Latest Research Studies and Reports
Organic milk has a better nutritional profile
An article published recently in PLOS-ONE shows that organic milk has a healthier nutritional profile than conventional milk. For the first time, researchers took a long-term, nation-wide look at how farming practices affect milk quality. Specifically, they examined omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acid ratios. Healthy omega-6:omega-3 ratios are low, around 2.3:1, but unhealthy diet trends have increased that ratio to between 10 and 15:1. These omega fatty acid deficiencies can have negative health consequences, including inflammation, higher risk of heart disease, weight gain, depression, and diabetes. In this study, researchers examined 220 organic and 164 conventional samples from dairies around the United States. They found that organic milk contained 25 percent less omega-6 fatty acids and 62 percent more omega-3 fatty acids than conventional milk, yielding a 2.5-fold higher omega-6:omega-3 ratio in conventional compared to organic milk. The study also took a look at how adult women could alter their diet to increase their consumption of omega-3 fatty acids. They found that by consuming high levels of organic milk with reduced intake of omega-6 fatty acids in their diet, women could decrease their omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acid profile by around 80 percent. This study shows that consuming organic dairy products is a great way to increase your omega-3 fatty acid intake. Just think, you can add this to your excuses to eat more organic ice cream!

Pesticides may affect the spread of invasive species
A new study from New Zealand shows that exposure to neonicotinoid pesticides can affect the way that invasive insects interact with native insects. The research focused on the invasive Argentine ant and the native southern ants, examining how their behaviors were altered by exposure to low doses of neonicotinoids. Researchers found that exposure had differing effects on ant behavior, greatly skewing survival in favor of the invasive Argentine ants. While neonicotinoid exposure decreased aggressive behavior in native southern ants, it had the opposite effect on Argentine ants, increasing their aggression to a dangerous level. As a result, Argentine ants were able to completely eradicate native southern ant test populations. Neonicotinoid exposure also decreased Argentine ant brood size, so it is difficult to make conclusions about the future of these invasive populations. However, this study shows a clear example of how neonicotinoids may impact both native and invasive species, with the potential to push native ecosystems out of equilibrium.

High strawberry yields without toxic fumigants
Methyl bromide is an organobromine compound used as a fumigant. Although methyl bromide use has been phased out pursuant to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer and the Clean Air Act, exemptions continue to be made for strawberry production. One of the primary issues with methyl bromide is that it depletes the ozone, but health effects associated with exposure are also of concern. To avoid the environmental and health risks associated with this chemical, recent studies have attempted to find methods for growing strawberries without the use of methyl bromide. An article published in California Agriculture points out some non-fumigant alternatives for strawberry growers: soil-less production, bio fumigation, anaerobic soil disinfestation, and disinfestation with steam. The results showed that fruit yields on plots testing soil-less production, anaerobic soil disinfestation, and disinfestation with steam were all comparable to those on conventionally fumigated plots. This gives hope that future strawberry production will be less reliant on these toxic chemicals, and may allow for fewer exemptions to the use of methyl bromide.
Pesticides under-estimated as a driver of amphibian decline
A recent article published in Scientific Reports details the harmful effects that agricultural pesticides can have on amphibians. Amphibians such as frogs and newts are experiencing declining populations around the world. One of the causes for this decline is exposure to chemicals such as pesticides used on conventional farms. Unfortunately, the exact health effects these pesticides have on different amphibian life stages are still not well understood. To address these issues, researchers in Germany examined how seven pesticides affected juvenile European common frogs. When they modeled agricultural spray scenarios using the recommended application rates for the pesticides, they found that frogs experienced high mortality, ranging from 100 percent after one hour to 40 percent after seven days, indicating that pesticides may have a large-scale negative effect on amphibian health, Noting that “Terrestrial pesticide exposure might be under-estimated as a driver of their decline,” the researchers called for more attention to this issue in conservation efforts, and pointed out that risk assessment procedures in place do not protect this vanishing animal group.
Latest Updates from The Organic Center
Save the date: 11th Annual VIP Dinner
Please plan to attend The Organic Center’s 11th Annual VIP Dinner to learn about all that The Organic Center has accomplished during the past year. It has been an exciting year, and The Center looks forward to sharing its vision with you for the future. The dinner will take place on March 7 at the Hilton in Anaheim, CA, in conjunction with Natural Products Expo West. Tickets go on sale in late January. If you are interested in learning about this year’s sponsorship opportunities, contact Joan Bowman for more information.

The Organic Center in the press
The Organic Center released a joint press release with the Organic Trade Association (OTA) highlighting the importance of reducing agricultural use of antibiotics. In response to the continued increase in research highlighting the link between using antibiotics in livestock rearing and the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced plans to help phase out the use of antibiotics for enhancing growth or improving feed efficiency in food-producing animals. OTA and The Organic Center reminded the public that organic already is a clear choice to avoid antibiotics in livestock production.
The science behind why organic is good for your health
The Organic Center gave a webinar to Sprouts customers about the negative health effects associated with pesticide exposure. The webinar covered past, present, and future patterns of pesticide contact, and took an in-depth look at some of the most commonly used toxins in agricultural production. If you missed the webinar, you can view the recording of it here!
Farmer’s Advisory Council meeting
The Organic Center had a presence at the December meeting of the Organic Trade Association's (OTA's) Farmer’s Advisory Council (FAC), which is comprised of small- to medium-sized organic farmers, ranchers and growers who advise OTA on matters pertinent to the advancement of organic agriculture. The Center discussed the current research being conducted, and asked for input on future areas of research needs from the perspective of a farmer.
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