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Medicine Science

UK's FSA Finds No Health Benefits To Organic Food 921

blackbeak writes "The UK Food Standards Agency's 'Independant Organic Review' results were just released, and the BBC rushed to publish the findings in the shockingly titled article, 'No Health Benefits to Organic Food.' From the article, 'There is little difference in nutritional value and no evidence of any extra health benefits from eating organic produce, UK researchers found.' A peek into the research at Postpeakpublishing provides a slightly deeper look."
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UK's FSA Finds No Health Benefits To Organic Food

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  • Re:World improves (Score:2, Informative)

    by sopssa ( 1498795 ) * <sopssa@email.com> on Thursday July 30, 2009 @05:01AM (#28878969) Journal

    Organic food is. That's the point of it -- Making it as naturally as possible, without using extra ingredients and such to better it. Cow shit is one of the most used things the fields are filled with (so they dont use technogically improved soil etc)

  • by haruchai ( 17472 ) on Thursday July 30, 2009 @05:08AM (#28879007)

    Yellow Smarties have same health qualities as red Smarties..

    Put down the Smarties, pick up the M&Ms and eat the blue ones: http://timesonline.typepad.com/science/2009/07/why-migraines-could-leave-you-blue-in-the-face.html [typepad.com]

  • by screamphilling ( 1173499 ) on Thursday July 30, 2009 @05:15AM (#28879041)
    taken from wikipedia's entry on organic farming: Excess nutrients in lakes, rivers, and groundwater can cause algal blooms, eutrophication, and subsequent dead zones. In addition, nitrates are harmful to aquatic organisms by themselves. The main contributor to this pollution is nitrate fertilizers whose use is expected to "double or almost triple by 2050". Researchers at the United States National Academy of Sciences found that organically fertilizing fields "significantly [reduces] harmful nitrate leaching" over conventionally fertilized fields: "annual nitrate leaching was 4.4-5.6 times higher in conventional plots than organic plots".
  • Re:so? (Score:3, Informative)

    by daem0n1x ( 748565 ) on Thursday July 30, 2009 @05:50AM (#28879247)

    Tastes better, too.

    I get lots of vegetables, olive oil and pork from my folks. They are retired, live in the country and farm for fun. After eating a tomato from them, you'll never want to buy tomatoes at the supermarket again. And olive oil is so expensive, I get the best, 100% pure olive oil in the world for free.

  • Re:from TFA (Score:5, Informative)

    by HighFlyer ( 60002 ) on Thursday July 30, 2009 @05:52AM (#28879263) Homepage

    No need to expand anything. People just need to eat less meat. There's a conversion factor of around 8 to 15 converting plant-based food into any kind of meat. You loose around 90% of your nutrional energy by that conversion. We could easily feed the world if the industrial nations wouldn't insist on their daily hamburgers and steaks.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 30, 2009 @05:59AM (#28879317)

    The weight of scientific evidence against the use of pesticides is quite frankly, frighting. For a decent condensed summary of many scientific papers from many fields demonstrating the effects of pesticides, (especially on the endocrine system [wikipedia.org]) check out the book/collection of scientific reports Our Stolen Future [ourstolenfuture.org].

    In 1995 worldwide pesticide sales were around 30 billion. Who knows what they are today?

    Not so fast. If you're concerned with pesticides, you might want to brush up on what exactly constitutes an "organic" food.
      Here is a Quackwatch [quackwatch.com] article about the subject. It also addresses pesticides directly.

  • by Angostura ( 703910 ) on Thursday July 30, 2009 @06:00AM (#28879319)

    Yes. As I pointed out in my original message, antibiotic resistance is a real problem when they are used to promote growth rather than to fight disease. The use in agriculture is implicated in resistance in human pathogens too.

    As for John Emsley's analysis. The man takes things to extremes. Am I suggesting that organic methods be foisted on sub-Saharan Africa to retain biodiversity? No (although they do get higher export prices for export crops) I'm explaining why there are ratioanal reasons in the UK to favour UK organic farmers. I hope that helps your comprehension.

