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The impact of organic agriculture on food quality

Rembiałkowska, Ewa (2004) The impact of organic agriculture on food quality. Agricultura (3), pp. 19-26.

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During last decades the consumer trust in food quality has drastically decreased, mainly because of the growing ecological awareness and several food scandals like Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), dioxins and bacterial contamination. It has been found that intensive conventional agriculture could introduce contaminants into food chain, first of all nitrates and nitrosamines, residues of pesticides, antibiotics and growth hormones. Consumers started to look for safer and better controlled foods, produced in more environmentally friendly, authentic and local system.
Organically produced foods are widely believed to satisfy the above demands, providing better environment and higher nutritive values. Several research studies conducted in many European countries have partly confirmed this opinion.
Organic crops contain fewer nitrates and nitrites and fewer residues of pesticides than conventional ones. They contain as a rule more dry matter, more vitamin C and B-group vitamins, more phenolic compounds, more exogenous indispensable amino acids and more total sugars; however the level of β carotene is often higher in conventional plant products. Organic crops contain statistically more iron, magnesium and phosphorus, and they have usually better sensory quality. Vegetables, potatoes and fruits from organic production show better storage quality during winter keeping. Farm animals from organic herds show less metabolic diseases like ketosis, lipidosis, arthritis, mastitis and milk fever. Small experimental mammals (rats, rabbits) fed organically grown feed show better health and fertility parameters.
However, there are also some negatives: plants cultivated in organic system have as a rule 20 % lower yield than conventionally produced crops. Milk and meat yield is also lower in organic animal production, partly because parasitic afflictions are more frequent.
Several important problems need to be investigated and settled in coming years: environmental contamination of the organic crops (heavy metals, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dioxins, and aromatic hydrocarbons), bacterial and fungi contamination (Salmonella, Campylobacter, mycotoxins). Last but not least, the impact of the organic food consumption on human health and well being still remains unknown and needs explanation.

EPrint Type:Journal paper
Keywords:food quality, organic plant products, organic animal products, animal health
Subjects: Food systems > Food security, food quality and human health
Research affiliation:Other countries
Deposited By: Rembialkowska, ass.prof. Ewa
ID Code:7595
Deposited On:07 Mar 2006
Last Modified:12 Apr 2010 07:32
Document Language:English
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted

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