Posted by Linda Bonvie
February 12, 2015
Every so often, some organization or publication tries to dismiss the value of organic foods. And it isn’t always whom you might expect, either. For example, one of the latest such attempts at disparagement came from the Susan B. Komen Foundation, the breast-cancer awareness organization of pink-ribbon fame, which declared on its website that” consumption of organic food is a controversial issue and high quality human research is lacking in this area” and that while “some studies have shown that organic food has a lower amount of pesticides …research has not confirmed that lower amounts of pesticides are causally related to preventing certain diseases or conditions.”
Had that come from the Grocery Manufacturers Association instead of a nonprofit supposedly dedicated to promoting wellness, it couldn’t have read any differently. But rather than causing most people to have second thought about organic food, what such a declaration really does is to make many readers of the site question the credibility and motives of the Komen organization.
And that’s especially so in light of the “high quality human research” that continues to support the health benefits of eating organic, such as the study recently published in Environmental Health Perspectives that found people who consumed little or no organic food had roughly twice as much organophosphates, a particularly pernicious class of pesticide, in their bodies as those whose diet was primarily organic.
Those results came from testing the urine of approximately 4,500 subjects who were asked to fill out an extensive questionnaire concerning their eating habits.
Noting that “diet is the primary source of organophosphate pesticide exposure” for most Americans, Dr. Cynthia Curl, an assistant professor at Boise State University’s School of Allied Health Sciences said this particular study suggests “that by eating organically grown versions of those foods highest in pesticide residues, we can make a measurable difference in the levels of pesticides in our bodies.”
Organophosphate residues are particularly apt to be found on such popular and nutritious fruits as apples, peaches, grapes, blueberries, pears and nectarines.
While studies have linked organophosphates to two kinds of cancer, leukemia and lymphoma, they’re particularly notorious in the area of brain and neurological health. They work by inhibiting an enzyme called acetylcholinesterase, which controls nerve impulses. The resulting interference with this biological process can lead to a variety of dysfunctions and neurological diseases, ranging from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) to Parkinson’s (which has been associated with proximity to applications of three organophosphates in particular – diazinon, chlorpyrifos and dimethoate). Higher exposures can result in everything from nausea and headaches to inability to breathe and convulsions to death.
Of course, the benefits of organic foods aren’t just limited to what they don’t contain. Last July, for example, an analysis of 343 studies done by a multinational group of experts, led by Newcastle University and published in the British Journal of Nutrition, concluded that organic crops and the foods made from them are up to 60 percent higher in key antioxidants than those that are conventionally grown.
So whenever you hear that organic foods aren’t worth whatever extra money they might cost, or are no different nutritionally than their conventional counterparts, you can reasonably surmise that there’s an “ulterior agenda” at work on the part of whomever or whatever organization is making any such spurious claim, whether it be an industry lobby or a nonprofit seeking corporate supporters.