  • Re:from TFA (Score:5, Informative)

    by digitig ( 1056110 ) on Thursday July 30, 2009 @06:06AM (#28879349)

    You are dead right. I for one would call "not being poisoned by organophosphorus residues" a health benefit. I wonder who paid for this study and then chose the report's title.

    If you follow the links (yes, I know, this is /.) you will find that it covered overall health effects, not just nutrition. You will also find that it was paid for by the UK's Food Standards Agency (FSA). I don't know who chose the report's title ("Organic Health Effects Review"). Presumably the FSA chose the title of the press release ("Organic Review Published"). Why? Do you find those titles biased or controversial?

    However, the FSA press release doesn't seem to match the content of the report. The report was on a study of studies, looking at existing work rather than doing any new research. It found that the "because of the limited and highly variable data available, and concerns over the reliability of some reported findings, there is currently no evidence of a health benefit from consuming organic compared to conventionally produced foodstuffs". That is not the same as the FSA's claim that "there are no important differences in the nutrition content, or any additional health benefits, of organic food when compared with conventionally produced food" as the FSA say on the press release. The study showed that we don't know whether there are any health benefits, not that there are no health benefits. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. This suggests at least incompetence on the part of whoever did the press release, and possibly malice.

  • Re:so? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Daemonax ( 1204296 ) on Thursday July 30, 2009 @06:26AM (#28879463)
    I've not read the first two articles here, but I imagine they'll have referenced much of the information I've seen in the past.

    http://www.skepdic.com/organic.html [skepdic.com]
    http://skeptoid.com/episodes/4019 [skeptoid.com]
    http://www.acsh.org/factsfears/newsID.1190/news_detail.asp [acsh.org]
    http://skeptoid.com/episodes/4162 [skeptoid.com]
  • by will_die ( 586523 ) on Thursday July 30, 2009 @06:35AM (#28879513) Homepage
    The reason is very simple you are Lactose intolerance.
    Check the milk you are drinking and you will probably find that it is lactose free. Alot of organic milks are this way because it is cheaper to throw everything into the same container than have multiple version. Organic milks are also ultrapasturized because they need the longer shelf life.
  • Re:from TFA (Score:3, Informative)

    by xaxa ( 988988 ) on Thursday July 30, 2009 @06:39AM (#28879539)

    There were claims publicised in the UK that while organic and non-organic food had the same levels of major nutrients, organic food had higher amounts of trace nutrients -- the things you only need micrograms of (selenium was one, I think).

    I haven't read the report, but my assumption from the summary is that these claims have been found to be false.

    (I don't often buy organic food. I do try and buy properly produced food, e.g. the cheap and normal tomatoes in UK supermarkets have been artificially ripened, and don't taste of much. The more expensive ones have been ripened properly, and are far sweeter and tastier. That's useful in a salad, but if I'm going to cook the tomatoes I'm not so bothered.)

  • Re:from TFA (Score:3, Informative)

    by Daemonax ( 1204296 ) on Thursday July 30, 2009 @06:41AM (#28879555)
  • by ryants ( 310088 ) on Thursday July 30, 2009 @06:43AM (#28879571)

    IF CHEMICAL PESTICIDES ARE hazardous to health, then farm workers should be most affected. The results of a 13-year study of nearly 90,000 farmers and their families in Iowa and North Carolina -- the Agricultural Health Study - suggests we really don't have much to worry about. These people were exposed to higher doses of agricultural chemicals because of their proximity to spraying, and 65 per cent of them had personally spent more than 10 years applying pesticides. If any group of people were going to show a link between pesticide use and cancer, it would be them. They didn't.

    A preliminary report published in 2004 showed that, compared to the normal population, their rates of cancer were actually lower. And they did not show any increased rate of brain-damaging diseases like Parkinson's. There was one exception: prostate cancer. This seemed to be linked to farmers using a particular fungicide called methyl bromide, which is now in the process of being phased out. According to James Felton, of the Biosciences Directorate of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, who also chairs the study, "The bottom line is the results are coming out surprisingly negative. It's telling us that most of the chemicals we use today are not causing cancer or other disease."

    http://www.cosmosmagazine.com/features/print/1567/organic-food-exposed?page=0%2C2 [cosmosmagazine.com]

