Health Effects of Organic and Conventional Food – A Review

Abstract: Feeding experiments comparing organically and conventionally produced food are performed to assess the overall impact on the animals' health as a model for the effects experienced by the human consumers. These experiments are based on systems research and characterized by their focus on production methods, whole food testing and procedures in accordance with the terms of organic farming. A short review of such experiments shows that the majority of these tests revealed effects of the organically produced feed on health parameters such as reproductive performance and immune responses. Systems research is not just about simple cause-effect chains, but rather about the pluralism of interactions in biological networks; therefore, the interpretation of the outcome of whole food experiments is difficult. Furthermore, the test diets of organic and conventional origin can be constituted in different ways, compensating for or maintaining existing differences in nutrient and energy contents. The science-based results suggest positive influences from organic feeds, but there is still a need for confirmation in animals and, finally, in humans. For this purpose animal feeding trials with feed from different production systems should be conducted, with the aims to define health indicators and to establish biomarkers as a basis for future dietary intervention studies in humans. ©  2009 Society of Chemical Industry

Reference: Velimirov, A., et. al. (2010). Feeding trials in organic food quality and health research. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture 90(2): 175-182. Available online at: