Response LBI to organic food study
Study by Stanford University leads to unfounded conclusions in the media
The recent literature study by Stanford University mainly shows that it is too early to draw conclusions about the health effects of organic food products. This is stated by Jan Willem Erisman, director of the Louis Bolk Institute. "Instead of the premature conclusion of the Dutch media that organic food products are not healthier, the study mainly shows that more research is needed – which is relevant, because the consumption of organic food products is growing. So far only a limited number of food compounds have been studied, and very few studies have addressed the effects on human health."
From compounds to health effects
More than 90% of the 237 reviewed studies focused on comparing the content of compounds such as vitamins and proteins. "Clearly, this is not the same as studying effects on human health," says Erisman. "Moreover, only a very limited number of compounds have been analyzed – there are thousands more that have not been studied, but which also have a function. It is therefore too early to draw scientifically sound conclusions about the general health effects of organic products or products from high-input agriculture."
From preliminary to final evidence
There are indications that organic food products do have positive health effects. In the KOALA study performed by the Louis Bolk Institute and Maastricht University, the incidence of eczema was observed to be up to 30% lower in young children consuming organically produced dairy products. The researchers expect that larger-scale studies, using modern techniques such as Metabolomics, could uncover more of such effects. These preliminary results clearly call for follow-up research. This research will be complex and time consuming – but also extremely relevant in a society where health promotion and health care are valued highly, and claim a large share of the public budget.
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