2 diabetes. Fruits, however, were not found to deliver the same benefits.
Consumption of 428 grams of vegetables per day (about eight servings) was associated with a 28% lower risk of Type-2 diabetes, compared to people consuming 121 grams (less than three servings).
Source: Raquel Villegas, Journal of Nutrition.
CLA may Help Combat Obesity in Children
A team of scientists has shown that piglets receiving higher levels of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) in their diet gained 50% less body fat than piglets less CLA. This is the latest of several studies that have suggested that CLA can play a positive role in weight management.
The scientists speculate that the prevention of childhood obesity may emerge as another health benefit of organic dairy farming, which leads to elevated levels of CLA, especially during periods of the year when dairy animals are grazing on lush pasture.
Source: B.A. Corl, CLA Reduces Body Fat Accretion and Lipogenic Gene Expression in Neonatal Pigs Fed Low- and High-Fat Formulas,” Journal of Nutrition, March 2008
U.K. Organic Chicken Farms have a Markedly Lower Rate of Salmonella Infections
Scientists in the U.K. surveyed 454 commercial chicken farms in 2004-2005, of which 54% were positive for Salmonella.
About one-quarter of the isolates were resistant to one or more antibiotics.
On conventional farms with caged hens, 23.4% of the farms tested positive for Salmonella, compared to just 4.8% in free range organic flocks, and 6.4% in conventional free-range flocks.
The research also showed that the bigger the holding size of chicken barns, the greater the Salmonella infection rate. Farms with 30,000 birds or more in one barn had four-times the infection rate of organic farms with the maximum size barn allowed by the Soil Association (5,000 birds or less).
Source: L.C. Snow et al., “Survey of the prevalence of Salmonella species on commercial laying farms in the United Kingdom,” The Veterinary Record, October 6, 2007
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What’s the difference between a toy poodle and a standard poodle? A faulty IGF-1 hormone system.
IGF-1 is a potent and essential growth hormone vital to all mammals, as well as to many other species, including flies.
But throughout the 1990s evidence mounted that IGF-1 played a role in cancer, and now it is universally accepted that every cancer cell needs IGF-1 to grow. In fact, the predominant theory today is that an over-supply of IGF-1 receptors is what makes some cancer cells thrive and become life-threatening tumors, while others remain dormant and are easily contained by a person’s immune system.
Even more worrisome -- cutting edge research suggests that prenatal or early-life exposure to elevated levels of IGF-1 can alter the patterns of hormone production later in life and/or the number of IGF-1 receptors.
Source: Laura Bell, “Weighty Evidence,” Science News Online, February 16, 2008, Vol. 173, No. 7
Acrylamide is a toxic Advanced Glycation Endproduct (AGE) that is formed when starchy foods are baked, roasted, fried or toasted. Scientists discovered elevated levels in French fries about five years ago, triggering intensive work by food regulatory agencies around the world.
Dozens of research reports have confirmed the toxicity of acrylamide, which is a risk factor for several cancers and diseases, and documented the various sources of acrylamide in the diet. Bakery products are one of the common sources.
A paper in the Journal of Cereal Science has shown that the addition of low molecular weight polyphenols like the antioxidant Vitamin C can help reduce the formation of acrylamide. The presence of antioxidants in wheat-based bakery products apparently provides alternative molecular partners for chemical reactions to target that, in the absence of antioxidants, can lead to the formation of acrylamide.
This paper provides the first evidence in support of a mechanism through which organic farming can reduce the frequency and levels of acrylamide in food. Through its increase in average antioxidant levels, and in particular Vitamin C, organic farming might be helping reduce acrylamide formation.
Source: A. Claus et al., “Acrylamide in cereal products: A review,” Journal of Cereal Science, Vol. 47, No. 2, March 2008
FDA Offers Poster with Nutrition Info on Fruits and Vegetables
The FDA has posted consumer-friendly posters with detailed nutritional information on fruits and vegetables including –
Access these attractive posters at http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/nutinfo.html from the FDA website. They come in three sizes. Posters with nutritional information on seafoods are also now available.
Soil Association Bans Nanoparticles
As of January 2008 the U.K.’s Soil Association has banned the use of man-made nanomaterials in certified organic products. Health and beauty products are likely to be the most heavily impacted in the foreseeable future.
Source: Soil Association Press Release, January 17, 2008
OMRI Receives ISO-65 Accrediatition
The Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) has achieved USDA accreditation under the International Organization for Standardization Guide 65 (ISO-65). This milestone for OMRI will expand the ways that certifiers and organic farmers and food companies can rely on OMRI’s reviews of materials for compliance with the USDA’s National Organic Program rule.
OMRI now reviews the products of 600 companies. There are 1,600 products on OMRI’s approved list.
