The impact of sustainable agriculture reaches beyond the land we cultivate. A new report from the European Parliament examines the intersection between organic and public health. The report reviews hundreds of studies and analyses on both organic food and agriculture, concluding that organic food systems offer clear health benefits.
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Their findings are clearest when it comes to minimizing exposure to pesticides and to antibiotics used in livestock production. But the report also found that organically grown produce tends to contain less of the toxic metal cadmium—which the authors note is “highly relevant to human health.”
Most striking in its findings is the evidence suggesting organic food can help protect children from the brain-altering effects of some pesticides. And while there is evidence of greater nutrient content in some organic food—particularly milk and meat—as health benefits, these differences appear to be less significant than organic food’s lack of hazardous chemicals.
The report’s authors are clear about the fact that both individuals and public health can benefit from organics. But accessibility is still a big question. And when it comes to pesticide exposure, the scientists say more must be done to prevent ongoing harmful exposures.