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New Study Forces Media To Change Tune on Organic Food

Report claims organic food isn’t nutritionally better than food without ‘organic’ label.

Despite the media’s best efforts to hype organic food and convince the public that it was better for people, some remained skeptical.

The media spent years promoting organic foods from The Washington Post’s absurd claim in July 2006 that organic food is good because it forces people to “spend more, eat less” to NBC’s 2009 “Green Week” that encouraged eating organic food. There were many other examples in between including “Glamour” magazine's listing eating organic as one of many things a woman could do to help counteract global warming in 2007. Then in 2008, ABC’s “Nightline” promoted a non-expert who demonized any food that wasn’t organic, labeling organic as “food” and everything else as “food-like substances.”

But a new study officially released on Sept. 3 by the Annals of Internal Medicine concluded that “strong evidence” was lacking “that organic foods are significantly more nutritious than conventional foods.” Just two years ago Dr. Melina Jampolis encouraged CNN.com readers to “try to emphasize organic fruits and vegetables” as a New Year’s resolution, in an “expert Q&A” published Jan. 1, 2010. But the new study forced CNN, and other news outlets, to deliver a very different message.

On Sept. 3, William Hudson wrote an article for CNN.com about the study’s findings saying: “Published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine, it finds that organic produce has no more vitamins than conventionally grown produce.” Of course, Hudson still found people willing to pay extra for organic foods to reduce pesticide exposure. USA Today online reported that the study argues against people’s motives for buying organic produce.

A day earlier, CNN’s senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen also focused on the new study saying, “There haven’t been good studies out there that say … if you had fewer pesticides in your body, you’re going to live longer or you’re not going to get cancer or you’re not going to get heart disease or whatever. There hasn’t been a solid scientific link between consuming fewer pesticides and living longer or avoiding certain diseases.”

Cohen admitted that price is the biggest problem with going organic. “The money is a part of the decision. What’s interesting is when we went out and bought this produce this morning, this group of organic produce … cost about $5 more than the non organic. That’s a big price difference. This isn’t a lot of food, so that’s a serious price difference.”

USA Today’s Elizabeth Weise wrote that “A 2010 Nielsen study found that 76% bought them believing they are healthier, 53% because they allowed them to avoid pesticides and other toxins, 51% because they are more nutritious and 49% because organic farming is better for the environment,” on Sept. 3. NBC also mentioned this new study on “Today” Sept. 4 and published a Reuters article about it online.