AmyTuteurMD

AmyTuteurMD
Bio
Dr. Amy Tuteur is an obstetrician-gynecologist. She received her undergraduate degree from Harvard College and her medical degree from Boston University School of Medicine. Dr. Tuteur is a former clinical instructor at Harvard Medical School.

Editor’s Pick
MARCH 13, 2009 9:08AM

The organic food scam

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It’s the holy grail of contemporary marketing: getting consumers to pay more for something that is worth less. When it comes to organic food, marketers have hit the jackpot.

How have consumers have been enticed to pay more for products that are potentially less safe than their conventional counterparts? The organic food scam depends on tapping into cultural myths about nature, playing upon widespread misunderstanding of risk, and flattering consumers into believing that those who choose organic food are “empowered.”.

The word “natural” is widely used to sell products. In Packaging as a Vehicle for Mythologizing the Brand researchers explore the connotations of “natural” in contemporary culture and the ways in these connotations are exploited to sell products.

Marketers of organic products depict the modern world as a deeply distorted reflection of what it originally was - the garden before agro-chemical technology. While the values of the past include family, tradition, authenticity, peace, and simplicity, the current era is associated with broken family ties that need to be restored, scientific "advances" that pose threats, constant pressure on the well-being of humans, and unnecessary complexity in everyday life.

Consider the concept of "naturalness":

Naturalness appears as a rich emotional construct that connects with positive contemporary images of nature... People do not want to remember that nature can also be destructive as in deadly hurricanes and poisonous mushrooms ... In a natural health context, Thompson also finds nature to be a positively framed powerful mythic construction; and his informants attribute magical, regenerative powers to nature. They firmly believe that aligning with what nature has to offer for one’s health lets them assert control over their lives and bodies versus losing control by being complicit in a scientized medical system.

There is nothing inherently better about “natural,” but contemporary mythology assumes that there is. The organic food industry exploits this mythology to imply that organic food is inherently better.

In addition, marketing professionals exploit the lack of understanding about risk. We routinely panic about insignificant health risks (high tension wires, X-rays) and routinely ignore large health risks (driving without a seatbelt, tanning). Hence, consumers routinely obsess about insignificant health risks that have never even been shown to occur (pesticides, hormones) and routinely ignored large health risks (foodborne illness caused by bacteria like E. coli and salmonella in the animal waste used as fertilizer) that have been associated with widespread outbreaks of illness and even death.

David Ropeik discusses the causes of misperception of risk in his article The Consequences of Fear. Two factors, control and origin, are especially relevant for understanding the misperception of food risks.

Risks over which we feel as though we exercise control are routinely perceived to be smaller than risks that are imposed from outside.

… Roughly 20% of Americans still do not wear safety belts in motor vehicles… [T]his is, in part, because we have a sense of control when we are behind the wheel, and the risk of crashing is both familiar and chronic—factors that make risks seem less threatening...

In other words, people not only tolerate the substantial risk of not wearing a seatbelt, but they perceive the risk to be relatively small, when, in fact, it is relatively large compared to risks that evoke more fear, like the risk of a plane crash or a terrorist attack. Similarly, consumers of organic food tolerate the real and substantial risk of illness from pathogens in manure, but fear the effects of pesticides, which have never been shown to cause illness.

Origin is important to consumers, too. The risks of technology are widely perceived to be greater than risks from nature, neatly dovetailing with the culture mythology surrounding “nature.” For example:

...many people fail to protect themselves adequately from the sun, in part because the sun is natural … However, solar radiation is widely believed to be the leading cause of melanoma, which will kill an estimated 7,910 Americans this year.

Hence the imagined and undocumented (and possibly non-existent) risk of pesticides in food are perceived as greater than the real and documented risks of serious illness and death associated with the bacteria found in manure fertilizer.

Ultimately, these myths are joined in service of the over-arching myth, that of the "enobled and empowered" consumer:

... [A]ll the significance attached by [marketing professionals] to the products transforms otherwise powerless consumers into the powerful marketplace players. As a result, newly empowered consumers can temporarily escape imposed world conditions by shaping their personal myths and servicing their individual lives. Thus, myths of the past are meaningfully used to serve the present.

Marketers of organic food are not allowed to claim that the food is safer or more nutritious, since it is neither. However consumers are led to believe that by choosing “natural” food grown with “no pesticides,” they are making an “empowered” choice of safer and healthier food. In that way, they can be induced to pay more for food that may actually be worth less.

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Tell that to my bowels as they protest from non-organic produce.
Wow AmyTuteurMD:

F A I L

Organic foods are not more dangerous; I can think of little more dangerous than ingesting preservatives, growth hormones, modified genetics, pesticides, herbicides, need I go on, etc. on a daily basis. No wonder the common apple has 1/6th the nutrients it did just 80 years ago.

Hey, did you know a lactose-intoloerent individual can drink raw milk. Pasteurization destroys all the good enzymes as well as the bad, including lactate, which breaks down lactose. This is why you can leave a cup of raw milk on the counter for weeks, and it does not smell; you can even drink it... I do.

I truly am saddened by people like you; you've probably raised your child to think like you do. So sad.
Oh, and organic food costs less... it's called GYO and CSA; look it up.
Tercessiti:

"I can think of little more dangerous than ingesting preservatives, growth hormones, modified genetics, pesticides, herbicides,"

You've just proved my point for me.

You have literally no idea what the "dangers" of preservatives, etc are. You have literally no idea how they compare to the dangers of foodborne illness and death. You've been scammed and you don't even realize it when it's pointed out to you.
HUBRIS.
HUBRIS.
HUBRIS!
Interesting post. I have often wondered that if our food supply was so toxic how come our life expectancy continues to increase.

Have there actually been studies that prove that pesticides are not harmful or is the lack of scientific evidence what you are baseing your conclusions on?
Arthur James,

You don't have an actual argument and you don't know the data. Thanks for pointing that out.
RogerF:

"Have there actually been studies that prove that pesticides are not harmful or is the lack of scientific evidence what you are baseing your conclusions on?"

To my knowledge, there have never been any deaths attributed to food grown with the aid of pesticides.

My main point, though, is that organic food is a marketing scam. It is a multibillion dollar business with sophisticated marketing efforts. Those marketing efforts play on people's lack of knowledge about specific risks, and their misunderstanding of risk in general ... and those marketing efforts are so successful that people don't even understand that they have been manipulated.
My husband and I eat organic food not primarily because of the health benefits (although I do believe that these do exist: organically grown tomatoes, for example, have been shown to contain higher levels of beneficial flavonoids), but because we believe that ecologically responsible consumption is a moral responsibility. It is difficult, if not impossible, to deny the ecological damage caused by the vast quantities of synthetic fertilizers that have been used for the past several decades. Organically grown food, particularly mass-produced organically grown food, certainly is not perfect in ecological terms, but it is by far the more responsible choice. In this regard, organic food is not a scam.
mabinogi:

"Organically grown food, particularly mass-produced organically grown food, certainly is not perfect in ecological terms, but it is by far the more responsible choice."

That is certainly a much more defensible reason for choosing organic food, but it is not clear that it is true, either. All farming involves manipulating the environment. There is no particular reason to think that dumping manure on food is an environmental improvement over pesticides. That's because "natural" harms (E. coli, salmonella, etc, which are highly evolved to sicken humans) are often far more virulent than technological harms.
AmyTuteurMD:
I operate a CSA and organic Blueberry Hill Vegetable Farm. My family manages the farmland better than I do. You have deleted me, and those "deletes" were not offensive. You are the one who rats from ignorance.
You seem to be an ex-spurt about everything. How did you get so full of HUBRIS?
O, Respectfully,
`
Literary expurgation. Ya collect the vile propaganda for innocent humans to consume. Baloney. You condescend whenever you are challenged. A "do-goody" and very dangerous to whoever reads you as an authoritarian. You are coarse, and not a sweet person in your disposition. I opine that here @ Open Salon. What progress? We will poison a Earth? Economies fall.
We will support a FALSE economy?
O, spend time reading Amy the doc?
You do not seem to be a cure. Serious.
Physician heal. You are not sustainable?
Scrutiny. You? No common sense wisdoms.
I best allow others to address you. You shock.
The sensibilities of a human? Ya give toothaches!
You are quite a whizz-bang. Technically, you a fraud. sorry. I see little dignity and respect for various diverse dialogue. You are indignant, and shut-down. I read you and feel nausea. Honest.
Arthur James:

"You have deleted me, and those "deletes" were not offensive."

I have not deleted you. If you tried to put a link in your comment, OS may failed to post it.

"I operate a CSA and organic Blueberry Hill Vegetable Farm."

In other words, you have an economic interest in perpetuating the scam. Do you have any scientific evidence for anything, or are you just going to hurl insults?
Roger, I think there are many reasons for increasing life expectancy - we have done many good things regarding public health, like safe (mostly!) drinking water, sewage disposal, vaccinations and inoculations, pasteurization (Tercessiti, Pasteur is responsible for saving countless lives and suffering).

I think chemicals and whatnot have increased the food supply, especially of fresh for those of us in winter areas, but that doesn't mean it's risk-free - I think we need to scale back, have less chemicals in our food supply (eat locally, from 'clean' farms and there's greenhouse technology now for winter areas) and in our environment generally.

Things too often look good at the present moment (hey, asbestos, neat stuff) that turns up problems down the line...
"That is certainly a much more defensible reason for choosing organic food, but it is not clear that it is true, either. All farming involves manipulating the environment. There is no particular reason to think that dumping manure on food is an environmental improvement over pesticides. That's because "natural" harms (E. coli, salmonella, etc, which are highly evolved to sicken humans) are often far more virulent than technological harms."

Actually, it is true. Of course all agriculture is manipulating the environment, but the extent and impact of the manipulation varies greatly. Look at it this way: manure is still going to be produced, with or without organic agriculture. When we don't incorporate it into agriculture, it becomes a concentrated, toxic waste--look up articles on environmental issues surrounding CAFOs--that then has to be treated at great expense or it will contaminate nearby bodies of water. When manure is used in organic agriculture, it is much less concentrated, and thus less likely to have negative impacts to surrounding ecosystems.

One of the biggest problem with modern agriculture is that we have created a huge, huge quantity of synthetic nitrogen, thus upsetting the nitrogen balance in many places across the globe. This has far-reaching effects, including the eutrophication of many, many marine and freshwater ecosystems. In terms of human health (not my area of expertise), agricultural inputs of synthetic nitrates into the environment have been associated with increases in incidents of Lymphoma.

I'd be happy to provide citations for you. You'll find I am well-versed on much of the literature pertaining to environmental impacts of industrial agriculture.
Amy. I'll not read you. You have deleted me. It's a fact.
And you know it. It was one time. I stopped reading you awhile back. The topic today was too tempting. I doubt I ever made minimum wage, My son worked at DC National Bonsai (Federal government) Aboretium (spelled wrong).
William Penn spoke of "lofty yet narrow" people who despised thr native people.
Moods, participles, verbs, adverbs, conjunctions, interjections, and Whoa ... HUBRIS!
I am sad to say this.
Your words are harsh.
You are not a sweet person.
You are ignorant. Read Wendell Berry etc., You educate yourself. O. A yea-or-nay... a take-it-or-leave it transaction. I feel all could say would be casting a precious pearl and you would trample it like a sweet potato.
I choose to not stomach you,
AmyTutorMD. You only make me sad.
Pitiful. Presumption. Ya No bright soul.
There is no twinkle of light in your eyes.
Pomp. Arrogance. Disagreeable. Trite.
To try to nurture truth your way is vain.
O, hidden Vulgarism. Masked. Repugnant.
A stage-player on Open Salon I will ignore.
A rogue. O, Ya give who lashes? No respect?
Read naturalist. Join a agricultural society.
I'd rather not be nauseated. Bad entertain.
You are no amusement. Nature entertains.
You seem replete with Pomp and boast. 0.
mabinogi:

"One of the biggest problem with modern agriculture is that we have created a huge, huge quantity of synthetic nitrogen, thus upsetting the nitrogen balance in many places across the globe."

Sure, but we've also dramatically increased food production so that more people are eating well and living longer.

Malthus believed that mass starvation was inevitable because the natural growing capacity of the land would be exhausted. That hasn't happened because of technological developments like fertilizer.

Obviously everything has impacts, but, on balance, fertilizers, pesticides and farming technology have improved life and life expectancy for millions, and it is far from clear that even a single individual has been hurt by those advances.
I agree that the "organic" label is probably misused by some for marketing purposes, and that many conventional foods are perfectly safe. However, the routine use of antibiotics in "conventionally raised" meat is troubling to me--wouldn't you expect that to cause resistance in other animals? Like people? I wouldn't expect people to get sick from eating meat raised that way, but I would think it would ultimately lead to a more harmful environment for everyone, which is one of the reasons people choose organic food. I'd be interested to hear your view on the use of antibiotics.
Amy: You're completely disregarding my argument on ecological impacts, and returning to the effects on human health. You say "...fertilizers, pesticides and farming technology have improved life and life expectancy for millions," but this same technology has led to the deaths of millions of other creatures, and the extinctions of many species. I know that this is a controversial stance, and one with which you will not agree, but I do not believe that our species is inherently more valuable than any other. (Then, that's why I am an ecologist and not a physician.)

