State of Science :: Commentaries
TOC Comments on NOP Pesticide Residue Testing Rule
Comments submitted to the NOP by TOC Chief Scientist Chuck Benbrook on the proposed NOP pesticide residue testing rule.
"Comments of Consumers Union on Proposed Guides for Use of Environmental Marketing Claims"
Consumers Union calls upon the FTC to challenge environmental marketing claims with no grounding in reality, including inappropriate "organic" claims.
"A Perspective on the Co-Existence of Organic and Genetically Engineered Crops"
Chuck Benbrook discusses what it might take for an organic-biotech crop co-existence scheme to work in the United States.
S.F. Chronicle Op-Ed on the "Big Guns"
TOC Board member Dr. Alan Greene and Chuck Benbrook argue in this S.F. Chronicle op-ed that prevention is a sounder course of action in addressing the nations rapidly increasing frequency of overweight and type 2 diabetes.
Exchange of Letters on the Dangour et al FSA Study
"Letters to the editor" and the Dangour team's response regarding the controversial FSA review, published by the American Journal of Clinic Nutrition.
"Nourishing the Planet" Interview with Chuck Benbrook
Wide ranging interview on why science, technology, policy, and farming system changes are needed to advance global food security.
Comments to the FDA Food Safety Docket
Daniel Cohen has submitted comments to the FDA on the agency's proposed new rules governing the safety of fresh produce.
Comments on the Supreme Court's Decision in the RR Alfalfa Case
Brian Baker explains what was won and not lost in the Supreme Court's decision in the Roundup Ready alfalfa (RRA) case.
"Organic and Sustainable Up for Review...Again"
The Fall, 2008 OFRF newsletter contained a provocative analysis by Deborah Rich of the reasons why the NAS/NRC decided to spend >> $2 million dollars revisiting the findings, conclusions, and recommendations of a 20-year old NAS/NRC report, Alternative Agriculture.
Full Transcript of April 13, 2010 "Intelligence Squared" Debate
Full transcript of the April 13, 2010 "Intelligence Squared" debate in New York City on the motion -- Organic food is marketing hype. The panel arguing against the motion decisively won the Oxford-style debate, moving 24% of the 34% pre-debate "undecided" votes to the "against the motion" column.
"The Browning of the Green Revolution"
Three leading scientists explain why the upward trajectory of yields initially achieved by the Green Revolution has stalled. Thanks to Dr. Mulvaney for permission to post this important piece.
"Alternatives to Antibitoic Use in Food Animal Production"
Slides from a March 2, 2010 briefing on Capitol Hill lay out a compelling case for passage of the "Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act."
"Poisoned": Transcript from "60 Minutes -- Australia"
Transcript of a chilling piece broadcast by "60 Minutes -- Australia" on the health and environmental impacts of endosulfan and carbendazim.
"Is organically grown food safer or more nutritious?" -- Chicago Tribune, March 23, 2010
Julie Deardorff, staff health writer for the Chicago Tribune, summarizes the costs and benefits of organic food by major food group.
A Tale of Two Films: "Food, Inc." and "Fresh"
An overview is presented of the content and messages in "Food, Inc." and "Fresh," two feature-length documentaries on the U.S. food system.
Brief Review of USDA's July 22, 2009 Economic Analysis of the "American Clean Energy and Security Act" (ACES)
In a July 22, 2009 appearnace before the Senate Agriculture Committee, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack presented an analysis of the impacts of the House-passed energy bill. Several key issues are raised, and others are ignored.
Organic Center Response to the FSA Study
The U.K. Food Standards Agency has had, for many years, a policy stating that there are no significant differences in the nutritional quality of organic and conventional food. In response to recent scientific challenges to this policy statement, the FSA commissioned a review of the literature, just published in the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition." The London-based team that carried out the FSA review concluded that there are, in effect, no important differences.
A March 2008 study by the TOC reached some markedly different conclusions. Here we explain why.
The Center's response is now also available in Spanish.
"The Organic Factor -- Tilting the Odds Toward Healthy Development"
This cover story in the May-June 2009 issue of "Organic Processing Magazine" covers six ways that organic food can help prevent disease throughout life, with special focus on obesity, diabetes, and birth defects.
"In defense of corn ethanol"
Kirk Leonard offers a different perspective on the impacts and promise of corn-based ethanol.
"Corn Ethanol Allure Plummets"
Commentary on the high costs and environmental shortcomings of corn-based ethanol by Organic Center Board member Dr. David Pimentel.
"Show Me the Soil to Health Science - Building Alliances with Dietitians"
A leading dietitian challenges the organic community to produce science-based information linking organic farming systems to soil health and food nutritional quality.
Liquid Fertilizer Debacle Leads to Questions About the Integrity of Organic Food
Discussion of the sad tale about bogus liquid organic fertilizers, as presented in the January 2009 issue of the Organic Center newsletter, "The Scoop."
"Rust, Resistance, Run Down Soils, and Rising Costs -- Problems Facing Soybean Producers in Argentina"
Report published in 2005 covers the biological, social, and economic roots of serious problems now facing soybean farmers in Argentina.
