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Landmark Study Underscores Wide-Ranging Benefits of Pesticide-Free Farming

daily alternative | alternative news - Landmark Study Underscores Wide-Ranging Benefits of Pesticide-Free Farming

A meta-analysis of 343 previously peer-reviewed studies from all over the world has found that organic crops contain more antioxidants and fewer pesticides than their non-organic counterparts, according to reporting in the Guardian.

The research, conducted by an international team of scientists led by UK professor of ecological agriculture Carlo Leifert, is published in the British Journal of Nutrition. It shows that the increased levels of antioxidants (between 18-69 percent) could have significant impact on human nutrition.

“If you buy, consistently, organic fruits and vegetables…you get one to even two extra servings of antioxidants from those organic foods compared to if you bought conventional brands,” said Charles Benbrook, a Washington State University researcher and the lone American co-author of the paper.

The frequency of occurrence of pesticide residues was found to be four times higher in conventionally grown fruits, vegetables, and cereals, which also contained significantly higher concentrations of the toxic metal cadmium. Cadmium has been linked to kidney damage and cancer.

“Most importantly, the concentrations of a range of antioxidants such as polyphenolics were found to be substantially higher in organic crops/crop-based foods,” the study found. “Many of these compounds have previously been linked to a reduced risk of chronic diseases, including [cardiovascular disease] and neurodegenerative diseases and certain cancers, in dietary intervention and epidemiological studies.”

The study’s findings run counter to those of the most recent comprehensive look at the same topic, which found, in 2012, “the published literature lacks strong evidence that organic foods are significantly more nutritious than conventional foods.” That research synthesized the results of 223 studies.

The head of the UK-based Soil Association said in a statement:

“We know that people choose organic food because they believe it is better for them, as well as for wildlife, animal welfare and the environment, and this research backs up what people think about organic food. In other countries there has long been much higher levels of support and acceptance of the benefits of organic food and farming: we hope these findings will bring the UK in line with the rest of Europe, when it comes to both attitudes to organic food and support for organic farming.”

Sales of organic food are on the rise in the UK, after a years-long slump.

 

daily alternative | alternative news – Landmark Study Underscores Wide-Ranging Benefits of Pesticide-Free Farming

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Health & Science

Google Now Has Access To Millions of Patients’ Medical Records

A controversial deal between tech giant Google and the National Health Service (NHS) will allow artificial intelligence units access to 1.6 million confidential medical records. Since 2014, Google has partnered with several scientists in an attempt to understand human health, but a new report reveals the data gathering goes far beyond what was originally anticipated.

According to documents obtained by the New Scientist, the data sharing agreement between Google-owned artificial intelligence company DeepMind and the Royal Free NHS Trust gives access to the sensitive healthcare data of millions of NHS patients. The chilling and wide-reaching deal allows DeepMind access to the medical records of the 1.6 million people passing annually through the three London hospitals owned by the Trust — Barnet, Chase Farm, and the Royal Free.

The Google-owned A.I. firm announced in February it was working with the NHS to build an app called Streams — intended to help hospitals monitor patients with kidney disease. However, the new information has revealed that the extent of the data being shared goes much further and includes logs of day-to-day hospital activity, records of the location and status of patients, and even logs of who visits them and when.

Results of pathology and radiology tests are also shared, as is information from critical care and accident and emergency departments. In addition, DeepMind’s access to the centralised records of all NHS hospital treatments in the U.K. means the tech company can access historical data from the last five years, all while receiving a continuous stream of new data.

At the same time, DeepMind is developing a platform called Patient Rescue, which uses hospital data streams to build tools to carry out analysis and support diagnostic decisions. The New Scientist explained how it works:

Comparing a new patient’s information with millions of other cases, Patient Rescue might be able to predict that they are in the early stages of a disease that has not yet become symptomatic, for example. Doctors could then run tests to see if the prediction is correct.

While the Royal Free has not yet responded to the question of what — if any — opt-out mechanisms are available to patients, the New Scientist suggests this is unlikely to be a straightforward process. Despite the agreement stating Google cannot use the data in any other part of the company’s business, many will be seriously wary of the access the online tech giant now has to the confidential data of millions of people.

As the New Scientist wrote:

Data mining is the name of the game in the burgeoning field of machine learning and artificial intelligence, and there’s no company in the world better at that than Google.

 

daily alternative | alternative news – Google Now Has Access To Millions of Patients’ Medical Records

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