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Funding Sources of Anti-Organics Stanford Study Questioned in New Report

- Common Dreams staff

A study released last week by Stanford scientists, which claims organic foods are no more healthy than non-organic foods, was funded by corporate agriculture and biotechnology giants, according to a new report by the Cornucopia Institute.

Organic produce (Photo: Flickr/ penelope waits / Creative Commons License) "We were not one bit surprised to find that the agribusiness giant Cargill, the world’s largest agricultural business enterprise, and foundations like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which have deep ties to agricultural chemical and biotechnology corporations like Monsanto, have donated millions to Stanford’s Freeman Spogli Institute, where some of the scientists who published this study are affiliates and fellows," said Charlotte Vallaeys, Food and Farm Policy Director at the Cornucopia Institute, a non-profit organic farm policy organization.

On September 3, Stanford’s Freeman Spogli Institute, released the research, garnishing widespread press coverage from corporate news outlets such as the New York Times, Associated Press, and CBS News. As the New York Times reported, the study "concluded that fruits and vegetables labeled organic were, on average, no more nutritious than their conventional counterparts, which tend to be far less expensive."

However, as Cornucopia points out, a deeper examination of the actual research reveals "glaring errors, both in understanding the important and complex differences between organic and conventional foods and in the researchers’ flawed choice of research methods."

Environmental health advocates such as the Environmental Working Group and Mark Kastel of Cornucopia have been quick to point out the wealth of research ignored in the Stanford report, which reveals the obvious risks involved in producing and consuming non-organics; however, Stanford's spin was quickly and widely accepted by journalists without fact-checking and was rushed to the pages of major news outlets.

Now Cornucopia has revealed that the Stanford researchers have direct ties to big ag players, which stand to profit from an organics smear campaign.

"Make no mistake, the Stanford organics study is a fraud," says Mike Adams of Naturalnews.com and Anthony Gucciardi of Naturalsociety.org. "To say that conventional foods are safe is like saying that cigarettes are safe. Both can be propagandized with fraudulent science funded by corporate donations to universities, and we’re seeing the same scientist who helped Big Tobacco now helping Big Biotech in their attempt to defraud the public."

"There was just no way that truly independent scientists with the expertise required to adequately answer such an important question would ignore the vast and growing body of scientific literature pointing to serious health risks from eating foods produced with synthetic chemicals," says Vallaeys.

Additionally, the study did, in fact, concede a few positive attributes to organic foods, including the fact that organic produce has fewer pesticide residues; however, such facts were buried in the presentation of the research by the Stanford researchers and public relations staff and were not widely reported by major news sources.

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