Recent research on organic shows health and environmental benefits

Based on the Organic Report (the official magazine of the Organic Trade Association), research studies published in 2016 highlighted the environmental and health benefits of organic. The benefits are summarized below:

Health Benefits

(1) Pesticides: Two studies out of China and Korea showed that up to a quarter of all leafy greens exceed the maximum allowable residue limit for pesticides, while another study specifically looking at persimmons found that over 35% of conventional persimmons have high levels of pesticides. Research on the impact of pesticides on children’s health was especially prevalent. Studies found that pre-natal and childhood exposure to pesticides may be linked to the development of obesity and metabolic disorders, developmental problems, neurodevelopmental impairment and decreased IQ.

(2) Hormone-disrupting chemicals: A research team from the University of California at Berkeley showed that cosmetics can play a big role in toxic chemical exposure. Researchers found that even a short break from using makeup, shampoos and lotions that contain certain kinds of synthetic chemicals can reduce levels of hormone-disrupting chemicals in teens.

(3) Antibiotic-resistant bacteria: The Organic Center released a report that reviews all the primary literature on antibiotic-resistant bacteria, showing that you can reduce your exposure to antibiotic-resistant bacteria through choosing organic. As organic doesn’t allow the use of antibiotics in its production, there is less prevalence of resistance with organic animal products.

(4) Omega-3 fatty acids: A study showed that organic milk has 56% more heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids than conventional milk, while one other study found that organic meat has 47% higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids than conventional meat.

Environmental Benefits

(1) Nitrogen pollution: Nitrogen contributes to many environmental problems, such as dead zones in the ocean. In 2016, the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico was the size of the state of Connecticut. Choosing organic is one way you can decrease the amount of new reactive nitrogen that gets released into the environment. During the year, The Organic Center released an interactive tool allowing people to measure their own nitrogen footprint and explore ways to decrease their impact.

(2) Biodiversity: Several recent studies have shown the benefits that organic farming can provide to the ecosystem, including one that found that organic production supports aquatic biodiversity in organic rice cultivation, and another showing that organic production improves biodiversity in the soil. An environmental tool released by The Organic Center allows farmers to measure and improve their on-farm biodiversity.