Also, re: "it is far from clear that even a single individual has been hurt by those advances," please check out the following article:
Mary, HW, et al. Drinking Water Nitrate and the Risk of Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Epidemiology, Vol. 7, No. 5 (Sep., 1996), pp. 465-471. Agricultural nitrogen has also been shown to contribute significantly to smog; evidence of the negative impacts of smog on human health is widespread. An article summarizing many of the impacts of nitrogen on human health can be found here: http://ambio.allenpress.com/perlserv/?request=get-document&doi=10.1639%2F0044-7447(2002)031[0120%3ARNAHHA]2.0.CO%3B2&ct=1

There have also been some indications that industrial (non-organic) livestock practices are contributing to the prevalence of MRSA in humans. If this is verified, I'd say that's a pretty substantial harm to human health.

OK, time for me to get back to work!
Teapot13:

"I wouldn't expect people to get sick from eating meat raised that way, but I would think it would ultimately lead to a more harmful environment for everyone, which is one of the reasons people choose organic food. I'd be interested to hear your view on the use of antibiotics."

There shouldn't be antibiotics in animal feed, because that can contribute to antibiotic resistance. It's not clear, though, that it harms the environment overall. Deaths from infectious diseases are going down, not up.
If it's a scam, why does the FDA regulate it?
hollycomesalive:

"If it's a scam, why does the FDA regulate it?"

It doesn't.
A good friend of mine is an organic, free-range farmer. He is a very honest man who has literally spent his life working the land and ethically raising his animals. When he tells me: "Holly, if people knew what was actually in the meat they eat, they wouldn't eat it", I believe him.

About the antibiotics, he says it works like this: Commercial pig farmers will put 100 pigs into the size of your living room. Unfortunately, when pigs are crammed together like that, they bite each other's tails and ears off. So, the farmers cut off their tails and ears. But then these wounds sometimes get infected. Then they have to give the pigs antibiotics. Alternatively, my friend puts ten to fifteen pigs on several acres. No need for cutting off their body parts (other than the testicles since testosterone can taint the meat- but some people like that testosterone taste).

Here in NC, small time horticulturalists and agriculturalists aren't living in your ivory Bostonian tower, and the people who are here on the ground with their feet in the muck are reporting a much, much different story than you, that's for sure. I'm much more inclined to believe those hard working men and women.
Yeah, they do. (USDA-FDA)

http://usda-fda.com/Articles/Organic.htm
Here's an actual government link:

http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/ams.fetchTemplateData.do?template=TemplateA&navID=NationalOrganicProgram&leftNav=NationalOrganicProgram&page=NOPNationalOrganicProgramHome&acct=nop
I'd say you qualify for a Darwin award, Amy. PLEASE feed your children pesticide and hormone laden foods. When your little boys can't produce sperm and the girls get ovarian and breast cancer due to the estrogenic effect of those additives, your line will die out. I'm just sorry for your kids paying the price of your ignorance and yes, hubris.
This article is utter trash. She hasn't a shred of data to back her claims.
Try this little experiment. Take one organic steak and one factory farm steak and grill them in different pans but otherwise under the same conditions. I, for one, can smell the difference right away, and know which is the organic meat. It smells better.

Now, taste them. I, for one, find organic meat tastes way better, and if you are lucky enough to have a good butcher nearby who handles organic meat, the cost is not that much more. I happen to have such a butcher in my neighbourhood, but I actually prefer a vegetarian diet. Not for ethical, moral reasons: it simply makes me feel better.

Having said that, I do agree that the world "natural" is overvalued. I know of one person who is determine to overcome his gout using diet and Chinese herbal medicine. I know from personal experience that this disease sooner or later gets the better of you unless you resort to modern medicine like allopurinol. I personally have experienced no side effects from this drug, and I understand those who do are relatively rare. Meanwhile, the condition of my friend going with Chinese medicine is getting worse.

(Please do not thake this as a slight against Chinese medicine or naturopathy. In other instances, many of their practices and theories seem sound.)

Anyway, think about it: humanity, even when it is wrecking its environment, is a part of nature -- no less so than lemmings. Does that not mean the medicine produced by humans is "natual" in the wider scheme of things? It is only by separating oneself from nature that you equate "manmade" with "unnatural". Why is a dam made by beavers natural, while one buit by humans is not?

So organic can be good, but not because it is "natural", because everything is natural. Organic can also be naturally harmful if proper caution is not taken. That is my wishy-washy two cents (Canadian).
Is organic food better? Perhaps not directly. But when you consider that 99% of pesticides do not end up where they are supposed to, but instead end up in fresh water ecosystems, organic is the way to go. If you like fish or shrimp, in my view you have a responsibility to buy organic fruits and vegetables. Currently there are vast dead zones in both freshwater and seawater ecosystems due in large part to pesticide runoff. The bottom line, you cannot accurately assess the situation merely by looking at the direct result of organic food (namely, you gotta wash it to prevent the risks you speak of), but you need to look at the side effects of pesticide use at scale. Ignoring the unintended effects of pesticide use does you no good.
People, don't worry about Amy's bitter attack on the increasing preference of people to buy organic foods.
She will lose this fight too. There are too many people (equally and better informed) who think the other way for her to win.
Ha Ha, Amy.
Dr. Amy replied:
"To my knowledge, there have never been any deaths attributed to food grown with the aid of pesticides."

This is not what I was hoping for. To claim that the benefits of organically raised food are a myth (you might be right) I would like to see results of peer reviewed scientific studies, not simply your disclosure that you have no knowledge that pesticide related death has ever happened.
Studies have suggested that organic is better for you. Here's a Huffington Post summary. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mairi-beautyman/two-uncomplicated-reasons_b_107746.html
Thanks Medbh, I'll check it out. RF
Sometimes, Amy your satire is genius! This was the best tongue in cheek article I've ever read! I almost fell for it!

hahahahahahahahahaha! Genius! I'll take clean manure over Agent Orange anyday!

I mean, you WERE kidding, right?

Yeah, you had to be.
I write an entire post about how marketing professionals use cultural myths and misperception of risk to con consumers, and all the comments merely recycle the cultural myths and misperceptions of risk. You're proving my point for me.

There is NO scientific evidence that organic food is more nutritious or safer, and considerable epidemiological evidence that it is responsible for as many or more episodes of foodborne illness than conventional food. If you think otherwise, YOU have to present scientific evidence that shows otherwise.

I will address some comments specifically below, but thusfar no one has done anything but recycle the myths they fell for in the first place.
Amy:

This is a worthy contribution to the conversation As a skeptic and one who admires science and reason. I appreciate many of the points you make.

But you need to look deeper, too.

Your bias is against liberals, just as my bias is for them, at times. It colors your arguments here. So many myths abound, it is easy and useful to deflate them, but you are simply, demonstrably wrong about some things here.

I have gardened using organic and inorganic methods for decades. I had an 80 acre farm at one point. I have no economic interest in any aspect of farming, tho.

Under the general rubric of "organic" are many effective, sustainable techniques. Organic advocates often cite older, proven techniques as superior, and, while sometimes wrong, are often more right than Monsanto. Case in point: crop rotation fell out of favor with the newfangled agri-industry experts in the 1920s and led directly to the dust bowl effect. A return to rotation and other techniques consistent with "organic" philosophy stopped it.

Only someone who has never seen industrial farming would blithely judge it co-equal with small, intensive farming. I grew up in Kansas. The effluvia, waste products and noisome impact of factory farms are NOT superior environmentally, and not desirable.

But you are correct that they constitute a miracle. Modern agriculture gets short shrift, even demonization, by pro-organics. It is just silly. We have achieved astonishing rates of production that could, unimpeded by market realities, end hunger word wide in weeks.

I serve on the board of the oldest community gardens in the US and am alone in admiring some aspects of US agribusiness. And in recognizing the emptiness of much of what is deemed "natural".

The distinctions about inorganic vs organic fertilizer, while not as simple as you state it, are nonetheless moot for many products.

But not all. DDT was banned for good reason, as were many other products and configurations that were used until recent decades.

We would be very foolish to pretend that the nutritional content of an American meal of 1960 is equivalent to a meal today. Unripe tomatoes, blasted with gas, taste like crap and have marginal nutritional value compared to heirloom varieties I grow. This is not always true (apparently coles are slightly more nutritious when factory grown), but usually true. The science is overwhelming; visit Cornell extension labs (http://www.cce.cornell.edu/).

But it goes beyond nutrition. Our water tables are awash in anti-biotics. It makes sense to eat Vermont cheeses to limit this. Factory farming is carbon-fuel intensive; growing and selling locally is a good alternative.

Green garden groups are bringing fresh vegetables into poorer urban areas where vegetables equals the green soggy layer in the Big Mac.

Modern agriculture literature is full of stopgap and constant re-thinking about large-scale farming and husbandry, to fix the perennial un-sustainability of the Green Miracle.

It can be improved, is the point, and "organic" philosophy has made valuable contributions.

Would I trade "organic" in order to end hunger, using mass-production techniques? You bet. We in fact are living within that experiment, sort of. But it is a false dichotomy. Modern agriculture delivers, today, a richer variety, more intense flavors, and localized sustainablity than ever before,Because consumers demanded it, having tasted organic alternatives

Agribusiness has accomplished miracles but they were dopes about consumer quality concerns. Only a profit-centered moron would think consumers would forever be satisfied with styrofoam tomatoes. Cheaper to make does not equal better.
Aaron Rury:

"To what I understand, and I will have to find the links, organic food has more nutrients than food grown with pesticides. This is an evolutionary manifestation."

Your post if filled with absurdities, but this is the most absurd. Evolution takes thousands of years. No evolutionary changes in plants is going to take place in our millenium let alone our lifetime. The only way to change food faster is by genetic manipulation.
mabinogi:

"Mary, HW, et al. Drinking Water Nitrate and the Risk of Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Epidemiology, Vol. 7, No. 5 (Sep., 1996), pp. 465-471."

Have you read it? Then you don't know what it says.

The study is out of date, has never been replicated, and is based on estimates, not measurements.

In fact, Ward herself has written a more recent paper that shows no association between nitrates and non-hodgkins lymphoma. The paper appears in Epidemiology:Volume 17(4) pp 375-382 and was published in July 2006.
http://www.misa.umn.edu/vd/bourn.pdf

Decisive, peer-reviewed study demonstrating the moderate, inconsistent, but clear nutritional advantages of organic in most categories.
(A Comparison of the Nutritional Value, Sensory
Qualities, and Food Safety of Organically and
Conventionally Produced Foods
Diane Bourn and John Prescott
Department of Food Science, University of Otago, PO Box 56, Dunedin, New Zealand
Referee: Dr. William Lockeretz, Professor, School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Tufts University, Medford, MA 12155)

See page 6, 8-12 charts etc.

Before pro-organics crow, tho: the arc of Amy's whole point in raising this is also sustained here. Organic is not a panacea, not a Holy Good. Being better is demonstrable, but pro-organics go nuts sometimes, as it were,with black-and-white assesments.

It is sobering to see how organic, per se, guarantees nothing. It is a vegetable-by-vegetable, technique-by-technique thing. And still evolving.
hollycomesalive:

"Yeah, they do."

No, they don't. The USDA has set a definition for "organic" and checks that products meet that definition. They do not monitor those products for nutrition or safety.
Ah- Dr. Amy is falling into the trap of the 'omniscient doctor'. Pesticides must be safe since I haven't seen a report indicating the contrary.
Well forgive me for being more skeptical than the skeptical OB. But until I see a report that shows these chemicals to be demonstrably safe in people AND ESPECIALLY IN CHILDREN. I will contrinue to buy organic food for my kids.
Natural is better, if only for the fact that we have co-evolved with these traditional natural foods. We have not co-evolved with these chemicals.
Whn it comes to nutrition and preventive health, doctors are a long way away from knowing everything. Dietary advice changes every week. So you will have to forgive me if I don't trust your safety verdict on chemicals and pesticides.
Ardee:

"When your little boys can't produce sperm and the girls get ovarian and breast cancer due to the estrogenic effect of those additives, your line will die out."

Any scientific evidence for that claim? No, right?
Tim Jacobs:

"But when you consider that 99% of pesticides do not end up where they are supposed to, but instead end up in fresh water ecosystems, organic is the way to go."

Where's the scientific evidence of harm? There isn't any.
Aaron Rury:

"The reason that there is not much data out there right now is because of suppression of studies."

Oooh, a conspiracy!

That is such baloney. Organic food is a multi billion dollar INDUSTRY. It is not a bunch of hippies growing food in their backyards. If that industry had any scientific claims to support it, you can bet that they wouldn't be relying on vague innuendo about "nature."
Greg Correll:

"The science is overwhelming;"

It's not overwhelming. It's non-existent. If you believe otherwise, go out and read some studies and quote the relevant portions. Your claims are nothing more than the marketing myths of the organic industry. They are not based in fact.
Um, Amy, I did cite one such (see above). Peer-reviewed, normative science. One of many such. I assume you haven't seen it yet.

You are right to request it. But, my admirable and estimable friend, you are simply wrong about this one point. The science is very good. You need to re-think a bit, based on the evidence.
Greg Correll,

Here's the abstract of the paper you quoted:

"It is evident from this assessment that there are few well-controlled studies that are capable of making a valid comparison. With the possible exception of nitrate content, there is no strong evidence that organic and conventional foods differ in concentrations of various nutrients... While it is likely that organically grown foods are lower in pesticide residues, there has been very little documentation of residue levels."

In other words, there have been hardly any studies; there is no evidence that organic food is nutritionally different; and there is no evidence that organic food is lower in pesticide residues.
icemilkcoffee:

"Natural is better, if only for the fact that we have co-evolved with these traditional natural foods."

