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Organic food - food quality and potential health effects

a review of current knowledge, and a discussion of uncertainties

Mie, Axel and Wivstad, Maria (2015). Organic food - food quality and potential health effects. Uppsala: (NL, NJ) > Dept. of Crop Production Ecology, Sveriges lantbruksuniversitet.

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In this report, we try to approach the question “Is organic food healthier than conventional food?” from a scientific perspective. We can conclude that science does not provide a clear answer to this question. A small number of animal studies and epidemiological studies on health effects from the consumption of organic vs. conventional feed/food have been performed. These studies indicate that the production system of the food has some influence on the immune system of the consuming animal or human. However, such effects are not easily interpreted as positive or negative for health. The chemical composition of plants is affected by the production system; however, the relevance for human health is unclear, and when one focuses on single compounds such as vitamins, the picture is diffuse with small differences between production systems but large variations between studies. The composition of dairy products is definitely influenced by the organic vs. conventional husbandry systems due to different feeding regimes in these systems. From today’s knowledge of the functions of fatty acids, the composition of organic milk is more favorable for humans than the composition of conventional milk, due to a higher content of omega-3 fatty acids. However, less is known about other animal products, and dairy fats contribute little to the population’s intake of polyunsaturated fatty acids, so the importance for human health is small. For pesticides, organic food consumption substantially lowers pesticide exposure. According to European governmental bodies, pesticide residues in food are unlikely to have long-term effects on the health of consumers. There are however some important epidemiological studies, and uncertainties in pesticide regulation that may justify a precautionary approach for vulnerable population groups.

All the small pieces of evidence collected in this report justify more attention being paid to conducting epidemiological studies on the preference for organic vs. conventional food. From animal studies (namely on chicken health), from functional knowledge of fatty acids, and from epidemiological studies of pesticide effects, it would be possible to formulate interesting research hypotheses that could be tested in long-term studies of humans, dedicated to investigating potential health effects of conventional vs. organic food.

Authors/Creators:Mie, Axel and Wivstad, Maria
Title:Organic food - food quality and potential health effects
Subtitle:a review of current knowledge, and a discussion of uncertainties
Year of publishing :2015
Number of Pages:54
Place of Publication:Uppsala
Publisher:Centre for Organic Food & Farming (EPOK), Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
ISBN for printed version:978-91-576-9274-0
Publication Type:Report
Article category:Other scientific
Full Text Status:Public
Agris subject categories.:F Plant production > F08 Cropping patterns and systems
Q Food science > Q04 Food composition
S Human nutrition > S01 Human nutrition - General aspects
Subjects:(A) Swedish standard research categories 2011 > 3 Medical and Health Sciences > 303 Health Sciences > Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
(A) Swedish standard research categories 2011 > 4 Agricultural Sciences > 401 Agricultural, Forestry and Fisheries > Food Science
(A) Swedish standard research categories 2011 > 3 Medical and Health Sciences > 303 Health Sciences > Nutrition and Dietetics
Agrovoc terms:organic foods, food quality, health, proximate composition, pesticides, organic agriculture, dietary guidelines, sweden
Keywords:Organic food, health, food quality, health effects
Permanent URL:
ID Code:13027
Faculty:NJ - Fakulteten för naturresurser och jordbruksvetenskap
Department:(NL, NJ) > Dept. of Crop Production Ecology
Deposited By: SLUpub Connector
Deposited On:03 Mar 2016 12:44
Metadata Last Modified:21 Oct 2020 11:03

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