After a study by Stanford researchers, published September 4, concluded that organic foods had negligible health benefits, controversy occurred. Now critics, mostly from the environmental health and organic food communities, are challenging the study's methods, its accuracy and completeness, its framing questions, potential conflict of interest stemming from funding support, and the competence of the news media in reporting it.
"It offered all the ingredients for a highly clickable news story: an elite university, a reputable scientific journal, surprising results and a conclusion that would be welcomed by many.
There's no need to spend extra money buying organic at the grocery store, suggested the Stanford University press release, which stated that a university team's review of scientific literature published last Tuesday 'did not find strong evidence that organic foods are more nutritious or carry fewer health risks than conventional alternatives.'
'They did a good job in their press release,' said John Reganold, a crop and soil scientist at Washington State University. 'No difference would get a lot of press.'
And that it did."
Lynne Peeples reports for Huffington Post September 13, 2012.
"Flap Over Organic Food Study: Interview With the Journal Editor" (Los Angeles Times)
"Organic Food Hardly Healthier, Study Suggests" (CBS News)
"Organic Food: What Question Did the Study Ask?" (Knight Science Journalism Tracker)
"Stanford Scientists Cast Doubt on Advantages of Organic Meat and Produce" (New York Times)
"Critics Raise Alarms Over Stanford Organics Study" (care2)
"Stanford Organics Study A 'Fraud' – Linked to Cargill & Tobacco Money" (CorpWatch)
"5 Ways the Stanford Study Sells Organics Short" (Mother Jones/Tom Philpott)
"Busted! Co-Author of Stanford Study That Bashed Organics Found To Have Deep Ties To Big Tobacco's Anti-Science Propaganda" (NaturalNews)
"Big Ag Directly Funded Anti-Organics Stanford Study: Report" (Common Dreams)
"Nora Pouillon: Organics Are Healthier for You" (Washington Post/All We Can Eat/Nora Pouillon)
"Stanford Organics Study Misses the Point" (Organic Connections)
"Stanford's "Spin" on Organics Allegedly Tainted by Biotechnology Funding" (Cornucopia Institute)
"Key Author of the Study Has Ties To Big Tobacco and Long History of Anti-Science Propaganda" (Environmental and Food Justice blog)
"Re-Doubling My Commitment To Organic Food" (Environmental Working Group/AgMag blog)
"Emphasizing the Negative, Stanford Draws Wide Audience for Report on Organic Foods" (Chronicle of Higher Education)
Editorial: "The Case for Organic Food" (Los Angeles Times)
"Stanford Scientists Shockingly Reckless on Health Risk And Organics" (Huffington Post/Frances Moore Lappe)
"Are Organic Foods Safer or Healthier Than Conventional Alternatives?: A Systematic Review" (Annals of Internal Medicine)