A new European organic grocery store came to town. Why are the advantages of organic and the disadvantages of GMO foods misrepresented?

THere’s a new grocery store opening in my hometown of McLean, VA. It’s called Lidl (pronounced Lee-dul) and is headquartered in Neckarsulm, Germany. My sister told me she shops at Lidl and loves it so I’m looking forward to it, but I think it would be wise for her to look at the most up-to-date science in her advertising.

A sign outside the door says: “[Lidl’s] Approach will also make Lidl a strong competitor in the organic, non-GMO and gluten-free sectors.” That’s apparently a quote from Fox News, which also quotes one to learn This shows that Lidl’s low prices have forced other grocers to slash their prices by as much as 15%. That’s good, but I hope it doesn’t force other grocers to compete on their “quality”.

Photo credit: Lidl

Let’s start with organic. The whole idea may have come from Lady Eve Balfour, a British organic farmer who wrote the classic. The Living Floor in 1943. But hey man, as you know, it really was the hippies who got into organic in the 1960s.

Organic products are neither safer nor healthier and studies have shown it time and time again. Organic producers use many of the same pesticides as conventional foods, and it is the plant that produces the most pesticides (99.99%). A meta study As it put it, “The published literature lacks strong evidence that organic foods are significantly more nutritious than conventional foods.” Despite this fact, the Organic Trade Association says that parents buy organic foods for better health and “avoid toxic and persistent pesticides and fertilizers.” USDA reports that people pay 7% to 82% more for organic products than for conventional ones. Sometimes it’s worse. A $2.99 ​​2-pound bag of organic red onions was 205% more expensive than the conventionally grown variety.

Photo credit: Lidl

It’s also bad for the environment. A 2014 study found that organically growing all US produce would require 109 million more acres of land, or the area equivalent of all park and wildland areas in the lower 48 states. With a growing world population, halving yields from organic farming would be catastrophic.

The non-GMO issue is not only wrong from a safety standpoint, it’s also bad for the planet. As Jon Entine of the Genetic Literacy Project says:

Do GMOs have negative effects on humans? Thousands of studies have been conducted over the past 20 years to partially answer this question. The consensus is of course ‘no’ and it is supported by a large number of independent reviews including the National Academies of Sciences in the US and the European Commission.

As for the planet, here’s just a quote from Michael Stebbin:

In 2016 alone, growing GMO crops helped reduce CO2 emissions, the equivalent of removing 16.7 million cars for a full year. GMOs also reduce the amount of pesticides that need to be sprayed, while increasing the amount of crops available for consumption and sale. Over the past 20 years, GMOs have reduced the use of pesticides by 8.2% and helped increase crop yields by 22%.

Again, we will need better yields that GM crops can give us to feed a world population expected to reach 9.7 billion (a 23% increase).

Forecasts of world population growth. Photo credit: Max Roser

For those who are gluten intolerant or sensitive, It’s good that Lidl is helping.

Photo credit: Lidl

This is the science that speaks. Eighty-four percent of McLean residents have a bachelor’s degree or higher, and I’d like to think they’re reasonably comfortable with the science. Let’s encourage price competition, especially since after a 6% increase last year, there’s a chance that prices could rise by that same amount this year.

But let’s encourage Lidl to do a little more research to inform their advertising.

Richard A. Williams, PhD, is an economist and author. He is Chairman of the Board of the Center for Truth in Science and serves on the Advisory Board of the Institute for the Advancement of Food and Nutrition Sciences. He was senior social scientist at the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition for 27 years. Visit his website and keep following him LinkedIn

A version of this article was originally published at LinkedIn and has been reposted here with permission. You can find LinkedIn on Twitter @LinkedIn


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