Yes, that is the cultural myth that you have chosen to believe, but there is no evidence of that.

Brushing your teeth, washing your hands, taking vitamins, going to the dentist, having regular check ups, preventive medicine: none of these are natural and all of them improve health.

As I quoted above:

"Marketers of organic products depict the modern world as a deeply distorted reflection of what it originally was - the garden before agro-chemical technology. While the values of the past include family, tradition, authenticity, peace, and simplicity, the current era is associated with broken family ties that need to be restored, scientific "advances" that pose threats, constant pressure on the well-being of humans, and unnecessary complexity in everyday life."

You've fallen for those marketing myths.
Good for you! You refuted the most minor of the many (valid) points I made in my comments. What about the others? I'd Love to hear your responses to those. Thanks.
Statements like this

You don't have an actual argument and you don't know the data.

are why I have dubbed most of your posts the Judging Amy column.

There are studies, tests, papers etc. likely published for any opinion anyone posted here should those who posted wish to do the research.

You are an M.D. and you know how to do that research. Doesn't mean no other research that you have not read does not exist.
And it does not mean that those without a Dr. or M.D. are absolute morons.

I worked for many years as technical editor for a toxicological research firm. We specialized in expert testimony vs. the opposition's expert testimony of public health officials. Here is the basic argument of every case. Toxicologist from my firm: there is no controlled scientific experiment so there is no proof. Public Health expert: there is cumulative data from observations of real life effects. It was generally up to the judge to read all the material and sort out the truth in the middle there somewhere.

Your judgmental responses on any subject are so tiresome. Being an OB/GYN does not make you an expert in every scientific subject ever published in whatever you read and rehashed this morning.
Amy, with all due respect, you are cherry-picking. Chill a bit here. As I noted, the paper supports both points of view, in limited and special ways.

You did not really read it.

Please, Amy, and everyone: read that PDF. It shows, line by line, on the charts i noted, that many organic foods have somewhat higher nutrients. Not all, and not uniformly.

You asked for it, and here is a peer-reviewed study that answers that challenges, in minor and specific ways, your broad statements about NO organic nutrient differences. If you want to make a case that more studies might show otherwise, sure. But don't make the same mistake you accuse others of: to ignore real science, however thin, just because it confounds your position.

And to such a small degree!

I am still looking. I might have to eat a little crow with MY broad assertion about it being "overwhelming".

See? not so hard! ;)
Don't want to enter this fray with both feet, just one toe.

Harm from pesticides? Just off the top of my blonde haired head there are proven cases of migrant farm workers experiencing off the chart rates of miscarriage and birth defects. I can look up the cases for you if you don't believe me.

Environmental destruction from the use of pesticides? Well, there are so many examples but here are two of the biggest, literally; the Chesapeake Bay (pretty much whole thing) and the Gulf Mexico (prone to ever increasing dead zones attributed to nitrogen rich fertilizer run off from the Mississippi).

DDT is a pesticide, care for some of that in your Kool Aid.

Arsenic too.

No, organic farms aren't perfect but they're a start. And Amy, if you have a garden at home and intend on using any pesticides on your roses, or whatever, I encourage you to read the warning label on the back.

You're not a stupid woman Amy, obviously, but some of the things you write, and your attitude comes off worse and more ignorant than anything Ann Coulter says. I also think you deliberately wrack your brain to choose topics and write about them in suck a way as to gain attention, even negative attention, well maybe especially negative attention. I don't get it. There are so many things you could write about that would actually help people, but maybe it the adrenalin rush of controversy that trumps all for you. Whatever.
Ablonde:

"I can look up the cases for you if you don't believe me."

I don't believe you. Please cite the cases that show that eating food treated with pesticides is harmful.
Greg Correlle:

"It shows, line by line,"

No, it doesn't. That's why the AUTHOR concluded that it doesn't.
Dorinda Fox:

"Your judgmental responses on any subject are so tiresome."

Why do you keep parachuting in to offer your view on me? How about contributing some scientific facts?
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17297755

From that study's abstract:

"Organic crops contain a significantly higher amount of certain antioxidants (vitamin C, polyphenols and flavonoids) and minerals, as well as have higher dry matter content than conventional ones. Moreover, there is a lower level of pesticide residues, nitrate and some heavy metal contaminations in organic crops compared to conventional ones. There is a relationship between the different fertilisation and plant protection methods of these two plant production systems and the nutritional composition of crops. Consequently, it can be concluded that organically produced plant derived food products have a higher nutritional value, including antioxidants than conventional ones. Furthermore, due to the fact that there is a lower level of contamination in organic crops, the risk of diseases caused by contaminated food is significantly reduced."
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17763041?ordinalpos=1&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DiscoveryPanel.Pubmed_Discovery_RA&linkpos=2&log$=relatedarticles&logdbfrom=pubmed

from abstract (supporting BOTH our positions!)

"Results showed that the vast majority of organic farming products were in conformity with the relevant legislation and did not contain detectable pesticide residues. A limited amount of samples had residues at concentration below the Maximum Residue Limit (MRL). Only in one sample the residue level was above the MRL, however it did not pose a concern for public health, as demonstrated by the outcomes of dietary risk assessment. Organic fruits and vegetables can be expected to contain fewer agrochemical residues than conventionally grown alternatives. There is a widespread belief that organic agriculture products are safer and healthier than conventional foods. It is difficult to come to conclusions, but what should be made clear to the consumer is that "organic" does not automatically equal "safe". In the absence of adequate comparative data, additional studies in this area of research are required."
Greg Correll:

"http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17297755"

Oh, please. This is an article in Hungarian. Obviously you didn't read it. You have no idea what it really says.

The fact that you are already reduced to citing articles in obscure foreign languages is a very impressive indication that there isn't any evidence for your claims.
Greg Correll is being the voice of reason and everyone is shouting over him.

The greatest thing about the Internet is that it gave everyone a voice. The worst things about the Internet is that it gave everyone a voice. Can't recall who said that. I hope whoever it was does not mind me repeating it here.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8776987?ordinalpos=1&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DiscoveryPanel.Pubmed_Discovery_RA&linkpos=3&log$=relatedreviews&logdbfrom=pubmed

From that abstract, establishing a strong corollary between reduced use of pesticides and reduced incidences of poisoning etc

The quantity of pesticides as active ingredient (ai) sold for use in agriculture, horticulture, and forestry decreased from a total of 22,800 tons during 1981-1985 to 8450 tons in 1991-1995, a 63% reduction. Published data on pesticide residues in domestically grown fruits and vegetables show that the proportion of cases of reported residues higher than 20% of the maximum residue limit has decreased only slightly, from 6.9% to 6.2%. Residues in imported food crops of the same type increased from 31% to 37%. Overall, the achieved 63% reduction of quantities used may have resulted in only a 10% reduction in number of cases of reported residues. A forthcoming report on pesticide intake via food from the National Food Administration may shed light on any trends in actual residue levels. The degree of goal fulfillment for the pesticide residue monitoring program and for pesticide residue levels in food is difficult to judge because of imprecise goal formulations. An estimate of the potential acute health hazard to the pesticide users, based on quantities and acute toxicity of individual pesticides, indicates that the acute health hazard in terms of "acute toxicity equivalents" decreased by 71%. The number of poisonings caused by acute exposure at the workplace has decreased between 1984 and 1994, whereas the number of mostly harmless incidents at home has increased. The decline in workplace-related accidents and the favorable pattern and low frequency of pesticide poisonings in Sweden compared to many other countries, especially developing countries, is the result of several factors, such as the mandatory training of workers using pesticides professionally, severe restrictions in availability of pesticides for use in households, and withdrawal from the market of the most toxic pesticides. To improve the worrisome global situation, it would seem appropriate that the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization pay greater attention to the need for promotion of restrictions on availability of highly toxic and other pesticides, as recommended by FAO and WHO in 1975 (WHO/FAO 1975).
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12028642?ordinalpos=1&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DiscoveryPanel.Pubmed_Discovery_RA&linkpos=4&log$=relatedarticles&logdbfrom=pubmed

From that abstract:

"Organically grown foods consistently had about one-third as many residues as conventionally grown foods, and about one-half as many residues as found in IPM/NDR samples. Conventionally grown and IPM/NDR samples were also far more likely to contain multiple pesticide residues than were organically grown samples. Comparison of specific residues on specific crops found that residue concentrations in organic samples were consistently lower than in the other two categories, across all three data sets. The IPM/NDR category, based on data from two of the test programmes, had residues higher than those in organic samples but lower than those in conventionally grown foods."
Greg Correll:

"From that abstract, establishing a strong corollary between reduced use of pesticides and reduced incidences of poisoning etc"

What are you talking about? The poisoning discussed in this paper is people being poisoned by the pesticides themselves, not by food.
I pause here.

Amy: you are not who I thought you were.

To dis the poor Hungarians? and the Americans and the Danish etc that I cite? all of them have done bad studies?

You. asked. for .citations.

Of course I don't read Hungarian. But I can read the abstract, as you did, way up there.

You and I are not scientists in this or any related field. We are comparing abstracts. Changing the rules midstream is akin to a logical fallacy, something I had thought beneath you. We can ONLYdebate based on abstracts, and the barrier you set was very, very low: to refute your assertion that organics & commercial foods have NO nutritional differences.

I have met your terms and provided many that at least show modest differences.

Have you no grace at all? Or are you another True Believer after all? Say it ain't so, Joe.

sigh.
"What are you talking about? The poisoning discussed in this paper is people being poisoned by the pesticides themselves, not by food."

The paper discusses the risks of pesticide residue on food. Do you really not see the connection between this article and the discussion surrounding your post?
Greg Correll:

"We are comparing abstracts."

No, we're not. What's worse, you don't even understand the abstracts you are reading.

There's no data to show that organic food is better in any way than conventional food and you haven't cited anything that changes that fact.
(true: the pesticide one speaks to a different point you made; i impulsively included it. but your broad assertions above, that pretend that pesticides are not a cause for concern, is refuted by a truly overwhelming array of pesticide dangers studies. since when is workplace danger for agricultural workers NOT significant? Organic farms don't have this danger. it is very much to the point)
"What are you talking about? The poisoning discussed in this paper is people being poisoned by the pesticides themselves, not by food."

Whoops. Please disregard my last comment. Amy is right on this one.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17297755

From that study's abstract:

"Organic crops contain a significantly higher amount of certain antioxidants (vitamin C, polyphenols and flavonoids) and minerals, as well as have higher dry matter content than conventional ones. Moreover, there is a lower level of pesticide residues, nitrate and some heavy metal contaminations in organic crops compared to conventional ones"

And yet you say...ah, forget it.

I surrender the field.

You are a nutter, Amy. And a mean-spirited one, to boot. The scales have fallen from my eyes.

Good luck with that whole "never admit or allow, alienate everyone, even my friends" thing.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080325101134.htm

"Can organic cropping systems be as productive as conventional systems? The answer is an unqualified, “Yes” for alfalfa or wheat and a qualified “Yes most of the time” for corn and soybeans according to research reported by scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and agricultural consulting firm AGSTAT in the March-April 2008 issue of Agronomy Journal."

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080527101003.htm
"A new study by Newcastle University proves that organic farmers who let their cows graze as nature intended are producing better quality milk.

The Nafferton Ecological Farming Group study found that grazing cows on organic farms in the UK produce milk which contains significantly higher beneficial fatty acids, antioxidants and vitamins than their conventional ‘high input’ counterparts."

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/17/health/nutrition/17nutr.html

"A new study finds that organically grown tomatoes have higher levels of flavonoids, which may protect against cardiovascular disease.

Writing in The Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, researchers said the level of one flavonoid in the organic tomatoes was almost twice as high as that in conventionally grown tomatoes."
Here is an excellent source of material Dr. Tuteur.

http://www.gca.ca/indexcms/pdf/Pesticides%20and%20Human%20Health.pdf

You'll notice that even though this publication was distributed to physicians by the Canadian government, the studies cited (see page four) were conducted by American and Canadian scientists and published in well known scientific publications (including JAMA) as well as government reports.

http://www.gca.ca/indexcms/pdf/Pesticides%20and%20Human%20Health.pdf
I find electronic fora, even Open Salon, are either lovefests or flamewars, neither amounting to much worth the effort. I'm outta here.
One point to consider: Not only is organic farming good for the person consuming the product, it is not polluting the soil, and water in the watersheds that the fields feed into. It's not all about the humans. Groundwater must be protected from runoff of excess chemicals. Plus, the number one polluter are lawn treatments.. .a whole other issue.

Good farming practices do not go out the window with organic farming. Organic does not mean that untreated waste is used to fertilize. Organic does not mean that e.coli is more likely to be present. The only e.coli outbreaks I have heard of have been in mainstream, not organic, food processors. These organisms grow in the processing facilities, not the actual ground the plants grow in. Processing facilities separate organic from non organic but their sanitation methods are the same. So in that way we're both right.

I know you are making a point that any food processor can slap the word "natural" on their product and this has no legal requirement at all. I can put herbicide/pesticide/sulfite laden food on the counter and put a label on it that says: natural and no one can hold them accountable. The word "organic" is different as in the processor has to prove that it is, indeed, raised by organic methods.

Organic growing methods are desparately needed on this planet and the only way to encourage these methods is to purchase organic products. The more organic products are purchased, the more acres will be used for organic or low-till or no-till methods.

Hey, I know my agricultural stuff. Just ask me.