  • by frenchbedroom ( 936100 ) on Thursday July 30, 2009 @06:52AM (#28879623)
    I'm sure you've already eaten some. Like Lindt (swiss) or Toblerone (also swiss) chocolate. And of course Nestlé (still swiss) ! Belgium is also well-known for its chocolate : Côte d'Or, Leonidas, Jeff de Bruges... one of my favorite belgian chocolate brands is Dolfin. Their rosepepper chocolate is awesome. I recommend finnish chocolate too, Fazer does some really good stuff (but I was raised on it, so I'm biased :) )
  • Re:Title misleading (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 30, 2009 @07:00AM (#28879689)

    I'm afraid you're wrong.

    Most research about the use of contemporary fertilisers show that they do not 'add' to the wealth of the soil. They in fact use the capacity of the soil and then fail to adequately repair it.

    The ongoing deterioration of land is a basic story and is covered well in research. Peter Singer has written some interesting commentary.

    The ongoing damage to soil fertility results in larger amounts of chemical fertilisation being used. Eventually the soil is exhausted and the owner merely sells if off. They are interested in business, not farming, therefore they do not have to consider the next 100 years of production.

    The degredation of large areas of the food production areas of the USA and China is well documented. This is predominantly because of poor farming practices.

    Eat less or no meat - if you wish to live as nature intended, get back in the forest and the plains and wipe your arse with your hands (or someone elses). Organic farming produces very high output and it is merely misleading and uninformed personal bias which causes people to state otherwise.

    I don't know you. You don't know me. I've nothing personal against you. Please, like so many others, do some reading.

  • by ryants ( 310088 ) on Thursday July 30, 2009 @07:06AM (#28879733)

    I eat organic for 2 reasons, one is I don't want my body filled with the left over amounts of pesticides (in the case of fruit and veg)

    You are deluding yourself if you think organic == no pesticides, or if you think pesticides == cancer:

    Scientists are unable to test these chemicals directly on humans, so they use rats instead. To establish the maximum dose considered to be safe for humans, they find a dose that's completely safe for rats. Then they divide it by 100. Testing by Australia's national regulator, Food Standards Australia New Zealand, shows that pesticide levels measured in food are either well below the recommended maximum dose or are completely undetectable.

    People live about 80 years longer than rats: that's 80 years longer for pesticide cocktails to accumulate and wreak havoc. Even so, it turns out that a lifetime's consumption of synthetic pesticides is a drop in the ocean compared to the natural pesticides we consume from the plants we eat. Plants have evolved a vast pharmacopeia of chemical weapons, and we consume many of these 'weapons' daily: caffeine in coffee, solanine in potatoes and psoralens in celery, to name just three.

    From a very lengthy article [cosmosmagazine.com] that probably won't be read or dismissed as casually as this current study.

  • Re:Title misleading (Score:3, Informative)

    by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Thursday July 30, 2009 @07:07AM (#28879741) Homepage

    The other thing authors like Michael Pollan have been busy pointing out is that we don't know all the micro-nutrients in whole foods, so we actually can't know whether the contents of, say, organic lettuce, actually matches the contents of a conventionally grown lettuce because we simply don't know what all to look for. And those micro-nutrients make a big difference, as well as making the food taste much better.

  • Re:World improves (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 30, 2009 @07:18AM (#28879803)

    FYI, fertilizing with manure is standard practice in both organic and inorganic farming.

  • Bad summary (Score:4, Informative)

    by mykdavies ( 1369 ) on Thursday July 30, 2009 @07:19AM (#28879805)
    Why is the phrase "Independant(sic) Organic Review" in quotes? It's not the title of the report, that's "Comparison of putative health effects of organically and
    conventionally produced foodstuffs: a systematic review", and it's not quoted text from the linked article.

    The report was commissioned by the FDA, but actually produced by the London School of Economics; that's what makes it independent.

    There's no need to go to postpeakpublishing (or Database Error as they seem to be called today) for a deeper look as you can read the whole report at http://www.food.gov.uk/multimedia/pdfs/organicreviewreport.pdf
  • by twostix ( 1277166 ) on Thursday July 30, 2009 @07:23AM (#28879829)

    Organic farming is clearly defined if you (in your infinite knowledge of all thing agriculture) cared to look it up.

