Scientific studies suggest “organic” foods are neither healthier nor safer than genetically modified products or those grown conventionally.

InterNutrition, the Swiss Association for Research and Nutrition, used published scientific papers to compare alternative production methods.

It released an English-language summary of the report, originally in German, at the weekend.

“The specific combination of all useful approaches offers the greatest potential for sustainable agriculture and healthy foods,” it said.

“This means that the unilateral rejection of genetically modified plants would be unjustified and short-sighted.”

Summarising its most important findings, InterNutrition said some studies showed that organic foods may contain more fungal toxins than foods produced conventionally.

There were no significant differences between conventional and genetically modified feeds in terms of nutritional composition and effects on animals.

“Meat, milk and eggs from animals given GM feeds are just as harmless for human consumption as if they had come from animals fed on conventional feeds.”

The problem of cross-fertilisation by pollen (gene transfer) between genetically modified plants and related wild species as well as between transgenic and conventional crop varieties arose only with a few important species of cultivated plants.

Growing crops by various agricultural systems side by side had always been possible and would continue to be so in future, the report said.

“The field studies carried out so far with transgenic, pest resistant crops do not confirm the environmental risks predicted by critics.”

The study found that worldwide, roughly 10.5 million hectares were given over to organic farming. Around 44.3 million hectares, mostly in the United States, were under transgenic plants.

The global market for organic foods was estimated at just under $US20 billion ($49.4 billion) and growing fast, while the market for GM plants was around $US3 billion.

From the NZ Herald, October 3

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