Safety of our water and soil depend on the furthering of organically grown products and study of biological controls instead of sprays.
Your absolutist point is refuted, definitively, with this one study:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17590007?ordinalpos=122&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum

"Ten-year comparison of the influence of organic and conventional crop management practices on the content of flavonoids in tomatoes."

Department of Food Science and Technology and Department of Plant Sciences, One Shields Avenue, University of California-Davis, Davis, California 95616, USA. aemitchell@ucdavis.edu

Understanding how environment, crop management, and other factors, particularly soil fertility, influence the composition and quality of food crops is necessary for the production of high-quality nutritious foods. The flavonoid aglycones quercetin and kaempferol were measured in dried tomato samples (Lycopersicon esculentum L. cv. Halley 3155) that had been archived over the period from 1994 to 2004 from the Long-Term Research on Agricultural Systems project (LTRAS) at the University of California-Davis, which began in 1993. Conventional and organic processing tomato production systems are part of the set of systems compared at LTRAS. Comparisons of analyses of archived samples from conventional and organic production systems demonstrated statistically higher levels (P
(continued, broken by OS due to disallowed char)
"0.05) of quercetin and kaempferol aglycones in organic tomatoes. Ten-year mean levels of quercetin and kaempferol in organic tomatoes [115.5 and 63.3 mg g(-1) of dry matter (DM)] were 79 and 97% higher than those in conventional tomatoes (64.6 and 32.06 mg g(-1) of DM), respectively. The levels of flavonoids increased over time in samples from organic treatments, whereas the levels of flavonoids did not vary significantly in conventional treatments. This increase corresponds not only with increasing amounts of soil organic matter accumulating in organic plots but also with reduced manure application rates once soils in the organic systems had reached equilibrium levels of organic matter. Well-quantified changes in tomato nutrients over years in organic farming systems have not been reported previously."
These are a few facts that I do know. Most physicians will not admit that the sun rises in the east if it is not first sanctioned by the AMA. This is why holistic healing and natural health is almost universally denied by American MD's. I for one have greater peace of mind eating food that has not been sprayed with poison and letting my children drink milk from cows that have not been force fed growth hormones and antibiotics. When I was a kid my doctor used to give me a physical while puffing on a Lucky Strike. I think he eventually came around in his thinking.
Ablonde:

"http://www.gca.ca/indexcms/pdf/Pesticides%20and%20Human%20Health.pdf"

That is an out of date newsletter for a group of local physicians in Ontario. It is primarily about direct exposure to the pesticides themselves, not about pesticides on food. It contains no references that demonstrate harm from consuming foods from plants that have been treated with pesticides.

I know you really, really, really want to believe the cultural myths about "natural" agriculture being superior to conventional agriculture, but as I keep telling you, they are just myths.
Medbh,

Neither Science Daily nor The New York Times is a scientific publication. You must cite scientific information from scientific papers.
Aaron Rury:

"There was a study done in Russia in the 1940's concerning the domestication of foxes."

Perhaps you unaware, but Russian genetics was corrupted by the State, which insisted that scientists produce papers claiming that short term mandates could produce long term genetic changes. None of those papers were true.
Brenda:

"Just ask me."

Okay. Can you provide any scientific evidence for your claims?
Greg Correll:

"The flavonoid aglycones quercetin and kaempferol were measured in dried tomato samples (Lycopersicon esculentum L. cv. Halley 3155) that had been archived over the period from 1994 to 2004 from the Long-Term Research on Agricultural Systems project (LTRAS) at the University of California-Davis, which began in 1993. Conventional and organic processing tomato production systems are part of the set of systems compared at LTRAS. Comparisons of analyses of archived samples from conventional and organic production systems demonstrated statistically higher levels (P"

So what. They could be poisons for all you know. You need to demonstrate some benefit to real people.
coogansbluf:

"This is why holistic healing and natural health is almost universally denied by American MD's."

No, it's treated with contempt because it doesn't work and it wastes the money of gullible people.
even more dangerous is the trend to herbal medicine - so called "natural" medicine
Your reply was exactly what I expected it would be.
Aaron Rury,

You need to read what you cite, because it does not say what you think it says.

First of all, it is hardly an unbiased source

Second, they reviewed 100 studies and none showed any health effects.

The one study in humans:

"In humans: In a prospective cohort study among 2800 children in the Netherlands (KOALA), investigating the relation of life style factors and allergic complaints, a 33% reduction of eczema was found connected to the use of organic dairy products at the age of 2 years. The mothers in this study, who used organic dairy, had a higher amount of CLAs in the breast milk."

They did not show that organic food had anything to do with anything. A 33% reduction in eczema is essentially nothing. Moreover, parents who choose organic products differ in important ways from those who don't (income, education, etc). Those confounding factors could have more to do with the observation than organic food.

I keep telling you, but you just won't listen. There is no scientific evidence that organic food is beneficial. There are only claims from the multi billion dollar organic food industry that have been accepted by a gullible public.
Obviously you have hit a nerve. You should read one of Michael Pollan's books. It might help educate you.
The media, large corporations and the government have all had a hand in marketing so called healthy items that have proven to be otherwise.
You should rethink your position on this issue. If we didn't have farmers we wouldn't have food.
No farms no food.
Now we have further documentation that organic food is a scam. Dr. Dach, noted creationist and peddler of bogus "health" products, is all in favor. That's fitting. Organic food is to nutrition what creationism is to evolution: just wishful thinking.
why do you people waste your time? she probably believes that since Ronald Reagan said it that "Trees cause pollution".
"Now we have further documentation that organic food is a scam. Dr. Dach, noted creationist and peddler of bogus "health" products, is all in favor. That's fitting. Organic food is to nutrition what creationism is to evolution: just wishful thinking."

Fallacy: Guilt By Association

Also Known as: Bad Company Fallacy, Company that You Keep Fallacy

Guilt by Association is a fallacy in which a person rejects a claim simply because it is pointed out that people she dislikes accept the claim. This sort of "reasoning" has the following form:

1. It is pointed out that people person A does not like accept claim P.
2. Therefore P is false

http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/guilt-by-association.html
Dr. Amy : Yes I can. But I would have to go to the library and actually LOOK THEM UP AND COPY Them to make sure I had the facts right. Some facts are common knowledge in the field of agriculture. You only stated the obvious. That organic is not safer than non organic. Everyone knows that. There are a host of other benefits from organic foods.

You treat people like they are stupid. That is just not right. You are condescending and yes, I absolutely could go toe to toe with you on agricultural issues. But I know how that would go...
Amy, you really should do a bit of cursory research before you post. Lines like this, "All farming involves manipulating the environment. There is no particular reason to think that dumping manure on food is an environmental improvement over pesticides" demonstrate a striking ignorance of food production. Manure doesn't replace pesticides. It's fertilizer. There is substantial evidence that our industrial petroleum-based agricultural system is dramatically decreasing soil fertility. You also criticized the use of antibiotics in factory-farmed meat due to the real public health risks, but you don't seem to understand that the factory farming you defend makes those antibiotics necessary. You don't even provide any data on your claims about the risk of contamination in farms that use manure for fertilizer.

It's a shame that this post was so bad 'cause you touched on some good points like the way we evaluate risk and the fact that large industrial organic food monoculture is a scam. Do a little reading next time. This is a very hot issue. There's been a lot written about it. If you're going to post like an expert, at least make the effort to acquire a passing familiarity.
"By their very nature, most pesticides create some risk of harm - Pesticides can cause harm to humans, animals, or the environment because they are designed to kill or otherwise adversely affect living organisms"

http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/about/index.htm
Estrogen hormones have been implicated in the reduction in sperm counts among Western men (Sharpe and Skakkebaek, 1993) and reproductive disorders in a variety of wildlife (Colburn et al., 1993).

-EPA (http://www.epa.gov/agriculture/ag101/impactantibiotics.html)
Nonsense. I know someone who's 7 year old started growing breast until they switched her to organic milk. Pumping kids full of growth hormones is not my idea of responsible business practice. They have effectively turned the American population into lab rats.

Yes, a lot of new age medicine and food is largely just marketing placebos. But we are tampering with the genetic lines of cows, grain, and dairy without knowing the long term results on humans. They are able to create chimeras now. Science is moving faster than the public or congress' ability to monitor it. They overmedicate us with antibiotics giving us superbugs, overspray fields with stronger and stronger pesiticides creating uh superbugs. The point is, conglomerates are interested in high yields and big cows, not human health.
I guess the estrogen like effect of soft plastic being absorbed into guys drinking from Evian bottles and the like is also inconsequential? Face it, they market before they understand the full effects of things. Why is asthma and lactose intolerance so rampant among kids? Why are so many women getting cancer at 40 instead of 60? Something we are introducing is increasing cancer at younger ages, and they have not entirely proven the safeness of cell phones microcwave food, and any number of things that seem harmless.

http://www.canceriq.org/causes.html
Nowhere on the CDC website do they state that organic food presents a higher risk for e. coli or salmonella. In fact, if you look at the companies listed on their outbreak pages, the non-organic companies far outweigh organic. I'm more inclined to believe these hard facts than the supposition and proclamations you are believing presented by the "agro-chemical" industry.
No one has presented any scientific evidence to corroborate their claims. Copying citations from the bibliographies of pro-organic literature, and not bothering to read the paper is not scientific evidence.

I've challenged people to look beyond the marketing techniques of the professionals who promote the multi billion dollar organic industry and you've simply repeated the propaganda.
"No one has presented any scientific evidence to corroborate their claims."

I love it! Amy claims victory again!

Unfortunately your statement is false. Others have provided evidence, in response you have merely insisted that none of their evidence is valid.

In comparison, you have provided zero evidence, valid or invalid.

Just a bunch of random anecdotes and extreme opinions. As you always do.

fail
The Dr. Amy Guide to Winning an Argument:

1. Start with extreme contrarian and/or judgmental opinion

2. Support with unrelated anecdotes, often of reprehensible behavior

3. Challenge others to prove opinion wrong

4. Deny validity of all arguments and evidence provided by those who disagree

5. Proclaim victory
My work here is done.

Vaya con dios amigos!
The organic industry is a fraction of the market and influence. How in their right mind thinks they can add 20 unpronouncable ingredients to products and improve upon actual freaking orange juice or apple juice? Look at the back of any food product and ask yourself how coloring, preservitives on products sprayed with pesticides after being genetically altered for higher yields is MORE healthy than something you got off of a tree 100 years ago?

Yes, somethings like pasturization helped, but in general the things they add to food products were developed in a lab with health the last thing on their minds, maketability and size the first.

Real oranges, the ones from Florida fields are odd shaped, discolored, and a hell of a lot better than perfectly round orange things out of The Jetsons. Milk tasted better 35 years ago when an actual milkman put it in a glass jar in a milkbox than the produce of hormone, steriod filled cows giving us milk that creates early puberty in children and premature aging in adults.

I can barely use laundry detergent because it can give me rashes in the winter when I wear long sleeves. Even my childhood doctor told me they are getting stronger and steonger all the time so that if you put powdered detergent in your hands and added water it would burn.

We are being assaulted by toxins and chemicals from every angle. And the medical community seems to be a lot better at prolonging disease with expensiver treatments than actually curing anything. There are mice they can't give cancer to. Mice they've given thousands of times the dose that killed others, and you think they would have the equivalent in humans. 90 year olds smoking a pack a day.

Medicine has become like HBO. A monthly service. It's hard to imagine a cure for cancer or AIDs being more profitable than "treatment."
Hi there Dr. Amy,
You stated the following to an organic farmer who responded to this post:
"... you have an economic interest in perpetuating the scam" (of organic produce)

It is only fair that you apply the same standard to yourself. So will you please? As a doctor, do you have an economic interest in perpetuating sickness in the general population by condoning dangerous products?
OOPS, SORRY - the above comment by "Noahvose" should be contributed to me instead. My hubby and I share the computer and I was logged in as him instead! Thanks.
Amy, I like your other articles which is why I am dismayed by this one. You've made the claims that pesticides are safe, and yet you have no evidence for that when we all know that many pesticides have been pulled from use because they are discovered to be highly toxic. The reasons you have for disliking organic foods haven't been established.

Why Amy do you expect to be taken seriously when you can't cite any evidence to support your belief that strictly organic foods are more likely to cause food borne illnesses than non-organic foods? Most often food borne illness is improper handling and preparation methods, such as failing to wash produce or cooking meats at a lower temperature than is safe. Until you can establish your claims in science you haven't convinced anyone, and based on your zeal, in fact you make yourself look foolish.
As usual, you're doing your best Forrest Gump imitation... you might have had a point originally but you ran with it far past the end zone and out of the stadium.

Point: There are studies which have found no substantial differences in nutritional value between organic and conventional produce. There aren't any studies which demonstrate that vast numbers of human beings are being sickened by exposure to pesticides on produce.

Out the stadium: There are no important differences between any organic and non-organic food. All the studies quoted here have something wrong with them for some reason I can't really explain meaningfully.

And just keep on running until we lose sight of you: Selective breeding? What's that, never heard of it. Only genetic manipulation can change genetics over the short term.

About a billion dog show enthusiasts will be really surprised to learn that! :D Not to mention those guys who hybridized canola.
"I love it! Amy claims victory again! "

She should, she is right.

If everybody would quit with the hype we could feed the world. Wouldn't you like to see all those starving children on late night TV being fed?

If we went to totally natural farming we would have mass starvation. Just look at crop yields over the last 200 years.

If people quit with the media crap we would have irradiated food in this country and spoilage and food borne illness would be almost zero and the extras, there would be due to the lack of spoilage, could feed all the children.