    When I was about 12 I was helping my uncle drench sheep - basically giving them a chemical shower. The chemical we were using caused me and my cousin to both have explosive diarrhea, stomach cramps and nausea the instant we caught a decent whiff of the overspray. "You'll get used to it" was my uncles advice to us.

    There's areas on farms where sheep dips stood that are now officially poisoned ground that food can never be grown in due to the arsenic levels in the soil, these old dip sites are tracked by the government where known.

    But yeah, all the chemicals being sprayed all over your food are completely harmless, so to are the growth hormones and antibiotics your eating every day.

    I bet you would have said the same thing about lead pipes 40 years ago.

    It's you who wallow in ignorance I'm sorry. Have you even ever stepped foot out of the city?

  • Re:World improves (Score:3, Informative)

    by twostix ( 1277166 ) on Thursday July 30, 2009 @07:35AM (#28879907)

    No I think you'll find that machinery (specifically the tractor, combine, header and truck) is the reason that it doesn't take 80% of the population to work the land anymore. Everything else you list gives insignificant increases in output by comparison.

    My uncles are limited in the amount of land that they can work on their farms by the size of the tractors and machinery they have.

    Food preservation techniques came about in about 1850 btw, but don't worry about it.

    I should remember I dun know nuthing about that that there food production like you edumacated city slickers do.

  • Re:World improves (Score:4, Informative)

    by zippthorne ( 748122 ) on Thursday July 30, 2009 @07:39AM (#28879937) Journal

    Don't eat mushrooms then. They're not only made in cow dung, they're basically made entirely from cow dung.

  • by Mindcontrolled ( 1388007 ) on Thursday July 30, 2009 @07:41AM (#28879951)

    the same enclave of hippy bozos that brought us organic food also vies for the prohibition of DDT in developing countries where over a million people, mostly children below the age of 5, [wikipedia.org] die each year from malaria.

    Trolling much lately? DDT is still in use as malaria control. Quoting from the wikipedia link you so kindly provided:

    The evolution of resistance to DDT in mosquitos has greatly reduced its effectiveness in many parts of the world, and current WHO guidelines require that before the chemical is used in an area, susceptibility of local mosquitos to DDT must be confirmed.[83] The appearance of DDT-resistance is largely due to its use in agriculture, where it was used in much greater amounts than the relatively small quantities used for disease prevention. According to one study that attempted to quantify the lives saved by banning agricultural uses of DDT and thereby slowing the spread of resistance, "it can be estimated that at current rates each kilo of insecticide added to the environment will generate 105 new cases of malaria."

    So, today's lesson: If you link something to further your bullshit agenda, you better read the linked content completely beforehand. Might save you from looking like an idiot.

  • by AliasMarlowe ( 1042386 ) on Thursday July 30, 2009 @07:44AM (#28879965) Journal

    It's quite simple, when i drink standard milk i get horrible stomach cramps and other nasty digestive effects. When I drink organic milk (NOT SOY) I have none of that.

    By the term "standard milk", do you mean homogenized milk? Homogenization breaks the suspended particles (typically fats with proteins) into much smaller sizes, greatly increasing the surface area presented per gram of solids. If you have a sensitivity to some substance in the suspended solids of cow-milk (e.g. a particular protein, sugar, or fat), then homogenization is likely to exacerbate your reaction to it. This effect will occur whether the milk is organic or not, but since organic milk is likely to be unhomogenized, it may appear to be an organic vs non-organic issue.
    I also speak from personal experience. I can consume reasonable quantities of whole milk, but can tolerate only small quantities of homogenized milk before digestive problems occur.

  • Re:World improves (Score:4, Informative)

    by c6gunner ( 950153 ) on Thursday July 30, 2009 @07:47AM (#28879993)

    but we also have diseases wich were almost unheard of 100 years ago.

    True. And we have diseases which were completely unheard of 30,000 years ago. Is there a point?

    GM food has been shown to have negative impact on the environment where it's grown and it's effect on our health would best be described as "disputable", since the GM companies are actively lobbying the government for exclusive access to our kids food supply.