Several States Move to Label Meat and Animal Products from Cloned Animals or their Progeny
At least 13 states are working toward passage of legislation that would require a label or warning sign on meat, milk, or eggs from cloned animals. The biotech industry is aggressively opposing the bills, and pushing legislation of their own that would outlaw labels on food alerting consumers that milk is from cows not treated with rBGH injections.
Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski introduced legislation in 2007 that would have required the following wording on product labels: “This product is from a cloned animal or its progeny.”
Source: Pallavi Gogoi, “States Move to Label Cloned Food,” BusinessWeek, March 4, 2008
Biotech Acres Keep Climbing and Profits Keep Growing…
A new industry study reports 12% growth in the global area planted to genetically-engineered (GE) crops in 2007. A total of 12 million farmers are planting GE-seeds, most of them small growers in India and Asia. Herbicide-tolerant soybeans account for just over half global acreage.
The author predicts that “the number of biotech countries, crops, traits, area and farmers will all grow substantially in the second decade of adoption.”
In a story entitled “GMO crops are transforming agri-business,” The Economist wrote that opposition in Europe to GMO feeds is breaking down because of the dramatic increase in feed grain process and the limited supply of non-GMO feeds on the global market. The CEO of BASF projects GM-technology sales of $50 billion by 2025, up from $6 billion in 2006.
A Monsanto executive “likens the [biotech] industry’s situation to the early days of the personal computer…” and predicts that “corn yields will double between now and 2030.” In Monsanto’s worldview –
Editor’s Note – These sorts of claims are what makes so many people deeply distrustful of Monsanto. It is ridiculous for them to predict that their genetics will double corn yields in 22 years. Sure, a few farmers bitten by the high-yield-contest bug might create a system that will produce 450 bushels of corn on a field yielding 225 bushels today, but don’t ask about the cost, the amount of nitrogen applied, or even think about drinking the groundwater if most farmers in the area are trying to push yields anywhere near that level.
And then there is Monsanto’s dismissive attitude toward all plant genetic resources. Are we to believe that added value in corn hybrids can only come from the work of Monsanto gene-jockeys, and their patented transformation techniques? This of course implies that the corn genome that has evolved over thousands of years, and belongs to all mankind, is next to worthless without the magic touch from the fine folks in St. Louis.
One wonders how Monsanto can continue to get away with this sort of rhetoric. But it surely does – Monsanto sales and profits are through the roof and as a corporation, it is far stronger than it was just four years ago. Very few academics, independent experts, or reporters covering the ag biotech beat dare question Monsanto’s PR because, from years of practice, Monsanto has perfected the art of silencing critics, or even skeptics, who are dependent on a pay check from an academic institution or government agency.
Sources: Clive James, International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications.
“GMO crops are transforming agri-business,” The Economist, February 27, 2008
Multiple-Herbicide Resistant Weeds Continue Spreading in Farm Country…
Not only are the number of weed species resistant to glyphosate (Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide) increasing and spreading at a rapid pace, but now, many weed species are showing resistance to several different herbicide modes of action.
Some waterhemp populations are now resistant to glyphosate, ALS herbicides (another 10+ products), and PPO-inhibiting herbicides (another 6+ products).
A recent retailer survey revealed that 51,000 acres in the State of Missouri may be suffering from glyphosate resistance.
Seed companies report that in the next 3-5 years 80% of the acreage in corn soybean rotations will be planted to both RR corn and RR soybeans, creating the long-feared “perfect storm” for the emergence of resistance.
Source: Mike Wilson, “Multiple-Resistance Weeds: Coming to a Field Near You?”, Western Farmer Stockman, February 27, 2008
Monsanto Pulling the Plug on the Original Bollgard Cotton and Preparing to Shaft Georgia Cotton Growers
The mainstay of the Georgia cotton industry for years has been Bollgard cotton, Monsanto’s initial Bt-cotton technology. But because of fears of resistance, Monsanto chose to not seek EPA reregistration of the technology, which is now being phased out. The last Bollgard seeds will be planted in 2010.
What’s next for Georgia cotton farmers? Monsanto is rolling out Bollgard II plus Roundup Ready flex technology – a multiple stacked gene variety that will cost growers about $113 more per acre, and produce $100 less cotton per acre, based on University of Georgia yield trials.
A University of Georgia cotton extension agent projects the loss of the higher-yielding original Bollgard technology will cost the State’s cotton industry up to $100 million per year.
No explanation has been offered why Monsanto’s latest, “improved” cotton genetics suffers from such a substantial yield drag.
