Kuva: Ia Ahonen

Health effects of organic food in discussions – more research is needed

Debates on health effects of organic food arise from time to time. There is not yet enough scientific clinical studies to give fair objective statemens, said professor Raija Tahvonen in the press conference of international NJF-conference in Mikkeli on 19th of June, 2017.

Recent studies show, that organic food products contain certain nutrients and some phenolic compounds slightly more than conventional products. There are also fewer pesticide residues and less food additives in organic food in consequence of regulations in organic production. For example, only 48 food additives are allowed to be used in organic production, while the correspondence amount in conventional production is over 300.

  • However, the use of food additives is regulated also in conventional production. The task of comparing these two production methods is not easy, Tahvonen points out. Besides traditional research on contents, more research on health effects of diets is needed. The current scientific evidence is insufficient to conclude whether there is difference between health effects of organic or conventional foods. According to her literature study, several research groups have aroused areas to be investigated. For example, pesticide mixtures can interact in various manners than separately. In addition, some food additives affect both animal and human microbiota either indirectly or directly, which influences human health. 

Health effects of food production systems is probably more and more important field of research. The soil management will have influence on the products, for example grain and vegetables – including berries and fruits – and therefore on human health, too.

  • We must study the health effects of different diets more, especially in multigenerational research projects, Tahvonen underlines.

The press conference was held for the international organic conference held in Mikkeli 19th– 21st of June, 2017. The conference gathered over 90 researchers from 13 countries to discuss the current research topics in organic farming sector.