Tests Show Lab Rats Thrive on Organic Food
From http://news.scotsman.com latest.cfm
Fri 18 Feb 2005
The Scotsman (UK)
Rats 'Healthier' on Organic Diet
By Tom Wilkinson, PA
A team of scientists found rats fed on organic food were slimmer, slept better and had stronger immune systems than others fed on
conventionally-grown produce, it emerged today.
The controversial findings are likely to re-start the debate over whether organic food is more beneficial for humans, or if as some have said, it is an expensive alternative which has no effect on health.
In the past scientists have found it difficult to prove whether an organic diet was beneficial, as health is influenced by many factors.
A team from the Danish Institute of Agricultural Sciences, aided by a Newcastle University scientist, experimented on 36 rats, feeding one group organic food, another conventionally grown food, with high levels of fertiliser and some pesticide, and a third group were minimally-fertilised food.
All the rats were given potatoes, carrots, peas, green kale, apples and rapeseed oil and the level of nutrients was monitored to make sure they were the same for each group.
They were also given the same vitamin supplements and all were reported to have thrived during the experiment.
Pesticide residue was also measured and found to be below detection levels in all groups.
Yet the scientists found that the rats fed organically-produced food were measurably healthier, in that they slept better, had stronger immune systems and were less obese.
Dr Kirsten Brandt, of Newcastle University's School of Agriculture, who last week published findings that carrots contained a cancer-fighting
chemical, helped her Danish colleagues devise the experiment.
She was careful not to overstate the findings, explaining that the team could not explain why the organic food, with the same nutrients as the conventionally-farmed produce, seemed to be healthier for rats.
She said: "The difference was so big that it is very unlikely to be random." But we don't know if they slept better because they were less stressed and had a better immune system.
These things may be related or independent.
"We gave the food to the rats and then we measured what they were doing. If we want to understand how and why, we need another study."
She added: "We can say the reason why the rats have different health was clearly due to the fact that there was a different growing method, and this was enough for this result."