Dr. Amy, when this liberal bunch starts to starve to death on their organic farms, come by my place. My higher yields will give me enough food for the both of us.
Food born illnesses? You mean the bacteria we've spent the past half million years evolving immunities to through survival of the fittest? How much time have we had to develop an immune system against sodiumhydrophosphatechlodin? This country is something like number 45 in life expectancy, and I would guess we use more chemicals, and gtenetically altered food than anyone. In fact they don't even want our beef in some countries because they don't trust the effects. They observe things for a few years then put them on the market because food has less oversight than drugs, and we know that genetic cellular damage can be carried over generations. They don't know what they are doing. Playing game with DNA, so we can put it in a microwave, radiate it and consume it. By the time they realize the effects on us, it could be too late, having screwed up our DNA in the process.
More recycling of organic industry propaganda, plus some very bizarre "theories" like we don't have to worry about foodborne illness because we've developed immunity. Tell that to the people who have died of E. coli and salmonella, not to mention those who get horrible diseases like cholera and shigella from drinking water contaminated by waste.

I'm not sure why this is so hard to understand. It's as if you kept repeating: "But four out of five dentists recommend Crest" in response to someone pointing out that other toothpastes get the job done. Incessantly repeating ad copy does not substantiate your case, it strengthens mine.
Respects to Noahvose @ 12:35.

On Memorial Day I go to the garbage Dump.
It makes eaters feel better to eat a used mattress.
On Veterans Day I go to DC's municipal Sludge Crap sites.
I'll spread human fecal matter on Vanilla Bean Ice Scream.
Oops. Gracious. Happy? Harpy. O, Insanity. O, Propaganda!
O, I'd rather go to a Family Practice Physician and Pull Teeth.
Amy, pointing out that someone else is wrong yet again doesn't make you more right. It doesn't change a thing and it doesn't offer the least bit of additional proof that you are right either. It is possible that someone else might be wrong and you could be too.

There are a near infinite number of things to take into consideration when making choices about and between foods.

Having lived around farming regions in California, and having worked in personal injury law in a farming region, there were plenty of cases where regular contact with pesticides was found to be the cause of injury to farm workers and people who lived adjacent to farms where such pesticides were used. I don't care what proof you require to feel smug about your opinions. It is my opinion that I don't have to assume the risk of pesticides, artificial preservatives and growth hormones. I believe that the human body is a fairly well designed vehicle for the human spirit and that I don't need agribusiness or big pharma involved in messing about with what I eat, nor do I want the chemical affects on the land around my home affected by pesticides.

If I decide that I want to get in good enough shape to run a marathon, there is a certain risk at my age in making that choice. Trusting that folks are careful with poisons around food, well that is not a risk I am prepared to take. You can't convince me that I should.

As a former restaurant manager, when I was in college, I was made aware of all the health department regulations required for food preparation. I find these rules are fairly standard from coast to coast. If folks were required to keep these rules in their homes regarding refrigeration temperatures, freezer temps, clean food storage, and the cleaning and maintenance of food preparation equipment and surfaces, food would be safer whether it was organic or not.

The fact is, there are a lot of people with bad habits and lousy follow up in making sure that things are done in a clean, healthy and safe way.

When I grow a garden I know exactly what I am eating, how it is prepared, what kind of cultivation was used and when it was picked, washed and brought to the table. There are wild animals around here, so I use a produce wash to make sure I have properly and safely taken care of any risks.

Pesticides run off into the water shed and over use of fertilizers also run off. The cumulative effect of such run off is a difficult problem particularly in areas that grow alot of the food for the US. Throw in drought conditions where such runoff has occured and the land doesn't get properly flushed of constituents from the products that are used build up in the soil and await the return of more rain to then flood the aquifers. There is a great deal to take into consideration when arguing about whether or not organic food is worth it. It isn't just about what we eat. It is about choices we make for the stewardship of the planet now and in the future.

PS-You keep asking for scientific proof, I note that you have not offered any in your main post. If you did, I would see cites and quotation marks indicating as much. We are not doctors, we are fairly ordinary people with a bit of education trying to make the best choices for ourselves that we can.

That wild pigs can come out of nearby hills, stomp around in a field and poop in the organic spinach, well it isn't hard to imagine. If someone in the management food chain didn't recognize the hazard, it is not difficult to imagine that happening anywhere at all, is it. This is what happened in Central California a couple of years ago. It made a lot of people sick and quite a few died. It only takes one careless, unobservant or lazy person in the chain of folks handling fresh produce to cause such an outbreak. That is 'natural' human behavior and we have to take it into account when making choices.
Organic Fruits and Vegetables: Potential Health Benefits and Risks; Nutrition Noteworthy, Volume 7, Issue 1 2005 Article 2 (http://repositories.cdlib.org/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1049&context=uclabiolchem/nutritionnoteworthy)

Conclusion:

...Taking into account the issues of nutrient content, pesticides, and microbiological safety, the current evidence seems to suggest that organic produce can potentially be more beneficial, but certainly not more harmful, than conventional produce for the health of the consumer. However, very few actual benefits have been demonstrated, and at present, the best recommended diet remains as one that is balanced and rich in fruits and vegetables, regardless of organic or conventional origin.
Association of farm management practices with risk of Escherichia coli contamination in pre-harvest produce grown in Minnesota and Wisconsin, International Journal of Food Microbiology, Volume 120, Issue 3, 15 December 2007, Pages 296-302. (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6T7K-4PTW4G8-1&_user=10&_rdoc=1&_fmt=&_orig=search&_sort=d&view=c&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=736dd04effb5ed2b9d1d0561331dcc6e)

Abstract:

Microbiological analyses of fruits and vegetables produced by farms in Minnesota and Wisconsin were conducted to determine the prevalence of Escherichia coli in pre-harvest fruits and vegetables. During the 2003 and 2004 harvest seasons, 14 organic (certified by accredited organic agencies), 30 semi-organic (used organic practices but not certified) and 19 conventional farms were sampled to analyze 2029 pre-harvest produce samples (473 organic, 911 semi-organic, 645 conventional). Before each harvest season, a farmer survey was conducted to collect relevant information on farm management practices that might affect the risk of E. coli contamination in fresh produce. The use of animal wastes for fertilization of produce plants increased the risk of E. coli contamination in organic (OR = 13.2, P-value
Who are organic food consumers? A compilation and review of why
people purchase organic food; Journal of Consumer Behaviour
J. Consumer Behav. 6: 1–17 (2007); (http://www.ccs.dcu.ie/consumingidentity/publications/documents/Hughner%20et%20al%202007.pdf)

...Research has also focused on identifying a more comprehensive, psychographic profile of the regular consumer of organic foods (RCOF). For RCOFs, ‘‘organic food consumption is part of a way of life. It results from an ideology, connected to a particular value system, that affects personality measures, attitudes, and consumption behavior’’. The values of altruism (relationship with others), ecology (harmony with the universe and sustainable future), universalism (protection of the welfare of all people and nature), benevolence (enhancing the welfare of people with whom one is in frequent personal contact), spirituality (inner harmony
and unity with nature), and self direction (independent thought and action) have all been connected to regular consumers of organic foods. Consequently, organic food consumption is often related to an alternative lifestyle that includes active environmentalism, vegetarianism, and/or alternative medicine. Research has found that RCOFs are high internal locus of control individuals who believe in self-responsibility for health and are more likely to undertake preventative health action. In general, RCOFs strongly associate health with diet, believe that eating healthily is more effective than medication in managing illness, and strive to stay abreast of the latest advancements in health and nutrition research Zanoli and Naspetti found health to be the most important motive in the purchase of organic foods among both regular and occasional
consumers of organic food. For regular purchasers, health attributes were found to be associated with the transcendental values of altruism and ecology ...

The overwhelming majority of studies find ‘health’ to be the primary reason consumers buy organic foods. Consumers buy organic because of their desire to avoid the chemicals used in conventional food production. The use of pesticides is perceived to be associated with long-term and unknown effects on health. Perceived healthiness of organic food is a parameter of quality for
many consumers. Some studies have found that consumers believe organic food to be more nutritious. Noteworthy, to date there has not been conclusive evidence that organic food is more nutritious.
Magnusson et al. find that health concern is a better predictor of the purchase of organic food than concern for the environment,
and conclude that egoistic motives are better predictors of the purchase of organic foods than are altruistic motives...
Susanne Freeborn.
You would love Nora.
Nora's from DC. Google?
Nora's Austrian. Nora's Restaurant.
I use to sell her a lettuce mix with Nasturtiums.
She even gives you more money than you ask for.
Serious.
One day she looked at the latose sativa with flowers...
Wow. She gave me extra dough. Check her out? I love Nora.
She is near Dupont Circle in DC. She gives a free feast to farmers.
Check out FRESHFARM market web-site. Ann and Bernie and gals...
Ask to be placed on their excellent Farmer Market web-site? Our farm may get help with a web?

They offered that free service.
Some grub we grow is sold in DC.
There's wonderful folk around.
Stay away from a cantankerous!
You can make a bad-moons-fire?
I mean:`Poison dispositions. Oy!
Love is also infectious. Yes`sum!
Amy, the abstract you linked for the University of Minnesota/Wisconsin study is not particularly useful in proving your case. The first problem is that they measured pre-harvest vegetables. USDA laws regulating the use of organic fertilizers require that they not be applied between 90 and 120 days before harvest depending on the crop.

http://www.nal.usda.gov/afsic/pubs/faq/BuyOrganicFoodsC.shtml#BuyC5

In addition, you failed to quote the rest of the abstract which showed nearly identical values for the organic and semi-organic produce. Semi-organic produce is not labeled and yet it combines a large portion of the produce market. This is essentially nullifying the notion that non-organic is a safer choice from a bacterial level. I would also like it if you could show who funded the study you quoted, because it could have ties to Monstanto or Cargill, which have funded U of M studies in the past.

The USDA page also links to a study that contradicts you. It shows organic lettuce has no more harmful bacteria than non-organic lettuce. And please note, this study is more useful as it was conducted using lettuce at harvest.

"Conclusions: No difference in bacteriological quality could be detected in lettuce at harvest after application of various types of manure-based fertilizers grown under Norwegian conditions."

http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/118807078/abstract?CRETRY=1&SRETRY=0

You simply don't have the data to say that organic produce is more likely to cause foodborne illness, because no such body of data exists.
Amy found some research! Let's just see:

Citation 1: Does not support your arguments. Inconclusive.

Citation 2: Does not support your arguments. No direct linkage to health effects.

Citation 3: Does not support your arguments. No direct linkage between consumer motives and "scam."

Good to see you are trying, but the problem is that you are doing so after the fact. Good researchers start with a hypothesis (e.g. "is organic produce a scam?") and then design an experiment to test the hypothesis.

You started with conclusions and then sought research to support your position.

fail
Continuingd from my previous post.

It is interesting that the values for the semi-organic and fully organics are so close in the preharvest study you linked. Again essentially rendering your point moot. If you were right, I would expect a significantly larger increase in the organic group's bacterial levels and yet that is not happening. One reason could be that organic farmers are subjected to higher standards by law. The USDA I linked above also says.

"Organic regulations are in place that address this issue: Use of manure, especially raw (not composted) manure, on organic fields is restricted by law. These regulations are more restrictive than those that apply to conventional farms. Relevant sections of the regulatory text include:

Title 7: Agriculture, Part 205– National Organic Program -
§205.203 Soil fertility and crop nutrient management practice standard.
(a) The producer must select and implement tillage and cultivation practices that maintain or improve the physical, chemical, and biological condition of soil and minimize soil erosion.
(b) The producer must manage crop nutrients and soil fertility through rotations, cover crops, and the application of plant and animal materials.
(c) The producer must manage plant and animal materials to maintain or improve soil organic matter content in a manner that does not contribute to contamination of crops, soil, or water by plant nutrients, pathogenic organisms, heavy metals, or residues of prohibited substances. Animal and plant materials include:
(1) Raw animal manure, which must be composted unless it is:
(i) Applied to land used for a crop not intended for human consumption;
(ii) Incorporated into the soil not less than 120 days prior to the harvest of a product whose edible portion has direct contact with the soil surface or soil particles; or
(iii) Incorporated into the soil not less than 90 days prior to the harvest of a product whose edible portion does not have direct contact with the soil surface or soil particles;
(2) Composted plant and animal materials produced though a process that:
(i) Established an initial C:N ratio of between 25:1 and 40:1; and
(ii) Maintained a temperature of between 131 °F and 170 °F for 3 days using an in-vessel or static aerated pile system; or
(iii) Maintained a temperature of between 131 °F and 170 °F for 15 days using a windrow composting system, during which period, the materials must be turned a minimum of five times.
§205.239 Livestock living conditions.
(c) The producer of an organic livestock operation must manage manure in a manner that does not contribute to contamination of crops, soil, or water by plant nutrients, heavy metals, or pathogenic organisms and optimizes recycling of nutrients. Full text: Electronic Code of Federal Regulations (e-CFR): http://ecfr.gpoaccess.gov/cgi/t/text/text-idx?type=simple;c=ecfr;cc=ecfr;
sid=4163ddc3518c1ffdc539675aed8efe33;region=DIV1;
q1=national%20organic%20program;rgn=div5;view=text;idno=7;
node=7%3A3.1.1.9.31
@Eric

As you clearly understand, and Amy may not, STATISTICAL significance DOES NOT equate to real world significance.

