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New Research Claims to Quantify Benefits of Organic Produce

The Organic Center in Boulder, Colo. said yesterday it has released what it calls a "historic report" that concludes converting the nation's eight million acres of produce farms to organic would reduce pesticide dietary risks by about 97 percent.

The Organic Center claims to be providing the first-ever quantitative estimate of the degree to which pesticide risks from food can be eliminated through adoption of organic farming methods, in "Simplifying the Pesticide Risk Equation: The Organic Option," a new State of Science Review by Dr. Charles Benbrook, the Organic Center's chief scientist.

Less than three percent of the nation's cropland produces fruits and vegetables, according to the research. Yet, The Organic Center said, these crops account for most of the pesticide risks from dietary exposure in domestically produced foods. The 97 percent risk reduction can only be achieved if converting domestic cropland of organic is coupled with consumers choosing only imported produce that is certified organic, researchers said.

The estimates are based on up-to-date pesticide residue data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Environmental Protection Agency's current methods for estimating pesticide dietary risks, said the Organic Center.

Other findings in the report include:
-- An analysis of the significantly greater pesticide risks linked to consumption of imported conventionally grown fruits and vegetables, as compared to domestically-grown produce.
-- Rankings of dietary risk levels in select conventionally grown fruits and vegetables, arranged to help guide consumers seeking to minimize pesticide risks.
-- Suggestions on how to meet dietary guidelines for fruit and vegetable intake in the winter, while also reducing pesticide exposures.
-- An overview of pesticide residues found in milk.

The Organic Center said it is offering a free download of its report at

Founded in 2002, The Organic Center is a non-profit devoted to presenting and providing peer-reviewed scientific evidence on how organic products benefit human health and environmental quality.
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