    Sheer nonsense. First off, most of the food you eat has been genetically modified. It's just that silly buggers who don't know anything tend to get more upset about those eeeevil scientists in their crazy white coats than they do about farmer bob and his descendants selectively breeding plants for their own purposes. Anyone who eats seedless fruit while complaining about "GM food" is a fucking idiot.

    And, second, the idea that all food which has been scientifically modified - regardless of what changes were made - is "bad for the environment" is so silly that it shouldn't really warrant a response.

  • Re:from TFA (Score:3, Informative)

    by Potor ( 658520 ) <farker1@gmail. c o m> on Thursday July 30, 2009 @07:52AM (#28880035) Journal

    Look at the hypoxic zone in the Gulf Mexico [carleton.edu], and tell me organic food is not more healthy.

    Look at the meat-packing plants that moved away from large urban centres like Chicago and to small towns (and thus away from large city media and scrutiny), where illegal aliens are used as slave labour (and even recruited by company brass [ucdavis.edu]) mass slaughtering cattle sickened by corn on CAFOs [ecosalon.com]), and tell me organic food is not more healthy.

    The arguments against organic food are legion; it's a shame that this study lacks a larger view of the health benefits beyond nutrition of organic food.

  • Re:so? (Score:5, Informative)

    by TobascoKid ( 82629 ) on Thursday July 30, 2009 @08:06AM (#28880145) Homepage

    But "nutritionally better for you" is one of the ways organics have been sold. Less so in recent years as more and more studies have shown it actually wasn't though.

  • Re:World improves (Score:2, Informative)

    by maxume ( 22995 ) on Thursday July 30, 2009 @08:30AM (#28880353)

    Manure enjoys widespread use regardless of whether the farmer has 'organic' in mind or not.

  • The UK government article to which the Slashdot summary links says at the end, "Our review indicates that there is currently no evidence to support the selection of organically over conventionally produced foods on the basis of nutritional superiority."

    There is no claim that organic foods are more nutritious. Organic foods are intended to be free of poisons like insecticides.

    The idea is not that eating foods with traces of insecticides and other poisons would cause immediate sickness. The idea has been that, over time, avoiding poisons would be good for health. Testing that theory would take many years.

    This is a comment posted to this Los Angeles Times article, Organic food no more nutritious than conventionally grown, review finds [latimes.com]: "I don't buy organic because I believe it has "extra" nutrients! I buy it because of the things it DOESN"T contain!!! Look at all the food recalls just this year."

    Another comment: "I have a friend who lives near several farms. He and his wife are both dying of cancer. The health department checked their well water and found it with high levels of farm pesticides. THAT is the cost of conventional farming in addition to the pesticide residue that you consume each time you eat conventionally grown produce."
  • Re:World improves (Score:5, Informative)

    by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Thursday July 30, 2009 @08:55AM (#28880583) Journal

    >>>but for the last 3 or so months that you were in the womb, you were floating in your own excrement.

    No your not. A baby's bottom is "plugged" with a semi-solid material that doesn't come-out until the first bowel movement (after birth). So no solid poop floating around. And all liquid waste material aka urea is removed directly from the baby's bloodstream by the umbilical cord.

  • Re:from TFA (Score:3, Informative)

    by dzfoo ( 772245 ) on Thursday July 30, 2009 @08:57AM (#28880607)

    The problem is not with the article or the study but from morons like yourself who extrapolate meaning outside the scope of the study and determine that because the study found there was the same nutritional value from organic and conventional foods that they were stating that conventionally produced food was just as healthy as organic.

    Actually, that's what the article claimed. The title of the BBC article was "Organic 'has no health benefits'", not "Organic 'has no better nutritional value'". Furthermore, the article states:

    There is little difference in nutritional value and no evidence of any extra health benefits from eating organic produce, UK researchers found.

    (my emphasis)

    I did read the article, but I wonder if you did.


  • Re:World improves (Score:4, Informative)

    by blueskies ( 525815 ) on Thursday July 30, 2009 @09:07AM (#28880695) Journal

    This study just showed that Organic food doesn't have significant more nutrients than non-organic.

    The review did not look at pesticides or the environmental impact of different farming practices.

