6 August 2001
‘Go organic and improve health’

By FWi staff

FARMERS can protect their own health and improve the quality of their produce by going organic, according to a new report by the Soil Association.

Science indicates that organic food is safer and better for you than non-organic food, claims the organic accreditation body in a new study.

The report, Organic Farming, Food Quality and Human Health, which examined more than 400 pieces of research, was launched in London on Monday (6 August).

“Available evidence on the health effects of occupational pesticide exposure and crop nutritional analyses suggests conversion to organic farming can protect your own health and improve the nutritional quality of crops grown,” it claims.

The report contradicts claims by Food Standards Agency chief executive Sir John Krebs that there is no evidence to show organic food is safer.

While conceding that more research is needed, the report concludes that organic food can improve consumers intake of minerals and vitamin C.

Eating organic produce can also reduce exposure to potentially harmful pesticide residues and food additives, says the report.

They are also higher in phytonutrients — compounds which protect plants from pests and disease and are beneficial in treating cancer, it claims.

Soil Association director Patrick Holden, Director said the government should increase support for the sector to improve the nations health.

“These findings, coupled with health concerns linked to pesticides, antibiotics, GMOs, nitrate and additives occurring in non-organic foods, suggests increased government support for organic production could have significant health benefits in addition to the environmental benefits already proven.”

The report Organic Farming, Food Quality and Human Health was compiled by Shane Heaton.

Among further research recommended in the 87-page report are long-term feeding trials with both animals and humans.

Meanwhile, teams of scientists have claimed that the worlds most popular organic pesticide could soon be rendered useless, reports The Independent.

Researchers, led by Fred Gould, professor of entomology at North Carolina, say that insects are becoming immune to Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt).

Bt produces toxins poisonous to insects and pests but harmless to other animals and humans and has been used in organic cultivation for decades.

But now the international team has discovered a genetic mutation among a moths making them highly resistant to Bt toxins.

The newspaper speculates that genetically modifying crops to include the Bt microbe may have increased the possibility that immunity could develop.

A separate study by scientists from the University of California at San Diego found Bt resistance in microscopic roundworms such as nematodes.

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