Statistical significance just means that you can demonstrate with a high degree of confidence that two things are not equal. It does not mean that the difference is big enough that anyone would care, nor does it mean that the difference has an material impact on anything else.
Eric Benson,

Quoting the law is not particularly relevant, since the law is not always followed. After all, I could quote the law for peanut plants to claim that they could not cause an outbreak of salmonella, but obviously they did.

My main point, though, it that manure is known to contain bacteria that can and do cause outbreaks of life threatening food borne illness and death. One of the largest recent outbreaks, spinach that killed several people, was traced to an organic farm

In contrast, the "risks" of pesticide residues are entirely theoretical. To my knowledge, no one has been sickened or died because of pesticide residues. As one of the articles I quoted says regarding consumers who purchase organic produce believe: "The use of pesticides is perceived to be associated with long-term and unknown effects on health."

This supports one of my contentions in the original post: Americans panic over theoretical risks (pesticide residues) that have never actually happened, and ignore real risks (salmonella and E.coli) that have actually sickened thousands and killed some.

Keep in mind, that the three papers I quoted are merely representative of the many papers I read just this morning. There are none that are able to substantiate any claims for health benefits for organic food. As far as health risks, the very best that you can say (subject to further research) is that organic produce grown in compliance with food safety rules is probably not more likely to transmit salmonella and E.coli, but certainly not less likely; has lower levels of pesticide residues but there is no evidence that those lower levels provide any advantage over conventional produce; and (I did not post a citation, but I can if you would like) has similar levels of chemical contaminants like DDT because those are in the soil itself.

Of course, when it comes to organic dairy products, the risk of foodborne illness is substantially higher than conventional dairy products. Raw milk is routinely contaminated with multiple disease causing pathogens. Only technological processes like pasteurization can remove those pathogens. Anyone who drinks raw milk because it is "healthy" is living in a dream world.

If you want to pay more for organic products, go right ahead. Personally, I don't purchase it, because the real life risk of foodborne illness may be higher than conventional produce.

There is no evidence, none, zip, zero, nada, that organic produce does anything beyond enrich the producers. There are no health benefits whatsoever.
Uh, Dr Amy, organic milk is pasteurized. In fact the organic, grass fed milk I drink is ultra pasteurized.
Amy said:

"My main point, though, it that manure is known to contain bacteria that can and do cause outbreaks of life threatening food borne illness and death."

With proper preparation these risks are statistically irrelevant and you know that even when these cases occur they are rarely fatal. In contrast, pesticides are intended to be toxic products as they are designed to kill creatures. A main culprit is the organophosphates, which are known to cause cancer and still widely used.

"Organophosphates are a group of human-made chemicals that poison insects and mammals. Organophosphates are the most widely used insecticides today. They are used in agriculture, the home, gardens, and veterinary practice."

Though cancers in children have been linked, concrete human data is unavailable since exposure cannot be accurately measured.

"In lab rats, studies of different organophosphates showed more adrenal, thyroid, and pancreatic tumors."

http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/clusters/fallon/organophosfaq.htm#cause_leukemia

So if you want to risk ingesting more compounds known to be cancerous to mammals that is your decision. But if given the choice, it would be irresponsible to do this. To say that you're more scared of foodborne illness is to me highly suspect since the evidence, even that which you quoted, does not support your argument against fully organic food any more than it does the rest of the unknown food supply.

Because you don't have any post harvest data, your conclusions look even worse. Meanwhile we know pesticides are tested by industry and often discovered as toxic only after being on the market for decades.
I personally try to eat organic when I can for one simple reason - I can pronounce and recognize every ingredient on the label.
"because the real life risk of foodborne illness may be higher than conventional produce."

And yet, when you go to the CDC website the facts say that of all the actual foodborne illnesses in the last three years nearly all of them were caused by non-organic food. The spinach incident you cited involved non-organic spinach as well, btw. I would say that you are "panicking over theoretical risks," instead of looking at the rate of actual incidents.

The first article you quote is pure theory and defines itself as such.

The fact that there is DDT still in soil is proof that pesticides do have harmful, lingering effects. It has been scientifically proven that pesticides and hormones do have detrimental side effects.

You are presenting half truths and repeating the rhetoric of the "agro-chemical" industry, which uses advertising to make you fear and distrust the organic industry, not for your benefit, but for a profit. I could just as easily say that marketers of non-organic food are not allowed to claim that the food is safer and it isn't, implying that the marketers would like to con me into believing that the "agro-chemical" industry is safer.
Come to think of it you're right! I'm about to write a post on exposing the scam of "breathing clean air". I'm tired of these hippy pyschophants (sic) and their mueslix musings! Where does it say that pesticides are fraught with danger? Where?! Or that stocking beef with antitbiotics is simply making for more resistant strains of bacteria? Well, I for one, can't find ONE article!

Amy, this whole ironic thing your doing is actually kind of fun. Thanks!
I love it, Dr. Amy quote/abstract mining and still fails to support her claim of organic foods are responsible for an increase in foodborne illnesses. You also fail to address the negative implications for GMOs on biodiversity, human health and environmental transgene contamination.
If you want your kids reaching puberty several years early, give them off the shelf milk. If you don't want their bodies put into unnatural cycles they weren't meant for, give them ORGANIC MILK.

http://www.organicconsumers.org/rbgh/oca_rbgh.cfm

http://www.checnet.org/healthehouse/education/articles-detail.asp?Main_ID=127

http://www.copperwiki.org/index.php/Growth_Hormones_in_Food
http://www.shirleys-wellness-cafe.com/bgh.htm
Genetically engineered Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH)
Both the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) and the Consumer's Union, publisher of Consumer Reports magazine, have warned of the potential hazards to human health caused by consuming products derived from rBGH-treated cows.
While rBGH is banned in Europe and Canada, and has been boycotted by 95 percent of US dairy farmers, the FDA, Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Agriculture continue to license the drug (and other new genetically engineered foods) without pre-market safety tests. Thanks to industry pressure, genetically engineered foods are NOT required to carry identifying labels. According to the US Federal Office of Management and Budget the projected increase in milk production caused by rBGH introduction will cost American taxpayers an additional $116 million of dollars for further price supports in 1995 alone. And what about the cows? rBGH use will cause suffering to millions of animals: rBGH is like "crack" for cows. It "revs" their system and forces them to produce a lot more milk - but it also makes them sick. Even the FDA admits that cows injected with rBGH could suffer from increased udder infections (mastitis), severe reproductive problems, digestive disorders, foot and leg ailments, and persistent sores and lacerations.

by Michael Greger

"There have been no long term studies of BGH's effects on humans. The congressional General Accounting Office has warned of the potential human health hazards from the consumption of milk or flesh (about 40% of the beef used to make hamburgers come from "old" dairy cows) derived from BGH-treated cows. The Consumer's Union went on to state that the FDA should not have even approved it. BGH "treatment" causes significantly increased levels of another growth hormone called IGF-1 in the milk, according to a 1990 study sponsored by Monsanto and published in Science. Bovine IGF-1 is identical to the IGF-1 naturally found in humans."
At a time when our government buys huge milk surpluses, corporate giant Monsanto invented a way to get cows to produce more milk. Despite evidence that their invention caused illness in cows (leading to an increased level of antibiotics in their milk) and could cause and accelerate the growth of cancer, Monsanto was able to get their product approved by the FDA BY GETTING TWO KEY RESEARCHERS AND THEIR LAWYER ON THE PROJECT HIRED AT THE FDA. The researchers reviewed their own research, upped the "acceptable" level of antibiotics in milk by 100 times to accommodate their findings and then the lawyer rewrote policies to keep milk from cows treated with the new drug from being labeled, so the American public has been prevented from even knowing what they are drinking. Congress is also involved, accepting donations from the dairy industry and Monsanto. During this time many state laws were passed against disparaging food items, so now in many ways it's actually illegal to COMPLAIN about this (remember Oprah being sued over beef?). In fact, Monsanto actually sued two dairies who advertised they were NOT using the new drug.
Ever wonder why breast cancer is so low in China and India? They dont use dairy products:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0312291671/ref=s9_cxsip_l4_t2?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=left-3&pf_rd_r=1QMTBGWVVE3RZJQE3P5C&pf_rd_t=3201&pf_rd_p=471804731&pf_rd_i=typ01

JANE PLANT:
I had worked a lot in China on links between the environment and human health-- for example, the relationship between selenium deficiency and heart disease-- and the Chinese had given me, at that time, an atlas of cancer mortality in their country.

Suddenly, when I was given a diagnosis of three months to live, I remembered that the atlas showed an incredibly low rate of breast cancer in China, and I tried to think what was behind that difference between the incidence-- China and the West.

I wondered whether it was the low fat diet, but I'd had a low fat diet. I knew of the theory that the soya was protective, but I'd been having a lot of soya. And, suddenly, I remembered that all the Chinese people I knew wouldn't touch dairy products, because they often lack the enzyme needed to digest it. So I thought that that was worth a try.
I think it is becoming progressively clear the only scam going on is from elements of the dairy industry like the Monsato corporation feeding dangerous yield enhansing drugs like rBGH, hiring people to do bullshit studies and get people on the board of the FDA to pretend it's okay to give to cows, then suing anyone who points it out, producing early puberty in kids and increasing breast cencer in women through the various dairy product. Breast cancer in women comparitively rare to Chinese and Indians, who don't consume dairy.

Wake up and stop buying into studies funded by the very people poisoning our food supply with dangerous hormones to increase milk production, taining our beef and dairy products in the process.

What the evidence clearly shows is who is behind it, how they cover it up, and its implications.

What is needed is public awareness and accountability by the press, our government and legal system, recognition by the medical community that if they want us to believe they really want LESS breast cancer and not MORE, they will at least study the effects of the hormones promoted by Monsato and read both sides of the argument before deciding.

In my opinion you are misinforming people, and if dairy products are a major contributer of breast cancer, endangering women by denying the health risks of dairy, that has been tainted by BGH.

First, do no harm. Which means stop telling women dairy is safe until you know the facts.

What do you attribute the lower levels of breast cancer in China and India to, avoiding Paulie Shore movies?
This article is a disgrace.

The fact-free claims and Amy Tuteur's subsequent intellectually dishonesty is astounding. Zero points, and if god exists may this god have mercy on Amy's soul.
A lot of issues with what you have written here.

(1) It very may well be that organic food is no more nutritious than that grown with petroleum-based pesticides, but the converse is also true, belying your "[organic] food that may actually be worth less" kicker.

(2) Risks associated with pesticides are not at all "imagined and undocumented (and possibly non-existent)". There is plenty of evidence of pesticide risks. Many well-known pesticides and herbicides have been taken off the market from well-documented and substantial risk. Examination of pesticides for potential side-effects is ongoing; sometimes risks don't come to light for many years. You can read a bit more about known risks here:
http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/food/risks.htm

(3) It isn't just the pesticides risks to humans that is in play here. One might choose to eat organics in order not to support pesticide-grown crops due to their well-documented and indisputable harm to other organisms, most notably birds, amphibians and fish.

(4) Also, the force of gravity being what it is, most all pesticides eventually make their way into the water, where they can and do enter the food chain in ways that create risks to humans, most notably through the consumption of fish and shellfish. Chlordane and DDT are well-documented examples. You can read more about particular pesticide impacts here:
http://www.fortworthgov.org/dem/info/default.aspx?id=8210

So, while you are right there are other grave risks--from sun exposure and from bacterial-borne infection due to consumption of infected vegetables--the very real risks from pesticides are in no way diminished by the existence of these other risks. Contrariwise, it may be that pesticide-treated vegetables are more risky, because in addition to the risk of pesticide residues on the vegetables themselves, they may also carry the additional risk of bacterial infection due to human handling or irrigation from contaminated sources.
"Hence, consumers routinely obsess about insignificant health risks that have never even been shown to occur (pesticides, hormones)"

This is an outrageous comment, Doctor. Shame on you. I beg to differ and the huge fibroids I had before I stopped eating red meat and other hormone laden food are what has helped me to get control of my uterus.

Here is my testimony, which I sent to all my friends and family members because I know how prevalent uterine fibroids are, particularly for Black women -- Uterine Fibroids are Treatable with Metabolic Enzymes.
You can keep making the claims over and over again, but that won't make them true. The scientific research does not support the claims of the organic food industry, no matter how much you wish to believe them.
When reading this, I have the overall impression that Amy is one of those people who believes science is equivalent to truth and everything that is not confirmed by science simply doesn't exist. Anyone with even marginal common sense can see the fallacy in that way of thinking. But even when science is waved in Amy's face, she resists and denies it. Her reply to the post citing the Netherlands study which that found reduced levels of eczema stunned me. In regard to that one she just threw out a mindless defense (regarding improvement with eczema as meaningless and confounding factors as likely present in the study) with no basis in either fact or logic.

Overall, she begins with a denial of any evidence in favor of organic foods. When confronted with some citations and essentially painted into a corner, the bag of tricks she pulls out of her hat is to denounce the studies and pretend that some studies equals no studies. She has a number of reasons for rationalizing her stance but they aren't convincing. The perplexing thing is that a number of people who are intelligent and educated are pointing that out to her but she can't even fractionally concede.

My opinion of Amy at this point is that she's too intellectually rigid and apparently personally invested in winning arguments instead of collaborating with her peers. As a result, she fails to persuade, let alone inform.
Here's an interesting peer-reviewed study, regardless of its small sample size:

Title: Organic diets significantly lower children's dietary exposure to organophosphorus pesticides.