    I'll modify their quote so it makes sense:

    "What it shows is that there is little, if any, nutritional difference between paintball bullets and conventionally bullets and that there is no evidence of additional health benefits from eating paintball bullets."

    The review did not look at the impact of being shot with conventional bullets, just the nutritional value.

    Really? I can give you two apples that have the same nutritional value but one has cyanide in it. Are you going to trust the study that doesn't look into the affects of poison in the food?

  • Re:from TFA (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 30, 2009 @09:16AM (#28880803)

    We could easily feed the whole world now if the corrupt third world governments weren't looting any aid they got sent. Sorry, but the problem is distribution, not production. Given population trends, we don't really need to worry about Malthus.

  • Misleading (Score:3, Informative)

    by codeButcher ( 223668 ) on Thursday July 30, 2009 @09:21AM (#28880851)

    OK, after reading comments I actually went back to read the fine article. Some points that struck me:

    • This study seems to have been only a review of 55 studies on the subject from the past 50 years. 107 studies have been rejected (and thus not included in the review).

      Peter Melchett, policy director at the Soil Association said they were disappointed with the conclusions.
      "The review rejected almost all of the existing studies of comparisons between organic and non-organic nutritional differences.

    • The methodology is not really clear, but the study seems to only have looked at the amount of certain nutrients contained in foods. It has not looked at the overall chemical makeup, which would also take into account harmful substances.
    • It's only my guess, but to really know whether certain foods have certain health benefits, is to feed said foods to a group of people over a period of time and compare their health before&after or to that of a control group. Assuming that certain nutrient quantities amount to good health, is basically saying you can be healthy by stocking up in the supplements aisle of your supermarket - and that has been disproven for some instances already.

      Continuing the Mellchett quote: "Without large-scale, longitudinal research it is difficult to come to far-reaching clear conclusions on this, which was acknowledged by the authors of the FSA review.

  • Re:World improves (Score:3, Informative)

    by Hijacked Public ( 999535 ) on Thursday July 30, 2009 @09:51AM (#28881283)

    You may already know this, but you wrote "I think" so I get an opening. Most tomatoes you buy in supermarkets are picked green and reddened with Ethlyene gas. That turns them bright red but doesn't change them structurally so they are still somewhat hard and transport well. They also don't develop as much fructose and taste like crap.

    With beef the Angus craze gives me a laugh. Advertising has led people to think that as long as you buy Black Angus beef you are getting the best steak around. But the benefits of Angus cattle accrue mostly to the people selling the beef, since their main difference is that they put on weight faster than other breeds. The pork industry is actually worse off in this regard. Chickens and Turkeys less so on the flavor side but more so on the pump-them-full-of-chemicals-so-they-grow-fast side.

  • Utter Ignorance (Score:5, Informative)

    by crmarvin42 ( 652893 ) on Thursday July 30, 2009 @10:45AM (#28882167)
    Please do me, and everyone else here, a favor and shut up unless you actually know what the hell you are talking about. I don't chime in on the discussions of different programing languages because I'd be completely out of my depth. You Obviously are out of your depth, along with most other /.ers, and should refrain from posting in these discussions unless it is to ask a question, because that is all you are educationally qualified to do.

    Contrary to popular belief, Organic food does use pesticides and fertilizers. They are just limited in which ones they are allowed to use. The pesticides are of older categories, derived from other plants, hence being acceptable as "organic". However, they are not as effective as the newer ones (which is why we use the newer ones in the first place) and in order to work effectively require much higher application rates (lbs/acre) and more frequent applications (10-12 times/season instead of 3-6).

    Even with the use of these "Organic" pesticides and fertlizers, they cannot produce the same number of bushels/acre. That means that they need to use more acres to grow the same amount of corn or soy. Never mind all of the diesel fuel consumed by running the tractor over more land more frequently in a given season.

    When it comes to animal agriculture it's even worse. Chickens have a Huge dietary requirement for the amino acid Methionine, but grains are poor sources of Methionine. In order to meet the requirement without doubling the number of days to market (from 7 to 14 weeks) all conventional, as well as all "Organic" broiler chicken diets contain a source of synthetic Methionine activity. All regulations governing organic animal production allow for a Methionine Exception.