"Time to Deal with Pesticide Risks in California's Coastal Communities"
A precendent-setting lawsuit involving chemical trespass is won by an organic farmer, triggering a one million dollar damage award from Western Farm Services.
"Pesticides in Food: Flying Blind"
Chuck Benbrook's cover story in the September 2008 issue of "Sound Consumer," the newsletter of the PCC Natural Markets Inc. in Seattle, Washington, discusses the consequences of the Bush Administration's decision to allow the USDA's pesticide use data program to die on the vine.
Statement by Supachai Pantichpakdi, Secretary-General of UNCTAD on Organic Farming
This compelling statement was made by the Secretary General of the United Nations Conferecne on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) at the 8th meeting of the International Task Force on Harmonization and Equivalence in Organic Agriculture.
Comments on the Reauthorization of the WIC Program
Organic Center comments submitted to the USDA on the 2009 reauthorization of Child Nutrition Programs and WIC.
Another Perspective on Heavy Metals and "Rusted Roots"
OMRI's Research Director, Brian Baker, provides a cogent summary of the challenges faced by all farmers in avoiding problems with heavy metal contamination.
"Redefining Sustainability: From "Greening' to Enhancing Capacity for Self-Renewal"
Fred Kirschenmann on the need to ground the concept of sustainability in basic ecological principles. Thanks to the Science and Environmental Health Network (SEHN) for permission to post Fred's piece.
Response to ACSH Report on the TOC Nutrient Content SSR
The co-authors of the March 2008 State of Science Review on the nutrient content of organic versus conventional foods respond to the review issued by the American Council on Science and Health.
Habitat Destruction Driven by Misguided Efforts to Promote Food Safety
These pictures tell a thousand words.
Buyers of fresh cut leafy greens are forcing California farmers to pursue a "bare-earth" policy that is bad for the environment, wildlfie, and farmers. Even worse, removing habaitat and grass cover is more likely to increase food safety risks than reduce them.
"The Link Between Organic and Health: New Research Makes the Case for Organic Even Stronger," Organic Processor Magazine
A beatifully laid out cover story in "Organic Processing Magazine" surveys the major scientific milestones in 2007 shedding clearer light on the benefits of organic food and farming.
"The Debate Continues -- Local, Scale, Values, and Finding Common Ground," Oregon Tilth Closing Address
Excerpts from the written text of the closing addess by Chuck Benbrook at the 2008 Oregon Tilth Annual meeting in Salem, Oregon. This talk does not represent the views of the Organic Center.
Food Quality Belongs Front and Center in "An Integrative View of Obesity"
Food quality may be the missing link in the assessment of how changes in the American diet have triggered an explosion in odesity and diabetes. Chuck Benbrook and Alan Greene explain why.
"Too Much Fuss About Pesticides?"
In 1989 Consumer Reports magazine published a lengthy and highly critical review of the assertion from Bruce Ames and colleagues at the University of California-Berkeley that natural carcinogens posed far greater risks than made-made chemicals, including pesticides. The article triggered a now-classic exchange of letters, made available for the first time on the Internet by The Organic Center.
Smell a rat? Results from animal feeding trials give us reasons to be fearful.
A summary of recent evidence from animal studies of food safety hazards linked to genetically modified foods has been published by the Soil Association.
"Denver Post," Letter to the Editor
The Organic Center responds to an inaccurtate commentary in the July 27, 2007 "Denver Post."
"The Packer" Letter to the Editor regarding Kids and Fresh Produce
Letter to "The Packer" in response to an editorial about efforts to expand children's consumption of fruits and vegetables.
Center for Food Safety Comments to AC21
Bill Freese of the Center for Food Safety provides some needed facts and data regarding GM crop planting and impacts on pesticide use to AC21, a USDA biotechnology advisory committee.
Q+A on GM Foods with Arab Business Weekly
An interesting set of questions were directed to the Center on GM food safety, leading to this Q+A.
"Looking Deep, Deep Into Your Genes"
Excellent overview from NRDC's "OneEarth" magazine of how prenatal exposure to pesticides and other chemicals can lead to life long health problems, and increase risk of autism.
TOC-OFRF Organic Speciality Crop Production Research Priority Suggestions
The Organic Farming Research Foundation and The Organic Center recommended five major research priorities to a USDA research advisory committee on August 29, 2007 in Modesto.
"Let's Keep Monsanto Out of Our Milk"
Michael Hansen of the Consumers Union and David Wallinga of the Institute for Food and Agricultural Policy lay out some of the reasons the FDA denied Monsanto's recent petition to prevent the labeling of milk as rBGH free.
The Faroes Statement on the Developmental Effects of Chemical Exposures
A March 24, 2007 concensus statement signed by more than 200 leading scientists addresses the human health effects of developmental exposure to environmental toxicants, including pesticides.
American Dietetic Association Practice Group Outlines Benefits of Organic Food and Farming
The Hunger and Environmental Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group of the American Dietetic Association has released a thorough review of the human health and environmental benefits of organic food and farming.
