Latest Research Studies and Reports

Organic can feed the world sustainably
An article published in the scientific journal Nature Plants has found that organic farming has an important role to play in sustainably feeding an ever-growing global population. Researchers noted that while organic agriculture does produce slightly lower yields when compared to conventional agriculture, organic farms are more profitable, deliver more environmental benefits, and are healthier in terms of increased nutritional benefit and reduced dietary pesticide exposure than conventionally produced foods. Furthermore, they found that organic agriculture provides social benefits and contributes substantially to human health by reducing occupational hazards such as pesticide exposure. In spite of these benefits, the authors cite significant barriers to the adoption and growth of organic agriculture, including lack of research funding to develop new tools and technologies for organic growers, economic barriers, lack of information, and difficulty in overcoming negative biases. READ MORE

Pesticide absorption negatively affects toads
A recent study published in the journal Water, Air, and Soil Pollution found that dermal exposure to low levels of the common pesticides chlorpyrifos, 2,4-D, and glyphosate resulted in neurotoxicity, oxidative stress and immunological depression in the common toad. The results demonstrate that dermal exposure to all three pesticide formulations had negative health impacts on the toads. READ MORE

Organochlorine may affect thinking skills
A study published in the scientific journal Environmental International has detected a link between exposure to organochlorine pesticides and low cognitive scores in the elderly living in the United States. Researchers found that while exposure to non-persistent pesticides such as organophosphates and pyrethroids were not associated with changes in cognitive score, organochlorine pesticides were. “The potential role of background exposure to organochlorine pesticides in the development of dementia should be explored in future prospective studies,” the authors concluded. READ MORE

Organic rice cultivation supports aquatic biodiversity
A recent study published in Basic and Applied Ecology sought to understand how the use of agrochemicals, water management and mechanization in conventional rice fields affected biodiversity, and whether organic rice cultivation techniques could provide a solution. Researchers found that many of the species collected from organic rice fields were only found in natural ponds and not in conventional rice fields, suggesting that organic rice fields supported a more natural assemblage of organisms. Furthermore, the macroinvertebrates typically found in ponds and organic rice fields but not conventional rice fields were natural predators. READ MORE

Latest Updates from The Organic Center 

Good Food, Good Company, Good Science
The Organic Center will hold its 13th Annual Benefit Dinner on Thursday, March 10, from 6 to 11 p.m. in Anaheim, CA, in conjunction with Natural Products Expo West. Support the important work of The Center and enjoy the company of your colleagues, an inspired organic menu, and thought-provoking speakers including Alice Waters. Sponsorship opportunities, reserved VIP tables and tickets are now available. Contact Amy Bovaird to learn more.

The all-organic menu for the dinner will be designed by "CheFarmer" Matthew Raiford, who is executive chef and owner at The Farmer and The Larder, an eatery committed to sustainability and health that was just named one of the South’s most exciting new restaurants. The event will also feature live entertainment by the Killer Dueling Pianos. The fabulous combination of live music, a mouthwatering menu by Chef Raiford and a thought-provoking keynote speech by Alice Waters promises to make this a night to remember. Follow our live highlights from the Benefit Dinner on Twitter and Instagram (@OrganicCenter #OrganicBenefit) and join the conversation by sharing your favorite scientific facts about organic using the #OrganicBenefit hashtag!

Register for the first-ever Organic Confluences Summit
The Organic Confluences Summit, organized by The Organic Center, is a one-day event that will be held on May 23, 2016, in conjunction with Organic Week in D.C. The conference will focus on bringing together scientific experts, farmers, policymakers and organic stakeholders to explore how organic research can influence policy practices that create incentives for sustainable agricultural practices. We’ll work together to connect the dots between evidence-based research on organic and national conservation programs. See the full summit agenda for more details. You can register for Confluences for $79, or add on OTA’s Policy Conference and Hill Visit Days for a discounted rate. 

Manure Safety Discussion Session at MOSES
At the MOSES Organic Farming Conference February 25-27, The Organic Center and the Organic Trade Association held a Manure Safety Discussion Session in collaboration with the University of California, Davis. The session was led by The Organic Center’s Science Advisory Board Member Dr. Riki Sorge, a professor at the University of Minnesota. This discussion group addressed the challenges associated with manure and animal rotational grazing, and was part of a national effort to address issues surrounding animal-based soil amendments and animal rotational grazing. Listening sessions are being conducted regionally, with the results being collected in a white paper that will help shape a long-term research plan addressing the most pressing needs of the organic community. For more information about the discussion group, visit the MOSES Conference Expert Roundtable page.

Webinar about Measuring On-farm Biodiversity
The Organic Center and Furman University presented a webinar in February about measuring on-farm biodiversity using a simple, free public tool called the Healthy Farm Index. Nature provides the foundation on which sustainable farming is built. However, nature is complex, challenging to predict, and change on a farm is difficult to track over time. In this webinar, we framed sustainable agriculture practices in light of their connection to nature and more specifically biodiversity. We also provided a demonstration of a new online interactive version of the Healthy Farm Index. The Index is a biodiversity and ecosystem service planning and monitoring tool for (organic) farmers to better understand the direction connection to actions taken and responses at the farm scale. Use of the Index will help farmers and other landowners better understand how nature on their farm changes, and more importantly, how this change benefits the farm and the surrounding environment. We ended the webinar with a brief discussion on how the Health Farm Index could align with the new USDA biodiversity and natural resource guidelines, and a question and answer session.

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