Environmental health perspectives, 2006 Feb, 114(2):260-3
Title: Pesticide residues in conventional, integrated pest management (IPM)-grown and organic foods: insights from three US data sets.

Food additives and contaminants, 2002 May, 19(5):427-46
Sadly the best example of a pesticide with proven deadly effects upon the human population is none other than Zklon B. Originally developed as a pesticide by a Jewish scientist the product became the coup de grace at the hands of the NAZI exterminators in their quest to rid the world of Jews, gays, and whomever else was deemed unworthy of life.

Now, Ms. Tuteur, the mark of a learned man or woman is the grace and dignity with which they address their opponents. I humbly assert that this is an area your Harvard professors would grade you poorly on. Look inward and reflect upon the mark you are leaving here in your mortal world. At this moment your overall affect is not so good. That's unfortunate, but it's not to late to turn it around. In your heart, I am sure you know this.

Take a deep breath, reflect and stroll through a farmer's market this spring. Sample a strawberry from the hand of the farmer that grew it. Grab a clump of spinach with the dirt of our sweet mother still clinging to it's roots like the streaks of blood on a newborn babe. Wash, eat, delight.

It's not too late to change.
Amy: "Similarly, consumers of organic food tolerate the real and substantial risk of illness from pathogens in manure, but fear the effects of pesticides, which have never been shown to cause illness."

A non-comprehensive selection of studies and reviews from relevant peer-reviewed journal articles:

Association between Parkinson's Disease and Exposure to Pesticides in Southwestern France
Neuroepidemiology. Vol 22(5), Sep-Oct 2003, pp. 305-310

Pesticides and Risk of Parkinson Disease: A Population-Based Case-Control Study.
Archives of Neurology. Vol 62(1), Jan 2005, pp. 91-95

Use of a VA pharmacy database to screen for areas at high risk for disease: Parkinson's disease and exposure to pesticides.
Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry and Neurology. Vol 17(1), Mar 2004, pp. 36-38

Synergistic microglial reactive oxygen species generation induced by pesticides lindane and dieldrin (note: parkinson's disease)
Neuroreport: For Rapid Communication of Neuroscience Research. Vol 19(13), Aug 2008, pp. 1317-1320

Parental occupational exposure to pesticides and the risk of childhood leukemia in Costa Rica.
Scandinavian journal of work, environment & health, 2007 Aug, 33(4):293-303

Diabetes in relation to serum levels of polychlorinated biphenyls and chlorinated pesticides in adult Native Americans.
Environmental health perspectives, 2007 Oct, 115(10):1442-7

Occupational exposure to pesticides and risk of hematopoietic cancers: meta-analysis of case-control studies.
Cancer causes & control : CCC, 2007 Dec, 18(10):1209-26.

Pesticides may be altering constitutive nitric oxide release, thereby compromising health.
Medical science monitor : international medical journal of experimental and clinical research, 2006 Oct, 12(10):RA235-40

Aneuploidy-inducing capacity of two widely used pesticides.
Carcinogenesis, 2006 Dec, 27(12):2511-8.

Pesticides associated with wheeze among commercial pesticide applicators in the Agricultural Health Study.
American journal of epidemiology, 2006 Jun 15, 163(12):1129-37

Pesticides and respiratory symptoms among farmers.
Revista de saude publica, 2005 Dec, 39(6):973-81.

Health effects of common home, lawn, and garden pesticides.
Pediatric clinics of North America, 2007 Feb, 54(1):63-80, viii

Acute occupational pesticide-related illness in the US, 1998-1999: surveillance findings from the SENSOR-pesticides program.
American journal of industrial medicine, 2004 Jan, 45(1):14-23

Impaired reproductive development in sons of women occupationally exposed to pesticides during pregnancy.
Environmental health perspectives, 2008 Apr, 116(4):566-72

The impact of pesticides on male fertility
Current opinion in obstetrics & gynecology, 2008 Jun, 20(3):229-33
Amy: "Marketers of organic food are not allowed to claim that the food is safer or more nutritious, since it is neither.*

The following study suggests that protein digestability in organically grown wheat is superior to conventionally grown wheat with the additional benefit that organic wheat is free of pesticides:

Physico-chemical characteristics, nutrient composition and consumer acceptability of wheat varieties grown under organic and inorganic farming conditions.
International journal of food sciences and nutrition, 2008 May, 59(3):224-45.
Snailgoop,

All you've done is demonstrate that you can cut and paste "bibliography salad." And that's simply another sign that you've been scammed. That's why marketers and charlatans add bibliography salad to their propaganda. They know it impresses the gullible.

You have no any idea what's in those papers, because you haven't read them. You don't know if they prove your point, whether they are well done or poorly done, or whether they have been superceded by other papers.

There is no more effective demonstration of the gullibility of consumers than when they proudly quote the tactic that scammed them as if it were "evidence."
Amy, you set up a straw man argument--that people buy organic to avoid risk and because of marketing hype suggesting nutritional advantages--and completely avoid addressing more cogent reasons people might avoid pesticide-laden products.

But facts are facts. Pesticides, for the most part, are washed into the water supply. There are substantial, proven risks from eating pesticide-tainted fish and shellfish. There is also vast damage done to ecosystems. These are things you would rather not factor into your equation for why people might choose not to support crops grown with pesticides.

In other words, you are distorting the arguments against pesticides by reframing the argument in a way that allows you to prove something trivial: that there are no nutritional differences between foods produced by different means. Big whoop.

I think you should man up and address the arguments of your critics, instead of simply repeating your straw man defense.
Rich Banks:

"These are things you would rather not factor into your equation for why people might choose not to support crops grown with pesticides."

I never said that there are not other reasons for choosing organic products. My claim is that organic products are not more nutritious and are not safer.

Consumer research shows that the primary motivating factor for buying organic is that people assume that it is more nutritious and safer. Therefore, it is important for them to understand that it is neither. I have said nothing about whether or not organic farming is better for the environment.
Amy wrote:

"people assume that it is more nutritious and safer. Therefore, it is important for them to understand that it is neither."

So far you're neither honest nor accurate. The comments here have already given you an abstract stating organic foods have higher nutritional density. Check.

We also have CDC statements indicating that pesticides do cause tumors in mammals. Check.

You have ZERO valid data of your own. Checkmate.
Eric Benson:

"an abstract stating organic foods have higher nutritional density"

That's NOT scientific evidence. If you haven't personally read the paper you don't know what the paper says, you don't know if the research was done properly, you don't know whether the data justifies the conclusions and you don't know whether the paper has been superceded by more recent research.

Read the paper. Read the other literature in the field. Then you will be in a position to argue about it.
Wrong. I don't have to personally pour over the perhaps hundreds of pages of literature for something that is reviewed by an official source. It was reviewed in a database run by the the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health. It is a review piece encompassing scientific data.

Are you also forgetting that you already linked an abstract yourself and tried to pass it off as supporting your case. Which by the way wasn't even applicable since it the study was done on pre-harvest produce and even at that you had to cherry pick it.

I see you ignored the CDC statement as well.
I've read all the replies and arguments put forth and I have to say the research sides with Amy on this issue.

Paracelsus perhaps said it best when he stated ""All things are poison and nothing is without poison, only the dose permits something not to be poisonous.". This is an important concept when trying to equate short, high-dose acute exposures in farmworkers with the levels of pesticide residues that may, or may not, be found on any produce regardless the source. It is an apples to oranges comparison when you make a leap of an adverse event in a farmworkers case to the risk of eating some fresh spinach purchased in the market. The levels of pesticide residues found in produce are inconsequential from a health perspective. For example there is mercury in every breath and across every square inch of soil but no one blinks an eye at inhaling that next breath or going out and tilling up a garden to grwo some food. Both activities expose you to mercury but the dose is insufficient to elicit an adverse response.

Another example can be found with the Environmental Working Group (funded via organic producers) claim that farmed salmon are not good for you to eat when compared to wild salmon due to levels of PCB"s and other persistent halogenated compounds. When you look at the data you see that wild salmon due have lower levels but the levels are insignificant from a human health perspective and you also see that while farmed salmon may have three times the levels found in wild salmon the levels are still at a level that is insignificant to human health. The dose makes the poison and in this case the fear mongering by the EWG is unfounded but many people buy into the myth perpetrated by this group!

Then you have the issue of concentration levels of nutrients in produce. A abstract was posted that seemed to indicate that higher levels of some flavanoids were found in organic versus conventional ag methods. While true on the surface the authors point out in the conclusion that the organic plot did not receive any nitrogen inputs for the last six years of the experiment and that low nitrogen levels were driving the differences. The authors also point out that an amendment to the soil with nitrogen, e.g., manure application or green mauring the field, would eliminate these observed differences. How does that apply to real-life agriculture...well not so much application. There is also a study out there comparing the antioxidant leves found in strawberries and loganberries cultivated under two different regimes. The authors of the study found that when frozen immediately in the field the organic product had higher levels but when the fruit was transported for any distance, and over a short period of time, the levels degraded to the point that they were indistinguisable to their conventional counterparts.

That brings us to another issue which is nutrient loss during storage or transport. Spinach can lose up to 50% of its vitamin C within 24 hours of picking. If I go into the store and purchase organic spinach it is likely to contain no more vitamin C than the commercial counterpart and paying a higher price for that produce is not a value oriented endeavor. If I picked some conventionally grown spinach from one of my raised beds that I raised using salt-based fertilizers it would have far more vitamin C than the organic counterpart at the store. One must be very careful about what you are comparing and under what conditions. Paying two to three times the amount for organic produce when nutrient differences border on the 10-25 % range then you are not getting your moneys worth and are fooling yourself into thinking it is a more nutritious and therefore a better value than the conventional produce. You would be better off eating 10-25 % more of the cheaper conventionally-grown product than the more pricey organic analog.


Then of course, as Amy pointed out, you have to address the 'so what' question. Is there a difference in consuming something marginally higher in a few nutrients over the one that has lower levels of that nutrient? The answer is apparently there is no difference. A article addressing the consumption of tomato paste (derived from organic tomatos) determined to be higher in some antioxidants was found to have no effect on the internal levels of those antioxidants in a person after three weeks on daily consumption.

The claims for the superiority of the organic product far exceed the available data and represent marketing strategy rather than any 'real' benefit. Priced on a milligram basis organic produce is more costly for the same nutrient than the conventional counterpart.

I think the best argument for consuming organic produce, or wild salmon for that matter, is that it represents a choice to support that philosophy or in the case of salmon object to the localized effects of net pens which hold the salmon.
sebestes might be Amy with an alternate account. Why do I think that? Because the first thing this person writes is right out of the Dr. Amy failbook.

“I've read all the replies and arguments put forth and I have to say the research sides with Amy on this issue.”

That is strange because neither Amy nor you sebastes have provided ANY relevant evidence or research. WOW Ok then.…

sebestes wrote:

"Priced on a milligram basis organic produce is more costly for the same nutrient than the conventional counterpart."

Evidence? You’re stating that as a fact without any citation, exactly as Amy has done this entire thread.

For the record, I am even inclined to believe that could be true. However, even that wouldn’t make Amy’s argument valid since better nutritional value is only one consideration in paying a higher cost for organic food.
It is clear that Amy knows nothing about agriculture, and she’s probably never harvested a vegetable in her life. Corporate grown vegetables are bred to be large produces since their value is measured by weight. In breeding for large yielding strains and harvesting them early so they can make it to market unspoiled, the product is less dense more underdeveloped and more watery with a lower flavinoid concentration. Anyone who has grown heirloom tomatoes knows they taste like a tomato should taste, full of robust flavor. If you buy one at a supermarket chain chances are you’re getting a very watery red thing that tastes not nearly as powerful as it should.

The real argument is not simply organic versus non organic. It is big agriculture versus niche agriculture. Smaller niche producers tend to farm organically, and the varieties they choose are not bred for the most massive yields. They are bred to be the most flavorful and gourmet varieties. This is the distinction that truly affects the antioxidant density of a vegetable, and you can taste the difference. Smaller producers favor quality over quantity, and therefore they charge more per unit.

Also here is a quote from a time magazine article about organic vegetables being more nutritious.

"ccording to Donald R. Davis, a former research associate with the Biochemical Institute at the University of Texas, Austin. Davis claims the average vegetable found in today's supermarket is anywhere from 5% to 40% lower in minerals (including magnesium, iron, calcium and zinc) than those harvested just 50 years ago."

http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1880145,00.html
quote: Also here is a quote from a time magazine article about organic vegetables being more nutritious.

"ccording to Donald R. Davis, a former research associate with the Biochemical Institute at the University of Texas, Austin. Davis claims the average vegetable found in today's supermarket is anywhere from 5% to 40% lower in minerals (including magnesium, iron, calcium and zinc) than those harvested just 50 years ago."

http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1880145,00.html endquote

and if you go to the literature articles where this is derived from you will see that it is the difference in cultivar types that drives these results. The question again is "so what?" to obtain dietary sufficiency how much more produce actually needs to be consumed.

I am a avid gardener and appreciate the flavors of vegetables fresh from the garden as well as the superiority in taste of the pork and chicken I raise on my little farm. Aside from personal preference and enjoyment of a higher quality vegetable from my garden, organic or not, there really is no nutritional superiority than what I could purchase in the market. Then when you add in my time and effort you find I am paying much much more for being able to raise my own food. Personal gratification makes the difference in price OK for me but this is not the choice the general population faces when they go to the grocery store to buy food.
"the difference in cultivar types that drives these result"

Correct, and by no coincidence the smaller organic growers use these varieties almost exclusively. So Amy was wrong there as the evidence presented has shown.