    Without these exceptions, producers would be forced to either double days to market or achieve adequate Methionine levels by dramatically over feeding crude protein (~30% vs. the normal of ~20%). The excess amino acids that make up the Crude Protein would be catabolized and stored as fat, with their associated Nitrogen groups excreted as waste. Excess waste Nitrogen is a Huge environmental issue because Nitrogen is usually the rate limiting nutrient in saltwater environments. Excess Nitrogen from fields and composting poultry litter can end up getting into local water and causing Eutrophication.

    Alternatively in "Modern" broiler chicken diets you can actually feed diets containing as little as 12% Crude Protien, with extensive use of synthetic amino acids. This results in identical or occationally superior performance on the part of the growing birds, and Dramatically Reduced levels of Nitrogen in the animals waste. This also saves money for the producer, limits the potential for negative environmental impact, and is practically required if you are going to stay on the right side of environmental regulations here in the US.

    There is nothing "Environmentall Friendly" about Organic food. Organic food and Sustainability are actually antithetical to each other. I would say that buying organic food is financial masterbation, except that's not fair to masterbation. They both make you feel good, but only Organic food is actually bad for the environment.
  • Re:World improves (Score:2, Informative)

    by 10Neon ( 932006 ) on Thursday July 30, 2009 @11:05AM (#28882471)
    You might want to use a different fruit in your example, as apples contain cyanide naturally.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 30, 2009 @11:18AM (#28882661)

    omg [woodheadpublishing.com] chemicals [cspinet.org] are [fda.gov] teh [injuryboard.com] evilz [cornell.edu]

    I'm sure the overwhelming quantity of available information on the dangers of chemical additives and pesticides in food has been planted only recently by the organic food lobbyists to sway the opinion of us ignorant plebes (kind of like how God put fossils in the Earth to trick people into believing that the Earth was more than 5000 years old). So good of you to point this out.

    The higher price of organic food must also be a direct result of the organic food lobby. It certainly couldn't have anything to do with the true cost of pesticide-free food grown sustainably (which is what the fuck "organic" is supposed to mean, fyi). There is no way food grown in this manner could simply cost more to produce than pesticide-laden food grown in a manner that is environmentally destructive. Thanks for speaking truth to power.

  • Re:World improves (Score:3, Informative)

    by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Thursday July 30, 2009 @11:22AM (#28882709) Homepage Journal
    "Then either you're being robbed, or your taste buds have died. What has happened is that a lot of supermarkets have started carrying crap beef (USDA Select grade or equivalent), and some of them give it names with "prime" in it. The USDA grades are still judged by the amount of marbling, and USDA Prime has plenty of it. It also costs $15-$20+/lb for cuts used for steaks and most places don't carry it."

    I go by the USDA grading system...not that market talk of "angus" this or that.

    I recently bought a whole USDA Prime grade boneless rib roast and cut my own steaks from it. Yes, it was good...yes it was better than the choice or (ugh) select stuff.

    But todays Prime grade beef, does not have NEAR the same marbling that Prime grade beef had say in the 60's and 70's.

  • Re:from TFA (Score:5, Informative)

    by DerekLyons ( 302214 ) <fairwaterNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday July 30, 2009 @11:32AM (#28882837) Homepage

    I've heard your response many times as well - and it's wrong too.
    Cows in feedlots (which is where they gain over 60% of the final weight) don't eat grass, they eat grain. They don't gain weight from plant cellulose, they gain weight from starches and sugars.
    The grain they eat is grown on farming land that could be used to raise food directly for people, and consumes water that could be used to raise food directly for people. Which means rather than getting full value from that land and water - we get less than 10%.

  • Re:from TFA (Score:3, Informative)

    by amateur6 ( 1597289 ) * on Thursday July 30, 2009 @11:37AM (#28882919)

    "Plain wrong"? Nice try. Let's look at the inefficiencies of eating meat, shall we?

    One acre of land could produce 25 tons of tomatoes, 20 tons of potatoes, 15 tons of carrots... or 250 pounds of beef. (Dworkin, Norine, "22 Reasons to Go Vegetarian Right Now," Vegetarian Times, April 1999, p. 91.)

