Organic milk and vegetables may be more nutritious than their non-organic counterparts, suggest early results from a £12m study.

Scientists led by Professor Carlo Leifert at Newcastle University have spent four years comparing organic and non-organic food.

They found that organic fruit and vegetables contained up to 40% more antioxidants than non-organic varieties.

Levels of antioxidants in organic milk were up to 90% higher than in milk from conventional herds.

Medical experts believe antioxidants can reduce the risk of cancer and coronary heart disease.

The research flies in the face of advice from the Food Standards Agency, which insists there is no evidence to suggest organic food is better.

It is part of the EU-funded Quality Low Input Food project, based at Newcastle University’s 350ha (865-acre) Nafferton Farm, in Northumberland.

Half of the farm’s dairy herd and farmland was converted to organic production for comparison with adjacent conventional farming methods.

Full results from the study will be published over the next 12 months.

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