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Organic Food and Health: A new project to study the effects of plant cultivation methods (organic and conventional) on nutritional value, health and reproduction in an animal experiment

Brandt, Kirsten; Nygaard Larsen, Hanne; Andersen, Jens-Otto; Mølgaard, Jens-Peter; Lauridsen, Charlotte; Jørgensen, Henry; Gundersen, Vagn; Larsen, Erik; Badsberg, Jens Henrik and Thorup-Kristensen, Kristian (2001) Organic Food and Health: A new project to study the effects of plant cultivation methods (organic and conventional) on nutritional value, health and reproduction in an animal experiment. Poster at: FOOD and NUTRITION for BETTER HEALTH" (HEALFO Conference), Lanciano, Italy, 13-15 June 2001.

[thumbnail of DARCOFposterhealthlille.pdf] PDF - English


Many consumers believe that food from plants grown under certain conditions, such as organic agriculture, will benefit health more than conventional food. This cannot be determined simply by analysing the material, since our understanding of the connections between food components and health is still to imprecise for such a purpose. Rather than waiting until basic research provides the knowledge needed for this approach, in the spring of 2001 we have initiated a project to study physiological effects of plant quality directly, in an animal experiment.
The following cultivation treatments are used to grow plants that are typical ingredients for a human diet (potato, mature peas, kale, spring wheat, oilseed rape, carrots and apples):
1. A model of a distinct conventional cultivation system, with high input of mineral nutrients and use of as much pesticides as is allowed.
2. A model of a distinct organic cultivation system, with low input of organic plant nutrients and no use of pesticides.
3. A combination of model 1 and 2, with low input of nutrients and use of pesticides.
The materials from each cultivation treatment will be thoroughly characterised, by measuring contents of nutrients (protein, minerals, energy content, vitamins), the biological value of major protein sources of feed plants will be assessed, selected secondary metabolites including known anti-nutrients will be measured and other quality indicators will be assessed including biocrystallization. Based on these results, 3 feed mixtures will be prepared, either based on defined weight percentages of each material from each treatment, or, if large variation in biological value is found, one or two feed mixtures can be adjusted to provide the same availability of protein and energy as the reference treatment (model 1). Potato, mature peas and kale will be cooked and freeze-dried, wheat is ground and baked to biscuits, oil is produced from the rapeseed, and raw carrots and apples are shredded and freeze dried, before feed pellets with the desired composition are prepared from the material.
Three groups of rats are each provided one of the dietary treatments during 2.5 generation, and reproductive characteristics and performance are recorded. Subgroups of the last generation are selected for an intensive study in which uptake and excretion of energy and protein and selected micronutrients are determined. Respiration trials are performed to assess the energy metabolism, and simultaneous measurements of the activity levels of the rats are performed. In addition, blood and tissue samples of the rats will be obtained to study the effect of the dietary treatments on the immunological and antioxidant status of the rats. Data from the experiments are assembled and analysed using relevant statistical models, and the relationship to the nutritional characteristics of the plant material is described.
Funding for the core project for a 4-year period is secured from the Danish Research Centre for Organic Farming (DARCOF). However, the intention is to provide a platform for international collaboration, since the well-documented material of plants and animals can provide multiple opportunities for associated projects. To investigate other aspects of plant composition or health than what is foreseen in the present project, or to follow up on it with additional experiments.

EPrint Type:Conference paper, poster, etc.
Type of presentation:Poster
Subjects: Food systems > Food security, food quality and human health
Crop husbandry > Crop health, quality, protection
Knowledge management > Research methodology and philosophy > Specific methods
Research affiliation: Denmark > KU - University of Copenhagen > KU-LIFE - Faculty of Life Sciences
Denmark > DARCOF II (2000-2005) > IV.1 (EXUNIT) Experimental units for research in organic farming systems
Denmark > DARCOF II (2000-2005) > III.4 (OrganicHealth) Organic food and health - a multigeneration animal experiment
Denmark > AU - Aarhus University > AU, DJF - Faculty of Agricultural Sciences
Denmark > Other organizations
Related Links:http://www.cmns.mnegri.it/en/congres/healfo/
Deposited By: Brandt, Dr. Kirsten
ID Code:1702
Deposited On:27 Oct 2003
Last Modified:12 Apr 2010 07:28
Document Language:English
Refereed:Not peer-reviewed

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