Are organics really safer?

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Related tags: Organic food, Bacteria

Are organic foods better for us? This is the question on the lips
of many a consumer, food manufacturer and scientist. For what,
exactly, is the consumer paying a higher price? The US Institute of
Food Technologists took a refreshing, no-nonsense position.

Are organic foods better for us? This is the question on the lips of many a consumer, food manufacturer and scientist. For what, exactly, is the consumer paying a higher price?

The US Institute of Food Technologists took a refreshing, no-nonsense position this week on the issue of organic foods when it stated: "Organic foods are not superior in nutritional quality or safety whencompared against conventional foods."

"Yet,"​ the non- profit organisation added, "organics do have the potential for greater pathogen contamination. Thus, purchasing organically grown produceis not necessary for safety or nutritional reasons."

With the above words the IFT has introduced a new issue into the organic forum. "Consumers need to understand that organic production does not meanpesticide-free and pathogen-free production,"​ stressed IFT food science expertCarl Winter, the director of the FoodSafe Program at University ofCalifornia at Davis.

According to the IFT, neither organic nor conventionally grown foods are free from pesticides. Scientific evidence indicates that health risks associated with disease-causing micro-organisms are far greater than risks associated withpesticide residues, which are negligible.

In a recent Expert Report, the IFT​ reveals that scientific information isinsufficient to ensure that foodborne pathogens are killed during compostingand applying manure, a significant vehicle for pathogens and the majorsource of fertiliser used for growing organic produce.

"Organics cannot supply foods always free from pathogens or pesticides, andcannot provide our nation with a more nutritional, diverse, and safe foodsupply than we currently enjoy,"​ said IFT president Mark McLellan and director of the Institute of Food Science &Engineering at Texas A&M University.

In a vote for the biotechnology and conventional food camp, McLellan added: "Conventionally grown foods that utilise well-researched techniquesincluding biotechnology benefit all consumers worldwide with a more abundantand economical food supply, foods of enhanced nutritional quality, and freshfruits and vegetables with improved shelf life."

In a bid to avoid any doubt, the IFT said in a statement: "IFT steadfastly supports the techniques of rDNA biotechnology whichsignificantly reduces or eliminates the application of pesticides."

Related topics: Research

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