    It takes 100 times the amount of water to produce one pound of beef as to produce one pound of wheat. (Jeffrey Hollender. How to Make the World a Better Place, NY: William Morrow & Co., 1990: p. 122.)

    To produce a year's supply of beef for a family requires over 260 gallons of fossil fuel, or approximately one gallon of gasoline per pound of grain-fed beef. (Ibid)

    Two out of every three people in the world lead healthy lives eating primarily meatless diets. (2 Jeremy Rifkin. Beyond Beef: The Rise and Fall of the Cattle Culture. Dutton: New York, 1992.)

    As for the "what nature intended" aspect, a) what secondhand_Buddah said, or b) humanity is that which defies what "nature intends" otherwise we'd still be hunter-gatherers.

  • by Ornedan ( 1093745 ) on Thursday July 30, 2009 @11:47AM (#28883085)

    Because antibiotics are given constantly, regardless of whether the animal is sick or not. Which is an excellent way of making the antibiotic in question useless due to immunization of the bacteria.

  • by caseih ( 160668 ) on Thursday July 30, 2009 @12:09PM (#28883355)

    I can say a few of things. First I'm totally in favor of organic food because it lets farmers make more money without having to do much of anything differently (a tax on the gullible). Interestingly enough, I doubt most organic food connoisseurs really know what makes organic food "organic." It's not quite as simple as just "no chemicals," although that's a key part.

    Secondly the unwashed masses have pretty much demanded pesticides on fruits and veggies since blemished fruit doesn't sell (except in organic markets where blemishes and insect infestations are "features). Until we can convince people that it's okay for your apple to not be a perfect shade of red, there will continue to be unnecessary pesticide use.

    Thirdly, in the realm of weed control, years of over-tillage and over-use of herbicides have led us to a situation where herbicide resistance is a massive problem. Ironically this means that we're now more dependant than ever on new herbicides. But compared to pesticides, herbicides are quite benign. Most of them are not toxic after they touch the soil and break down into their constituent organic parts. Herbicides work in different ways. Some grow the plant to death. Others target photosynthesis, or stop plant growth. Personally I hate handling any chemicals. I'd love to be able to farm without them. But with weeds if you don't use herbicides the next year has an order of magnitude more weeds. So I think if they are used wisely we can get the food we need without harming the environment.

    Despite what people say about sustainable agriculture, "organic" farming as many people would like to see, is actually quite harmful (without controlling weeds) and certainly not sustainable as a food source for the whole world. Entropy and the principles of chaos rule this world, I'm afraid. Weeds thrive when we remove the native plants that previously held them at bay, for the sake of farming.

    As an aside, if people really understood how the food supply works in the developed world, they'd immediately stock up on food, at least a few months' worth. Our system is completely "just-in-time." All it would take is massive hemisphere crop failures from climate change or a volcano causing a cold spell,a nd we'd all be out of food. in just 3 or 4 months. Just like that. And massive crop failures have happened before (particularly in the southern hemisphere). I read once that the world wheat supply at any given time is about 3 months. Scary stuff.

  • Re:Utter Ignorance (Score:4, Informative)

    by DrLang21 ( 900992 ) on Thursday July 30, 2009 @02:09PM (#28885239)

    In order to actually be organic, they have to spend a lot of time and money getting approval from the USDA.

    This is inaccurate. To be certified organic, they would need to spend this effort. I find the whole "certified organic" thing to be dubious at best. I know some of the farmers I buy from. Many of them grow using the best practices of organic farming. They do not go through any effort to be "certified organic" because they don't market their produce through main stream grocery store chains. Word of mouth on the quality of their produce is good enough.

  • by crmarvin42 ( 652893 ) on Thursday July 30, 2009 @02:34PM (#28885671)
    which is most likely psychosomatic. If you pay more for something, you expect it to be better, and will believe it to be so even if in blind studies you can't tell the difference. It's all about what your expectations are going into it.

    Besides, if you are like me and 'eat to live' instead of 'live to eat' any percieved difference is usually not worth the cost.

"Well, it don't make the sun shine, but at least it don't deepen the shit." -- Straiter Empy, in _Riddley_Walker_ by Russell Hoban