Organic Food & Your Health

“The recent fatal E. coli outbreak centred on Germany has focused attention on the validity of the claims that organic food is healthier and safer. The outbreak has been traced to bean sprouts grown on an organic farm in Bienenbüttel, northern Germany. As New Scientist went to press, 35 people had died in the outbreak and thousands more were made ill. As a result, concern is growing over standards of microbiological food safety in organic farming. So are we at higher risk of E. coli and other food-borne diseases from organic food and, if so, what can producers do to reduce this risk and restore confidence in the organic brand? There have been very few scientific studies comparing the microbiological safety of organic and conventional food production systems. In theory, organic food could be more prone to microbial contamination due to the absence of preservatives and the use of manure as fertiliser. However, where studies have been carried out, the results have not been conclusive. This is due to a number of factors, including a small sample size and a failure to factor in seasonal and regional variations. What is clear is that both organic and conventional foods are susceptible to contamination by pathogenic microorganisms at every point in the food chain. It can occur during production, from manure and water, during processing from environmental sources and during the final handling and packing, possibly as a result of poor human sanitation.”

To me this merely illustrates that “organic food” production relies on technology just as much as any other form of food production and that it comes with its own dangers that have to be mitigated against.  Since organic foods have not been demonstrated to be more nutritive, nor more friendly to the environment, etc. I’m still not quite sure why people pursue their production, but to each their own I say.  However, that doesn’t mean the state should intervene to favor one or the other, and as far as I can tell, that is exactly what lots of food advocates across the spectrum want.

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