Are Organic Foods Safer?

Are Organic Foods Safer?

“Are Organic Foods Safer?” The stated principles
of organic agriculture are “health, ecology,
fairness, and care,” but if you ask people
why they buy organic, the strongest predictor
was concern for their own health
or their family’s. People may spend
more for organic more for selfish, rather
than altruistic motives. Although organic foods may not
have more nutrients per dollar, consumption of organic foods
may reduce exposure to pesticide residues and
antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Food safety-wise, they found
no difference in the risk of contamination with food
poisoning bacteria, in general. Both organic and conventional animal
products were commonly contaminated with Salmonella and
Campylobacter, for example. Most chicken samples were
found to be contaminated, either way, with Campylobacter,
about a third with Salmonella. But the risk of exposure to
multi-drug resistant bacteria, resistant to multiple
classes of antibiotics, was lower with
the organic meat. So they both may carry the
same risk of making us sick, but food poisoning
from organic meat may be easier for
doctors to treat. What about the pesticides? There’s a large body of
evidence on the relation between exposure to pesticides and
elevated rate of chronic diseases, such as different types
of cancer, diabetes, neurodegenerative disorders like
Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and ALS, as well as birth defects
and reproductive disorders, but they’re talking about people
who live or work around pesticides. Take Salinas Valley,
California, for example, where they spread a half
million pounds of the stuff. Daring to be pregnant in an
agricultural community like that may impair childhood
brain development such that pregnant women
with the highest levels running through their bodies,
as measured in their urine, gave birth to children with an average
deficit of about 7 IQ points. 26 out of 27 studies showed
negative effects of pesticides on brain development in children. These included attention problems, developmental disorders, and
short-term memory difficulties. If you compare kids
born with higher levels of a common insecticide
in their umbilical cord blood, those who were exposed
to higher levels are born with brain anomalies.
And these were city kids, so presumably this was from
residential pesticide use. Residential exposure
to pesticides, like using insecticides
inside your house, may be a contributing factor for
cancers like childhood leukemia, suggesting that awareness be
increased among populations occupationally exposed
to pesticides about their potential negative influence
on the health of their children, though I don’t imagine most
farm workers have much of a choice. Pregnant farm workers may
be doubling the odds of their child getting leukemia and increase their risk
of getting a brain tumor. So conventional produce
may be bad for the pregnant women
who picks them, but what about our own
family when we eat them? Well, first of all, just because we spray
pesticides on foods in the fields doesn’t mean it ends up in
our bodies when we eat it, or at least we didn’t know that until
this study was published in 2006. Researchers measured the
levels of two pesticides running through children’s
bodies by measuring specific pesticide breakdown
products in their urine. Here’s the level of pesticides
flowing through the bodies of 3 to 11-year olds during a
few days on a conventional diet. Then they went on an
organic diet for 5 days and then back to the
conventional diet. It’s clear that eating organic
provides a dramatic and immediate protective effect against
exposures to pesticides commonly used in
agricultural production. The study was subsequently extended. Can you guess when the
kids were eating organic? You don’t even need the
labels on the graph to tell. What about adults though? We didn’t know… until now. 13 men and women consume a diet of at least 80% organic
or conventional food for 7 days and then switched. And no surprise. During
the mostly organic week pesticide exposure was
significantly reduced, and not just by a little, a nearly 90% drop in exposure. So it could be concluded that
consumption of organic foods does provide protection
against pesticides, but does that mean protection
against disease? We don’t know — the studies
just have not been done. Nevertheless, in the meantime,
the consumption of organic food provides a logical
precautionary approach.

42 thoughts on “Are Organic Foods Safer?

  1. are there studies being done on outcomes now? that presentation looked ripe for federal investigation

  2. Organic food consumption appears to reduce exposure to pesticide residues and antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

    Watch below or click the link to watch on

  3. NOT all people can afford Organic food as it is more xpensive than conventional ones., so  does it mean that vegan non organic food consummer will die sooner with cancer , MS, etc ? ? I hate organic food propaganda, it is UNFAIR for those who can not afford it .
    SO what for being vegan then ??? ….

  4. What you didn't mention is that the study that you focused on at the end was only focused on organophosphate–the synthetic pesticide used in conventional agriculture. Copper sulfates are the organic equivalent and are actually more toxic than organophosphates so it would have been interesting to see the level of organic pesticides in the organic eating group

    It seemed like you completely ignored the fact that organic doesn't mean 'pesticide free'. I would really like to hear you to compare the effects of organic pesticides vs conventional pesticides. From my reading, I have found that they are equally toxic.

  5. I watched your video about washing fruits and vegetables, and I was curious if washing can decrease the amount of pesticides in our body. I try to buy organic as often as I can, but sometimes I am not able to. I would like to lower my risk of pesticides as much as I can. 


  6. "logical precautionary approach" 90 percent reduction in exposure to pesticides where does the 10% come from?  How much does it add to health care costs? I bet more the cost of the food.

     Allow the homeless/ out of work people reasonable working conditions. Such as sun, heat and bug protection clothing. As in a one piece jumper with a head covering off the face. It could have a breathing filter and be lined with tubes to cool the body using supercapacitors for the power to circulate water from a back pack with ice and water. A simple regulator to let in more ice water when it gets too warm. This allows working people to not get sunburn, overheated or bit by chiggers, fleas, ticks mosquitoes and so on.