Anyone that knows a lick about agriculture and big business knows that the big corporations go for the pesticide laden high yielding vegetables because it is cheaper for them to produce than using organic methods and heirloom varieties. Corporations exist to increase their profits and boost shareholders values, that's all they do. Smaller growers will spend more per unit to create a better product. And people that want the benefits of fewer pesticides and more nutrition from their vegetables will choose the organic vegetables.
TendingPhoenix:

"Corporations exist to increase their profits and boost shareholders values, that's all they do."

Right. Organic food is a big business and its producers will say and do virtually anything to convince people to buy their products.
Many people can't grow their own vegetables or can't afford more expensive organic vegetables (especially in this economy) even if they'd rather have them. So I don't think anybody is saying don't eat vegetables unless they're organic. Some are better than none, but if you live in downtown of a busy city organic vegetables may be out of reach for you, there is not anywhere to buy them. And sometimes you just can't choose organic if you're eating away from home. So in that is why people should try to educate themselves on what to avoid.

People should especially avoid these highly sprayed non organics:

Peaches
Strawberries
Apples
Spinach
Nectarines
Celery
Pears
Cherries
Potatoes
Bell peppers
Raspberries
Grapes, imported

Safer, fewer pesticides:

Sweet corn
Avocado
Pineapples
Cauliflower
Mangoes
Sweet peas
Asparagus
Onions
Broccoli
Bananas
Kiwi fruit
Papaya

http://www.brighamandwomens.org/healtheweightforwomen/special_topics/intelihealth0404.aspx
"Organic food is a big business"

Not nearly as big and as corporatized as industrial agriculture.
"Organic food is a big business and its producers will say and do virtually anything to convince people to buy their products."

By that logic, you should trust non-organic food even less.
quote "Organic food is a big business"

Not nearly as big and as corporatized as industrial agriculture. endquote

does that somehow make one more trustworthy/reliable than another? Sounds more like a case of 'not as big a crook' than anything else.

I live in an area of high agricultural activity. In fact if you have ever eaten ketcup, tomato paste, or a can of tomatoes it is likely to have come from somewhere close to me. I bring that up only to point out that while the families working the farms all sell to major canneries they represent more of a collection of farmers than a corporation run by non-farming CEO's.

quote
"Organic food is a big business and its producers will say and do virtually anything to convince people to buy their products."

By that logic, you should trust non-organic food even less.
endquote

no, the point is that you should cast just as skeptcal of an eye for the claims of the conventional producers and more for the often exaggerated claims from the organic industry.
"claims from the organic industry"

Which so far, Amy/you haven't been able to successfully challenge. In fact all the valid evidence presented here has been pro-organic.
RenHoek:

"Which so far, Amy/you haven't been able to successfully challenge. In fact all the valid evidence presented here has been pro-organic."

How would you know? You haven't read a single scientific paper, have you? In fact, I'd venture to guess that every supporter of organic food in this thread has never bothered to read scientific evidence. They merely cut and paste propaganda from organic food marketing.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Look you silly cunt. You wrote the article, not me. I cited evidence listed in an official government database for health science. You haven't done anything to prove your case.

You made the original claim therefore the burden of proof is on you. You have not only read no scienctific papers yourself, you aren't qualified to do so. You're an unlicensed, failed vagina doctor who now rants on the internet and tells other people to do her research. On top of that the only thing you sourced didn't back up your claim. EPIC FAIL
RenHoek:

"I cited evidence listed in an official government database for health science."

Right, you didn't read any of the scientific papers. You think that because you have mastered cut and paste that somehow qualifies you to participate in the discussion when you haven't even bothered to read the most basic information on the topic.
How would you know if I've read the full report? The point I am making is that you haven't supported your argument with anything based in science.
"Look you silly cunt [...] You're an unlicensed, failed vagina doctor who now rants on the internet"

Wow. Don't you just seem so intelligent and mature with comments like that? @@

What reason do you have to believe that Dr. Amy is a "failed" doctor (and really...women's health is more than just the vagina, ok? So an OB/GYN is more than a "vagina doctor" got it?)? Because she's no longer licensed? She voluntarily retired from her practice to raise her children...hardly makes her a failure? And, of course, there is no reason to be licensed if not practicing.

And what does any of that have to do with the argument on hand again? Her "style" of argument, her reception to studies/articles/links, her knowledge of the field/research...those are all valid topics in the sense that it can impact her argument and the debate overall. Calling her names, talking about her former career, and calling her a failure? Not so much.
Snailgoop,

All you've done is demonstrate that you can cut and paste "bibliography salad." And that's simply another sign that you've been scammed. That's why marketers and charlatans add bibliography salad to their propaganda. They know it impresses the gullible.

You have no any idea what's in those papers, because you haven't read them. You don't know if they prove your point, whether they are well done or poorly done, or whether they have been superceded by other papers.

There is no more effective demonstration of the gullibility of consumers than when they proudly quote the tactic that scammed them as if it were "evidence."

Amy: You wanted citations, you got them. Now you can't handle them. I'm not going to write a scholarly paper for you on the topic.

Your claim that bibliography salad is part of the scam smokescreens your own inability or unwillingness to read those studies listed and to comment rationally upon them. Your criticisms are well applied to your own methods.
Excellent, and rated. I'm a 46-year old internist with Parkinson's disease. My uncle will not stop calling me and demanding that I eat organic foods. I had to obtain caller ID just to keep him away. I'd rather die of Parkinson's disease than listen to his incessant rants. Organic foods may be good, but I'm not going to spend the extra bucks unless there's good evidence. I'm tempted to send him your post, but I don't want him to have my return email address.
Dr. A:
I both agree with you and disagree with you here:
I will concur that pesticide residues on non-organic produce have a very small effect on overall health. It is certainly not curative to avoid them. Especially when you consider that MOST people allow an exterminator to spray their home and that exterminator will be blanketing your home inside and outside with the EXACT same pesticides you are avoiding residues of by buying your food Organic. It is also a fact that HOMEOWNERS use far more pesticides/herbicides per acre than farmers. (Why I feel safer living in an Ag zone than in a Surburban neighborhood!). When someone asks me how to cut pesticides and herbicides out of their lives, I say: fire the exterminator, fire Chemlawn, and switch to herbal flea and tick for Rover. (Frontline is nothing more than a synthetic pesticide, which IMO gets all over anything Rover comes in contact with for a period of time).

However, it is not even up for debate whether Pesticides & Herbicides harm farmers and farm workers. (They harm exterminators and lawn care professionals too). All these professions have increased cancer rates. This is very well established, the link between pesticide/herbicide application and cancer risk. So as a hobby farmer, I reject the entire system that asserts that it is okay that I should increase my cancer risk by providing food for our community. And I couldn't ask another farmer to do that either.

So I do reject the mentality that says 'buy xy and z orgnaic but not ab and c' while still employing an exterminator on a bi monthly basis. But I still insist on Organic food, from a social justice/full life cycle standpoint.

Other phenomena like the 'Chemical treadmill' are equally well documented (where you need to spray more and more of any chemical as the insects develop resistance to it). Also it is not wrong for the consumer to insist on proof of SAFETY of non-organic food (which is really the relative newcomer, historically) instead of proof of the benefit from avoiding it. Also, when a consumer buys Organic, they don't have to worry about every new development in food technology. Just now, the FDA is debating the use of cheap 'Milk Protein Concentrates' from overseas. Read: China. Since pollution bioaccumulates up the food chain, and China is more polluted than the US, that is just one reason this is not a great idea. Yet they are coming soon to a Yogurt cup near you. If I was a consumer of 'conventional' food, I would have to worry about this new development, however as a consumer of OG food, I can be assured my Yogurt will remain unchanged. That is just one example. Others are irradiation, GMOs. Really food technology changes very fast, and I would rather be in the 'control' group than the 'experimental' group.
so what you're saying is that if I gave you a cup of pesticides you'd drink.

additionally, your data does not seem to represent the full breadth of the organic food issue. Perhaps your argument here would be more believable if you included data about the current cancer rates in US, and how they have grown exponentially. why is this? Also your position as doctor seems to have bias your view of what is good for you and what is not. Lastly, let us not forget about about the great monetary incentives that exist behind perpetuating a system that makes individuals dependent on medical care and pharmaceutical companies.
Explain this to me.

I was 250 pound female who had tried very hard to lose weight the "correct" way. I ate lean protein and veggies, no fast food, and walked 2 miles every day. However, I was sick all the time with colds, etc. and not losing any weight at all. This went on for 4 (yes, FOUR) years. I went to doctors to make sure my systems were in order. I had no abnormalities with my thyroid, digestive system, etc. My bloodwork was normal.

Well, one day, I noticed a friend of mine was losing weight and although we were on the exact same diet (and by "diet" I reference our eating patterns, not a craze) and suddenly, she was losing weight and I wasn't. I asked her what she was doing.

She told me, "Oh, I started eating organically."

I scoffed and thought that there was NO WAY she could lose all of that weight by just buying organic food.

Now, pay close attention to this next part before you accuse me of "not having data." I switched what I was eating to organic food. I did NOTHING differently. I ate the same amount, at the same time, and worked out at the same rate. I did not cut my caloric intake. I did everything exactly the same.

I lost 100 pounds. Not ten, not twenty....ONE HUNDRED.

Remember, you're talking to a skeptic here. I didn't believe what I was seeing at all. In fact, I thought there was something wrong with me, so I went BACK to the doctor.

Once again, all of my tests were normal, except for a few. My blood pressure had dropped to a healthier rate. My cholesterol had dropped 15 points and my trigylcerides were shockingly low compared to what they had been. I haven't been sick in three years. Not one cold, not one stomach bug, nothing.

Now, if I don't eat mostly organic, my system goes into rebellion. I feel tired, sluggish, and my digestive tract does an automatic colon cleanse.

Oh, but that's all nonsense, right?

Tell it to the 30 classmates and coworkers who copied my switch and "mysteriously" got to their goal weight.

You know what else is "strange?" Most of those recalls for peanut butter, spinach, etc. don't happen here at the local organic markets. Funny, not one person came forward and pointed a finger at the organic produce here.

You are absolutely entitled to your opinion as I am entitled to mine. The difference is that I am not stating my opinion as fact. I'm stating it as relevant to myself and those who tried things in a different fashion. Just because it isn't a documented study doesn't mean it did not occur and that it has no merit.
Amy... You're a dumb ass debunking bitch. Go fuck fuck yourself
(Note to all) Don't listen to this lunatic.
Dr. Tetuer,

Thank you for taking the bullet on this one. For all of the knee-jerk responses, and character attacks, I'm sure that there are a few level-headed folks who will actually look further into the organic food myth, a billion dollar industry with a very strong lobby.

It is easy to find who is better educated on a topic in an internet discussion; the ones who resort to name calling, fear mongering, and defend their arguments with a litany of "you're wrong's" or "you're stupid's" should usually do a little more reading on both sides of the issue.
I grew up on an organic farm and worked for five years in the United States and Canada as an organic inspector. It pains me to say this, but the organic industry is a complete scam as Amy describes.

Did you know, for instance, that organic and natural foods are never tested in the field to ensure they’re even what they’re claimed to be? A bit of an oversight there. Imagine the Olympics without field testing. Can you say free-foe-all? Because that's what the multi-billion-dollar organic biz has become. We're told to buy organic to help small farmers, but the truth is that most organic food comes from large corporate farms, many of which are located over in China.

I’m the author of a critically-acclaimed book on the organic industry. Anyone interested in learning more about this can drop me a line by contacting me through my website: www.isitorganic.ca. I’m here to help.

MP
Dr. Tuteur,

Thank you for this article and especially for facing all your detractors head on by demonstrating how to assess and evaluate research and studies. As opposed to simply regurgitating previous claims or cut and pasting links, the work you are doing requires diligence, skill, experience and the results show it. Extremely well done.

As a Med/Surg RN, every single day I treat people who are suffering in large part because of their own unhealthy habits.

But I have yet to treat a single person who exercised regulary, drank a lot of water, didn't smoke or drink alcohol - but landed on my floor because they ate commercial produce rather than organic. Not one. Ever.

Now, of course my anecdotal evidence does not support your case at all; your review of the available peer reviewed material does that quite well.

Regards,

Dan, RN
This is a pretty old post but its still high on the google search list.

Anyway, my 2 cents.... I think there is too much stinkin info on the internet. Despite the data labeling organic as a "scam" I still think any effort to move to a more "Garden of Eden" ecology is a good move. Its true that mankind has made great strides in making life better, I might not have my son today if not for advancements in medical technology. That said, even too much of a "good thing" can be bad. Take penicillin for example. We now have resistant superbugs, mersa, strep and all kinds of nasty things antibiotics cant fix. My goal in my life is to encourage my natural ability to fight disease with the immune system God gave me. I truly feel that, that is hindered at some level with the toxins we have and continue to eat, drink and breath. I will continue to support any efforts to live as natural as possible.
Oh Amy..

You're either a shill for the fatass food industry, or a skeptic village idiot, suffering from severe cognitive dissonance. You need help.

I won't bother reading through these comments, however a quick scroll quickly reveals you've accomplished the mission of inciting discord, and spreading disinformation. Good job with that.

I'd call you a whore, but that wouldn't be very nice, and maybe not true about you. However, you seem to have no problem, sharing such subjective dog shit about what people should believe on this cute little blog site.

How about this. Close your dog shit lips, continue to live your life indoctrinated by the system, and we can carry on. Goodnight.