A new report backed by European Parliament scientists has concluded that eating organic food has a variety of benefits for human health, ranging from early development to reduced risk of disease and more potentially beneficial nutrients.
The major study into the benefits of organic food and farming, entitled ‘Human health implications of organic food and organic agriculture’, was carried out by the European Parliament’s independent Research Service and draws together scientific research into the differences between organic and non-organic food and farming.
The organic farming industry has seen this as an overwhelming win, with Peter Melchett, Soil Association policy director, describing the report as a 'great Christmas present' for organic farmers and advocates.
Mr Melchett said: “Organic food sales have been growing strongly for three years, and a key reason that people buy organic food sales is that they feel it is better for them and their family – that is why more than half the baby food sold in the UK is organic. This new, independent, scientific review confirms people are right.”
Number of benefits
To date, there have been very few studies exploring the benefits of organic food and farming on human health.
While the authors agree that more research, in particular more long-term studies, are required to fully understand the evidence, the report states that early studies have found a number of benefits of organic food, including reduced risk of allergies in children and reduced risk of antibiotic resistance through organic farming practices.
Peter Melchett continued: “Organic food is generally more expensive than non-organic, for example because organic standards require not just free range but smaller flock sizes, lower stocking densities (the amount of space allowed for each bird, pig or cow), and cows and sheep eating mainly grass-based diets and no GM animal feed.
“Organic farmers do not use manufactured fertiliser, leading generally to lower yields. In return, consumers get far lower use of antibiotics, organic meat with more desirable poly-unsaturated and omega-3 fatty acids, dairy products with higher concentrations of total omega-3 fatty acids, and grains, pulses, fruit and veg with more desirable antioxidants and less potentially harmful cadmium, nitrogen and pesticide residues.”