    They can Work a few hours picking weeds and vacuuming bugs in exchange for shelter and food. Additional work can also be done for extra goods and services. telephone, internet, Transportation and so on.  Food needs washing preparing cooking and clean up. Plus the animals we consume to be treated humanely and for our safety need better looking after. there is also road repair maintenance for public places. It is a WIN Win for all. We who have private jobs get better food at lower costs. They get what they need doing meaningful work under good working conditions. I would do it if i did not have work because it is good for me personally and necessary for our long term survival of our species. Cant be adding untold millions and millions of pounds of pesticides and herbicides to water supply every year without tainting the water enough to cause long term health problems.  Also because I was not getting burnt, bit, or over worked on tasks to the point it breaks down my body unnecessarily. There are tens of millions of people needing work and many hands make light work. Now we just need to get voting for it, to make it a reality.

  7. Funny how times have changed in the USA. I remember when I had to take the TOEFL when I first arrived…There was a multiple choice question "What does the cow feed on?" A) Slop B) Grass C) Grain…I got it wrong because I chose B) Grass…This is because in Africa where I was born, that was what cattle ate. Strange wasn't it? That was how I found out why the food was so different.
    Personally,  I purchase organic food from Costco; but wonder how we can even be sure that organic grains, fruits and vegetables, are grown from whole and natural seeds in the West?
        In Africa, the term organic food is irrelevant; food  is grown naturally; from original seeds and seedlings, as well as animals raised on the land, in unindustrialized fashion, using old fashioned systems of farming. Poverty and starvation is only prevalent on the continent  not because our farming techniques are small scale, but rather due to socioeconomic reasons, stemming from mass corrupt leadership and lawlessness.

  8. I can't afford organic so I buy frozen veggies. 80-90% of residual pesticides are removed through the blanching and freezing process. That's good enough for me. For fruits, I wash until squeaky clean then peel.

  9. As per your advise, we should eat the rinds and peels of fruits and veggies to achieve higher nutrition/antioxidants, , but what about pesticides? In your book, you addressed that a fruit not being organic is no reason to not eat it. However, for example, given the choice between conventional berries (probably sprayed with tons of pesticides but highly nutritious, as you claim) and conventional melons (which you say are not as nutritious by comparison), which do you eat? For the melon, you will not be eating the peel, therefore probably avoiding consumption of many pesticides and for the berries it is inevitable.

    To take this further, what about conventional berries vs. organic bananas. We know berries are the king of fruits, but whats the better choice?

  10. I have a difficult time reading scientific studies myself, but am wondering how thorough the studies for organic vs conventional were. My question: it was looking for conventional pesticides. But it wasn't looking for organic pesticides and herbicides. Testing for them would be a completely different set of criteria. Currently, there is very little, if any regulation on organic pesticides, and some, like chrysanthemum, is a very potent neurotoxin. Yet, can be sprayed all over our food, in unlimited quantities. Is this better? Or are we safer with regulated chemicals? The cost alone is moving me to question this whole messed up situation. I've been a huge supporter of organic foods, but can't spend less than $125 at the grocery store for 2 people, sometimes twice a week… This isn't sustainable, seemingly in either case. Real answers and responses please. I'm actually wanting to figure this out.

  11. Hi, i'm a student, and where i live in canada all we have around here is walmart,sobeys, and superstore. How can i make sure i get healthy clean fruits and veggies? are conventional that bad for health?

  12. Correction – the latest and largest study of its kind (recently published in the British Journal of Nutrition) has now proven that there IS significant nutritional differences between organic and so-called 'conventionally grown' fruits/vegetables, meat and milk (up to 69% more phytonutrients in the veg and up to 50% more omega 3 and 6 fatty acids in the meat/milk). This was a combination of primary research and a huge meta study which measured the results of 340+ independent studies into the nutritional differences of organic vs conventional.

  13. Also – you question if eating pesticides actually harms health. The science is well and truly in for that, including a study published by the WHO/IARC last year which lead to the reclassification of glysophate as a 'probable human carcinogen'

  14. Great video. It is possible that the higher cost per nutrient in organic versus conventional would be offset if organic were subsidized as are conventional crops. Perhaps, the more we vote for organic as consumers, the more likely profit hungry conventional food corporations will make the switch. I feel good about putting some of my discretionary budget towards funding the campaign for safer more nutritious foods that build rather than deplete soils and that do not make us dependent on the closed loop of certain farming machinery, pesticide and seed that the federal government requires subsidized farmers use. My dollar, my vote.

  15. So what about eating fruits Wich you don't eat the skin? Like mangoes, bananas, etc. I can presume that with those the exposure to pesticides is lower than eating non organic apples (which is what I do).
    Or what do you think?

  16. AMR is a pandemic predicted to kill 300 million humans by 2050

    I have a refractometer which is a great way to test the quality of different organic foods, Plus I grow a lot of my own.

  17. Roach sprays build up over the years. Most apartments spray regularly all over houses and it seeps into countertops and walls and floors and never goes away. old housing and practices are a big health problem.

  18. But unfortunately, many times when I want to make the organic purchase, they look like hell … small spindly-looking celery, along with a myriad of other wilted, very sad-looking choices … and the kicker is, the supermarket is being supplied by local farms! Everything should look fantastic. Why do most organic veggies look like they've just received chemotherapy?

  19. I already choose organic, but now I’ll be thinking about the farm workers instead of just myself and my family. Protecting them is just one more reason to choose organic. Wouldn’t it be great of the demand for organic surpassed that of conventional produce?!

  20. Way to dance around the subject . I can't blame up big ag is watching . Spray chems on anything is bad why the hell do we need so called pros to tell us this ?
    We are loosing are common sense .

  21. But what about these points? Leave a comment I want to know people's thoughts.

  22. Does anyone know if organic produce introduces more unsafe organic pesticides? What's the next Health effect? Does Dr Greger have another video taking about net effects?

  23. Thanks so much Dr. Greger!! The agriculture industry should move towards organic as this is the option more and more people are demanding. We just don´t want that many chemicals in our organisms.

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