Effects of organic farming practices on food composition and human health

Recent meta-analyses of published data on the nutritional composition of organic and conventional crops and livestock products have identified substantial and nutritionally relevant differences between organic and conventional crops and livestock products.

Organic crops had higher concentrations of a wide range of antioxidants, 50% lower concentrations of the toxic metal cadmium and pesticide residues more than 4 times more frequently found in conventional compared to organic crops. Organic milk and beef were shown to have higher concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids, and organic milk also contained higher levels of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and certain antioxidants/ vitamin (e.g. carotenoids, vitamin E) . The 4 human cohort studies. in which associations between organic food consumption and human health parameters were studied, all focused on the health of mothers and newly-born children or infants.

They reported that organic vegetable and/or dairy consumption is associated with a reduced incidence in male genital deformation at birth, eczema in infants and/or pre-eclampsia in mothers. The paper will review the currently available evidence for composition differences and potential health benefits of organic food consumption and the current understanding of the mechanisms responsible.


Theme: food systems
Published: 28th January 2016
Author: Carlo Leifert