What if we discussed organic the same way as biotech?

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A box of organic produce (CREDIT: Flickr/verseguru).

The following is an editorial summary.
Geneticist Kevin Folta shows how easy it is to concoct a reasonable-sounding—but utterly fallacious—argument that organic crops must cause autism and diabetes in the same way that anti-biotech campaigners construct their arguments that biotech crops must be behind autism and diabetes. An excerpt of his argument:

While people think of “organic” cultivation techniques as natural and safe, there are important points we might consider. Most of the plants used today have only been developed genetically in the last 100 years, and even “heirloom” varieties were bred relatively recently. There have been no long term studies, and plants certainly are known to produce a wide suite of toxic compounds.

Worse, organically cultivated plants are placed in highly artificial environments. Rather than growing in soil as it exists, soils are highly amended with composts and manures. High levels of nitrogen and carbon dramatically alter gene expression leading to patterns never observed in nature. Van Djik et al. (2012) found that there were dramatic differences in gene expression between conventional and organically-grown potatoes, with organic potatoes showing higher expression of stress-related genes. There have been no long-term studies to assess the effects of this un-natural gene expression.

Read the full post here: Organic Food Causes Autism and Diabetes

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