Daily News Archive
From May 7, 2002

Now there's proof: Organic foods DO have substantially less pesticides

Organic foods have been the source of tremendous controversy, some of which surrounds the cries of conservative media that organic foods contain as many pesticides as conventionally grown crops. According to a scientific study published today in the peer-reviewed journal Food Additives and Contaminants, organic foods DO have substantially less pesticide residue then conventionally grown crops

"We have shown that consumers who buy organic fruits and vegetables are exposed to just one-third as many residues as they'd eat in conventionally-grown foods, and the residues are usually lower as well," said Edward Groth III, Senior Scientist at CU and one of the paper's co-authors.

"The results are remarkably consistent across all three data sets," says Brian Baker of OMRI, a co-author of the study. "If we take the results as a whole, the evidence is very convincing that-as you'd expect-there are fewer residues by far in organically grown foods."

The question of why organic foods contained any pesticides at was explored by the team at CU. They found that when they used tests that excluded long-banned and environmentally persistent pesticides, such as DDT, the fraction of samples contaminated with pesticides decreased from 23 to 13 percent. Another source of pesticide residue is wind blown drift from conventional agricultural lands. Sources also point out that some samples containing pesticides were mislabeled as organic, either by fraud or carelessness is postproduction labeling.

A question about natural pesticides used by some organic gardeners still remains. There is no evidence at this time linking natural pesticides to adverse effects but this study encouraged future research to establish reliable toxicity data.