Comments to the Western Growers Association on E. coli O157 GAP Metrics
Recent science points to the need for several further additions to the "Good Agricultural Practice Metrics" developed by the Western Growers Association to prevent future E. coli O157 outbreaks.
"Wild Bird Chase"
Peter Milchett disputes the claim by the U.K. government that the recent bird flu outbreak on an industrial turkey farm was caused by infected wildlife.
"Plucking the truth from research"
Recent media coverage in the U.K. critical of organic chicken is traced to its (lack of a) source.
"Can Organic Farming Feed Us All?"
Brian Halweil of the WorldWatch Institute answers a key question, and in the process puts out to pasture several sacred cows of conventional ag wisdom.
Perspectives on the Demand for Organic Milk
Demand is growing for organic milk faster than supply, triggering a range of reactions and tensions. Access here recent media coverage of developments in the dairy sector.
"The Vegetable-Industrial Complex," by Michael Pollan
Michael Pollan delves into the causes and possible measures to prevent future E. coli O157 outbreaks.
A Primer on Epigenetics
A story in the Toronto, Canada "Globe and Mail" provides a clear explanation of epigenetic changes, and helps explain why small changes in diet and lifestyle can have surprisingly profound life-long consequences.
E. coli O157 Op-Eds
Organic Center op-eds and letters to the editor emphasize the need for prevention in reducing the frequency and severity of future E. coli O157 outbreaks.
Errors in MSNBC Story on Organic Milk
Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility respond to a biased and misleading article on organic milk that appeared on MSNBC.
President of the Sierra Club on Nutrient Decline and Lack of Media Attention
Carl Pope, the President of the Sierra Club, has alerted his membership to the significant decline in the nutritional quality of fruits and vegetables, highlighting the presentation of Dr. Don Davis at the Organic Center-Tufts University sponsored session at the 2006 meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Organic Sales Growth Predicted at Reuters Food Summit
"I do think [organic food sales is] a freight train that's going to pick up steam," David Johnson, Kraft Foods, speaking at the Reuters Food Summit. From a March 9, 2006 Reuters story by Brad Dorfman that quotes several food industry leaders from companies like Wal-Mart, Kraft, Sara-Lee and Unilever on the growing importance of organic brands and products
A Perspective on Nutrient Decline
Op-ed by Dr. Don Davis, University of Texas-Austin, on the factors contributing to the decline in nutrient concentrations in common fruit and vegetable crops over the last five decades. This op-ed was first published in the March 2005 issue of "Food Technology." More information on nutrient decline and the dilution effect is presented in Dr. Davis's presentation February 20, 2006 at the annual meeting of the AAAS. See also a summary of his paper on nutrient decline in 43 garden crops.
Bioneers Interview with Dr. Charles Benbrook on Genetic Engineering
Arty Mangan of Bioneers taped an interview on genetic engineering with the Organic Center Chief Scientist during the 2006 EcoFarm Conference in Monterey, California. The interview covered much of the same ground addressed in a well-attended EcoFarm session entitled "Genetic Engineering and the Species Barrier: Where is the Line?" The interview first appeared in Bioneers, March 5, 2006.
Manic for Organic
March 10, 2006 L.A. Times Editorial on the declining nutrient content of food, highlighting the work of Dr. Don Davis. The Editorial was triggered by the Organic Center-Tufts University symposium at the 2006 annual meeting of the AAAS. For more, see the presentation by Dr. Davis at the AAAS.
Organic Farming, Worms, and No-till
Klaas Martens discusses the impact of organic and conventional farming systems on soil quality and earthworms in a March 20, 2006 post to the "Odairy" email list.
Presentation to the 15th IFOAM Organic World Congress, Adelaide, Australia
See what R. Mark Davis, CEO of The Organic Center, had to say about everything from TOC's strengths, long-term goals and published reports to the Center's consumer education efforts. Also access here a copy of the September 23, 2005 "Adelaide Declaration" adopted at the close of the 15th Organic World Congress.
New Insights on the Nature of Food Quality
Workshop presentation by Dr. Charles Benbrook and Karen Benbrook on recent advances in understanding the nutritional benefits of organic food. Presentation made at the 30th annual Tilth Conference in Portland Oregon, November 2004. Adobe Acrobat (pdf) file contains four slides per page.
Is Organic Healthier? The Science Supporting Organic Foods
Organic Center seminar presented in Washington, D.C. at the Natural Products ExpoEast on October 15, 2004. Presentation by Dr. Charles Benbrook, Dr. Alan Greene, and Dr. Kathleen Merrigan. File contains six slides per page in an Adobe Acrobat (pdf) file. An audio tape is available from New Hope Natural Media. Contact Susan Fecko at 303-998-9070, or via email at email@example.com.
Congressional Briefing on Organic Food Safety
Dr. Mary Mulry, a member of the Center's Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee (STAC) presented an invited briefing to members of Congress and their staff on the impacts of organic food production and processing on food safety.
"What Will It Take to Change the American Food System"
Presentation made at the Kellogg Foundation's Food and Society Conference in April 2003 by Chuck Benbrook outlines what it would take to transform the American food system.