July 2014
Latest Research Studies and Reports
American Medical Association seeks ban on agricultural antibiotic use
The American Medical Association (AMA) adopted a resolution in June calling for the ban of antibiotics used in animal farming for growth promotion. This large-scale, inappropriate use of antibiotics has led to the development and spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which is quickly becoming a devastating epidemic. “Use drives resistance, and overuse drives resistance to happen even faster,” said David Wallinga, a physician on the Keep Antibiotics Working steering committee, adding, “As much as 70 percent of the use in agriculture is unnecessary or overuse.” Last year the Center for Disease Control released a report showing that antibiotic resistance was responsible for over 2 million illnesses and 23 thousand deaths, and the World Health Organization (WHO) recently declared that antibiotic resistant superbugs have reached global epidemic proportions. Currently, the only way to ensure that the animal products you consume were not raised with antibiotics is by choosing organic!
Organic agriculture is better for the birds
A new article published in the journal Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment shows that organic farming could be beneficial for songbirds. Many bird species have been experiencing population declines due to intensive conventional farming practices. One of the reasons linked to these declines is the lack of food for young songbirds unable to leave their nests, or “nestling food.” Researchers found that because organic farming does not use synthetic pesticides and has longer, more diverse crop rotations, organic farms result in higher availability of nestling food than conventional farms. This publication adds to the body or research showing that organic agriculture plays an important role in the maintenance of biodiversity, and may be key in preventing populations of farmland birds from continuing to decline.
Nutritional benefits of organic tomatoes reaffirmed
Tomatoes are well known for being a vegetable with high antioxidant capacity. They contain carotenoid pigments including lycopene, associated with such health benefits as bone health, reduced risk of prostate cancer, and decreasing sun damage by UV radiation. Several studies have shown higher antioxidant levels in organic tomatoes when compared to conventional tomatoes. A new study published in the IOSR Journal of Agriculture and Veterinary Science supports these previous findings by showing that organic tomatoes have significantly higher antioxidant ability than conventional tomatoes.
Research confirms link between neonicotinoids and honeybee decline
A new study published in the Bulletin of Insectology by Harvard researchers found further evidence of the link between neonicotinoid use and Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), in which bees abandon their hives over the winter and eventually die. This study was led by Professor Chensheng (Alex) Lu, an Advisory Board member for The Organic Center and Associate Professor of Environmental Exposure Biology at the Harvard School of Public Health. Findings support his previous research, which found that 94 percent of hives exposed to low levels of the neonicotinoid imidacloprid died within 23 weeks of exposure. The new study found that the same negative effects were associated with bee exposure to clothianidin as with imidacloprid. “We demonstrated again in this study that neonicotinoids are highly likely to be responsible for triggering CCD in honeybee hives that were healthy prior to the arrival of winter,” said Dr. Lu.
Herbicide exposure linked to non-Hodgkin lymphoma
Researchers at the International Agency for Research on Cancer recently published a study in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health documenting three decades’ worth of epidemiological research on the relationship between occupational exposure to pesticides and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Examining 44 studies from high-income countries covering 80 active ingredients in 21 pesticide groups, the scientists found several strong links between pesticide exposure and development of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. For example, phenoxy herbicides, carbamate insecticides, organophosphorus insecticides and the active ingredient lindane (an organochlorine insecticide) were all associated with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The organophosphorus herbicide glyphosate, the active ingredient in Round-Up, was associated with the non-Hodgkin lymphoma subtype called B cell lymphoma, as were phenoxy herbicides. These findings are especially worrisome because the use levels of several of these pesticides have dramatically increased over the past decade, and may continue to increase with expanded planting of herbicide-resistant genetically modified crops. Make sure to limit your exposure by choosing organic!

Latest Updates from The Organic Center
Featured: Re-publication of the Séralini study
The study published in 2012 in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology by Séralini et al. entitled “Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize” was recently re-published in the journal Environmental Sciences Europe. This research article, documenting dramatic health effects of GMOs on rats, found that GMO corn can have a significant negative impact on health when consumed chronically over a long period of time. Despite the importance of the study and the sound methods used in the investigation, the article was retracted under questionable circumstances over a year after being published. The Organic Center is delighted to see that the retraction was challenged, and that the article has now been re-published in a peer-reviewed journal. Learn more about the study findings and details behind the study retraction by reading our blog.
Partnering with Teens Turning Green for Project Green Challenge
The Organic Center has partnered with Teens Turning Green to support this year’s Project Green Challenge. Project Green Challenge is a month-long event that engages high school and college students in environmentally themed challenges, with the goal of educating students and mobilizing change to sustain a healthy and just planet through individual, campus, and large scale action. Over the past three years the Project Green Challenge initiative has impacted approximately 10,000 students directly and millions indirectly. The Organic Center will be working with Teens Turning Green to develop challenges that center around the benefits of organic food and farming, focusing on how organic promotes environmental sustainability, human health, and cultural wellbeing!
Media Responses from The Organic Center
Challenging the “Five myths about organic food” Op-Ed
The Organic Center posted a response to Peter Laufer’s “Five myths about organic food” published in the June 23 edition of The Washington Post. In it, we point out that Laufer’s op-ed ignores many important details about organic that support the very claims he is trying to refute. Even a cursory investigation of the research and regulations supporting organic reinforces the benefits of organic agriculture. For example, he fails to mention that organic farmers are required to use non-toxic, integrated pest, weed, and disease prevention plans prior to considering organically approved material application. He also misses the multitude of studies showing that raising animals without the use of antibiotics, as required by organic standards, can decrease consumer risk of exposure to antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Organic has many environmental benefits, including a reduced carbon footprint. Additionally, the rules governing organic certification are among the most heavily regulated in the United States. Visit The Center’s blog to read our full response.
Refuting the “Organic Isn’t Clean and It Isn’t Toxin-Free” Op-Ed
The Organic Center responded to a piece in Bloomberg View titled “’Organic’ Isn’t Clean and It Isn’t Toxin-Free.”  The article takes a narrow, incomplete, and largely uninformed view of the many benefits of organic farming especially as they relate to the environment and human health. For example, the article ignored research supporting the decrease in nitrogen pollution from organic farms, as well as research showing that organic production is beneficial to soil quality. Also, the article’s suggestion that there’s no distinguishable difference in nutritional value between organic and conventional food is negated by mounting evidence showing that some food categories and crops that are produced organically can be richer in nutrients, such as Vitamin C, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus. Read our full response to the article here.
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