Organic Industry Funded Studies Claim Healthier Milk and Meat — Independent Scientists? “No Evidence”


Co-authored with Andrew Porterfield.

Are organic foods nutritionally better for you? If you are determined to make that claim despite hundreds of independent studies showing that’s not what the science says, here is what you might do:

Cherry pick studies, many funded by the organic industry; have the data analyzed by scientists funded by the organic industry; then spin the interpretation to turn neutral or even negative data to support your predetermined perspective.

If that sounds cynical, review the claims made in two meta-studies, on organic meat and milk, published in the British Journal of Nutrition on February 16. Newcastle University professor of ecological agriculture Carlo Leifert oversaw the analysis of 196 papers on milk and 67 on meat, claiming to find clear differences in terms of fatty acid composition, and concentrations of certain essential minerals and antioxidants that led them to conclude that organic milk and meat were healthier food choices.

The papers were selected from more than 500 available studies; it’s not entirely clear why certain studies were included and others not. One criteria clearly not used: whether a study was funded by industry. Many of the key studies cited in these findings were partially on wholly supported by industry groups, mostly organic organizations and companies, who are already benefiting from the perception that organics foods are more nutritious than comparable conventional foods.

Among the key claimed findings (some positive towards conventional foods, although played down in the two papers):