Source: “Cotton variety loss may have major impact here,” The Moultrie Observer, February 9, 2008
Biotech Genes Keep Moving Around and Showing Up in Where They are Not Supposed to Be
A new report from Greenpeace has documented 39 instances just in 2007 of the improper spread of genetically-engineered crops and genes. Past episodes of GE-genes on the go involved Star-Link corn and Liberty-Link rice. Star-Link cost the U.S. government about $1 billion, and the company well over $1 billion when a major class action lawsuit was settled. The costs of the Liberty-Link episode, once the lawsuit dust settles, are expected to approach $1 billion.
The latest episode involves the escape of a GE-corn variety developed by Dow AgroSciences. The variety was grown on a research farm, but seeds somehow got mixed into the commercial seed supply. The costs of this most recent episode are yet to be determined.
Source: “Greenpeace: GM-crops spread improperly 39 times in 2007,” Associated Press, February 28, 2008
Straus Family Creamery Finds GMOs in 33% of its Organic Corn Feed Supply
Straus Family Creamery is at the forefront of companies trying to prevent the “adventitious presence” of GMOs in the dairy feed given to its cows. The Creamery is testing every incoming shipment of corn and soybeans with a rapid-test kit sensitive down to a 0.9% GM-content threshold. Even at this threshold, one-third of the corn shipments are found to be contaminated.
Farm owner Albert Staus told “Sustainable Food News” that –
Source: Sustainable Food News, February 26, 2008
Three Scientists Join the Center’s Scientific Advisory Committee
Three new members have joined the Center’s “Scientitifc and technical Advisory Committee, or STAC –
Thanks to these gentlemen, and all other members of STAC, for their willingness to guide the scientific work of the Center.
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Source: Wall Street Journal, February 27, 2008
Thousands of paramilitary troops have been deployed in Pakistan since January to guard trucks carrying wheat and flour.
Source: David Streitfeld, “A Global Need for Grain That Farms Can’t Fill,” New York Times, March 9, 2008
The levels of Vitamin C and health promoting flavonoids and antioxidants are elevated in organic fruits and vegetables, compared to conventional produce, because of the levels and forms of nitrogen applied by conventional farmers. Want to know why? – Read the new nutrient content SSR’s section on plant physiology.
Pesticide-products of choice on conventional farms are 479-times more toxic per acre treated than the pesticides used by organic farmers to manage common insects and plant diseases.
Source: Table 6, “Simplifying the Pesticide Risk Equation: The Organic Option,” an Organic Center State of Science Review, March 2008
People working on conventional hog farms are at heightened risk of picking up a methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection. MRSA bacteria from hog farms now account for 20% of all human MRSA infections in the Netherlands (despite aggressive EU-limits on subtherapeutic antibiotic use).
Source: “Study links MRSA, pig density,” Feedstuffs, December 10, 2007
Three insecticides had to be sprayed on Bt-cotton in a trial carried out in Tifton, Georgia in 2004, to avoid economically devastating yield and crop quality losses.
The highest economic returns per acre in 2000 and 2001 cotton trials were to nontransgenic varieties; Roundup Ready cotton was the least profitable.
Source: P. Jost et al., “Economic Comparison of Transgenic and Nontransgenic Cotton Production Systems in Georgia,” Agronomy Journal, Vol. 100, Issue 1, 2008
The U.S. Department of Agriculture was the only federal agency singled out for a significant research budget cut (down 15.5%) in the proposed FY 2009 budget sent forth by the Bush Administration in January.
Source: Chemical and Engineering News, February 11, 2008
Excerpts from the Closing Address at the Oregon Tilth Annual Meeting January 19, 2008
Starting in 2005 with controversy over the Harvey lawsuit, and reinforced since by open-warfare over large-scale organic dairies and the quest for an enforceable pasture rule, divisive issues and tactics within the organic community have pitted activists against farmers, processor against processor, and farmers against other farmers. The rugged debate over scale in the organic dairy industry has generated news and commentary questioning the integrity of currently certified farms, certifiers, the NOP staff, the rule, and organic food itself. The give-and-take of the debate has cast a dark shadow over all organic farmers and businesses, and grows like a cancer within….
There is a strong contingent in the organic community, spanning pioneers and newcomers, which cannot see any good coming from these developments [large companies and large farms getting involved in the organic sector]. For them, organic farming, and the food movement it has spawned, is primarily about saving the family farm…
For these people, support for and involvement in the organic food sector is more about social justice and creating an alternative economic model that will sustain small and moderate scale farmers as a viable island within a larger, increasingly “sick” conventional food system….
Others see the growth in diversity and size of companies producing organic food as good news, and a sign that consumers and the market place are responding to the proven benefits of organic food. They hope that as more companies get into the sector, and as more infrastructure is dedicated to organic product streams, the price premium for organic food will begin to fall and the availability of organic products will widen…
Many of these people have their roots in the consumer and environmental communities, and were drawn to the organic movement by its potential to promote public health by fixing what ails the American diet. They believe deeply that organic food is better for people and the land, and for farm animals, and they want to see these benefits spread as far and wide across the agricultural landscape as possible, reaching as many people as possible with nutritious, good tasting organic food, three times a day, day in and day out, and for them 3% of food sales is just not good enough.
