SLU news

Crowded seminar on organic food, health and quality

Published: 03 June 2014

More than hundred people listened when Axel Mie presented his knowledge synthesis on organic food, health and quality on May 27. In addition to those who were in Uppsala, there were spectators on video link from Skara, Alnarp and via webcast.

Publik på lunchseminarie 27 april-2014
The audience followed the seminar with great interest. Photo: Pelle Fredriksson

In the talk, Axel went through the concept of health and questioned the focus on individual "beneficial" substances in food. He cited, among other things, some nutrition scientists who believe that “Food, not nutrients, is the fundamental unit in nutrition“.

No clear answers in comparative studies of plant foods
The research that has compared the content of organic and conventional foods have mainly compared specific nutrients. The results from these studies are usually not clear about whether organic or conventional food is better, except for the fatty acid composition in animal products.

Organic milk has better fat composition
Studies show that organic dairy products have a higher proportion of omega-3 fatty acids. Axel discussed that it might be interesting to investigate whether one can increase children's intake of omega-3 by switching to organic dairy products.

Axel completed the lecture with the following list of conclusions:

  • Plants: Small or no differences in nutrient content between organic and conventional.
  • Animal products: Clear differences in fat composition to advantage for organic, potentially interesting for e.g. children’s omega-3 intake.
  • Pesticides: Very extensive testing before approval, but with gaps. Suspicions about the negative effects of regular exposure persist.
  • Studies of the health effects of organic vs. conventional food: Few studies. Interesting ideas, but no proof.


More seminar videos at EPOK's Web-TV (in Swedish).