Industry-funded study of the week: Organics, alas
I am a great believer in the value of organic production methods, which avoid the most toxic pesticides and herbicides, are demonstrably better for soil, and produce fewer greenhouse gases.
But I wish the organic industry would try to find a less conflicted, more objective way of conducting studies on organic foods.
The study: Production-related contaminants, pesticides, antibiotics, and hormones in organic and conventionally produced milk samples sold in the USA. JA Welsh, et al. Public Health Nutrition. Published online by Cambridge University Press: 26 June 2019. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S136898001900106X
Conclusions: “Current-use antibiotics and pesticides were undetectable in organic but prevalent in conventionally produced milk samples, with multiple samples exceeding federal limits. Higher bGH and IGF-1 levels in conventional milk suggest the presence of synthetic growth hormone. Further research is needed to understand the impact of these differences, if any, on consumers.”
Funding: Financial support: Data collection was supported by the Organic Center…. The Organic Center had no role in the design, analysis of samples, or writing of this article.
Conflict of interest: J.A.W.’s investment portfolio includes equity in one of the companies whose milk products were randomly selected for use in this study. All other authors have no perceived or potential conflicts of interest to report.
Comment: Organic standards are about production values. Antibiotics, toxic pesticides and herbicides, and genetic modification are not allowed in organic production and would not be expected to be detectable in organic milk. The result reassures that the system is working properly (why wouldn’t it?). But I wish it had been funded and conducted by investigators with no vested interest in its outcome. I am aware of the argument that independent funding is not available for studies like this. That’s a problem that the organic industry needs to solve.
Thanks to Stephanie Laverone for telling me about this study.