The growing tensions within the organic community have their roots in these different reasons for being involved with organic farming and food productions, processing, distribution, consumption and advocacy. Put in overly simplistic terms, one group of us cares more about changing how all food is grown, for the health of our land and people, while another group cares more about sustaining small and midsize family farms, and associated food distribution businesses....
We need to recognize and honor these important reasons for supporting organic farmers and the organic food industry, and should anticipate and welcome the emergence of new reasons motivating people to become part of our community.
Dr. Andrew Weil, M.D., to Present at The Organic Center's 5th Annual VIP Dinner:
"Serious Science, Serious Benefits"
Join us for the 5th Annual VIP Dinner: "Serious Science, Serious Benefits" and enjoy an informative and lively evening with a welcoming address by world renowned holistic physician and author Dr. Andrew Weil, M.D. VIP Dinner
Tickets are $175 and include a pass to the Organic Trade Association's 2008 Organic Industry Reception, 6 - 8PM in the Grand Ballroom, Anaheim Marriott, with a Silent Auction to benefit The Organic Center. For OTA members, tickets to the dinner are being offered for $150, a $25 discount.
This is an important annual fundraising gathering for The Organic Center. We welcome organic business leaders, old friends and extend a warm invitation to new friends to gather with us. Come learn about our ongoing efforts to generate credible, peer-reviewed scientific information and communicate the verifiable benefits of organic farming and products to society.
Your company can participate in several ways
To buy tickets, become a sponsor, host a table or donate product please contact, Development Director, Seleyn DeYarus, at 303.499.1840, or email Seleyn DeYarus.
Summary of Scientific Milestones in 2007 Featured in Cover Story in Organic Processing Magazine
Thanks to Organic Processing Magazine for publishing the article “The Link Between Organic and Health: New Research Makes the Case for Organic Stronger,” by Chuck Benbrook and pediatrician Dr. Alan Greene, chair of the Center’s Board of Directors.
The lengthy story covers a wide range of topics and offers a reader-friendly roadmap through the most significant new science to emerge in 2007. Again thanks to Organic Processor Magazine, we have permission to share the article with you. Just click, and enjoy.
Thanks to Organic Valley for agreeing to underwrite the costs of the session.
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Core Truths includes fascinating research about why:
Donate $100 Now! Receive Free Copy of Core Truths
The Organic Center is pleased to announce our new on-line fundraising program - Become a Friend of The Organic Center
We can now accept secure on-line donations with both yearly and monthly giving options. We also have wonderful gifts to say thank you for your support – including a free one-year subscription to Organic Gardening magazine, organic t-shirt, organic tote bag, our book, Core Truths and Dr. Alan Greene's new book, Raising Baby Green. We have many ways to say thank you for supporting our work.
The Organic Center announces new fundraising program featuring Jerry Garcia artwork
A new fundraising initiative to benefit the scientific research mission of The Organic Center features a series of prints from Jerry Garcia original artwork. The series, "In the Garden," is made possible through the generosity of filmmaker Deborah Koons Garcia.
Five series of high-quality Giclee' prints featuring the artwork of Jerry Garcia will be offered for sale over the next three years through The Organic Center website, www.organic-center.org. Each series will include four to six prints made from original artwork created by Garcia, the late lead guitarist for the Grateful Dead.
The first series of prints, "In the Garden," is now available and includes five prints, each priced at $250. The full series is offered at $1,000. The series includes such works as "Snail Garden," "Another Butterfly," "Beehive," "Banyan Tree II," and "Butterfly Study." Images of the prints can be viewed above with more information available on the Center's website.
Our Research –
Companies, foundations, or individuals can support work by The Organic Center on a critical issue, or in a specific area through our donor directed research program. Contact Dr. Benbrook for details.
For companies, The Organic Center's Mission Organic Affinity Marketing Partnership Program provides resources and tools to help educate your customers about the personal benefits of organic food and farming. Become part of an effort to grow the U.S. market for organic from 3 percent to 10 percent by 2010.
"The Scoop," is an electronic newsletter published monthly by The Organic Center. For a free subscription, visit www.organic-center.org.
© 2008, The Organic Center. All rights reserved. Permission for reproduction of these materials for educational purposes will be granted by contacting The Organic Center at email@example.com.
Backed by the world's leading scientists, physicians and scholars, The Organic Center is committed to two goals.
TOC Board Chair: Alan Greene, co-founder DrGreene.com
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