On Sept. 4, Stanford University’s Center for Health Policy published a study in the Annals of Internal Medicine whose conclusion made international headlines but has since been questioned in the media, including by several readers right here on Eagle Rock Patch, where the study was mentioned shortly after a new organic foods store opened in the neighborhood.
According to the Stanford study, there’s no compelling evidence that organic foods are more nutritious than conventional ones or that organic foods help reduce health risks, even though they may contain relatively fewer traces of pesticides and antibiotic resistant bacteria.
Two nonprofit organizations—one that specializes in public policy debates and another that focuses on organic farm policy issues—have questioned the Stanford study in online articles that add interesting new information to the controversy the study is generating.
The first organization, called Remapping Debate, spoke with one of the study’s lead authors, Crystal Smith-Spangler, and asked her why the study only focused on the direct health impacts of organic and non-organic foods on consumers, while ignoring the environmental and other health and safety impacts of producing those foods.
Smith-Spangler’s response was that it was beyond the scope of the Stanford study to review the environmental impacts of growing organic and non-organic foods. “Our goal was to present the evidence and try to help people understand the evidence,” the researcher was quoted as saying. “But our goal was not to tell people what or what not to do.”
The other organization that questioned the Stanford findings has accused the study of being “tainted by biotechnology funding.”
Called The Cornucopia Institute, the organization charges that the Stanford researchers were supported by the university’s Freeman Spogli Institute, which evidently has ties to agribusiness giant Cargill and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which, in turn, has ties to biotech corporations such as Monsanto.
“Stanford researchers had touted their independence by stating they had not received outside financial support for their study, but failed to delineate the close ties between their internal funding sources and industrialized agriculture and biotechnology interests,” The Cornucopia Institute Food and Farm Policy Director Charlotte Vallaeys is quoted as saying in an article on the institute’s website.
Click here to read the Remapping Debate article, titled “Stanford Researcher Readily Acknowledges Limitations of Study on Organic Versus Conventional Food.”
And click here to read The Cornucopia Institute article, titled “Stanford ‘Spin’ on Organics Allegedly Tainted by Biotechnology Funding.”