A study into organic food has found that it is more nutritious than ordinary produce and may help to lengthen people's lives.
An EU-funded project that cost 12 million pounds (some 24 million U.S. dollars) showed that organic fruit and vegetables contain as much as 40 percent more antioxidants, which are believed to help fend off cancer and heart disease. They also contain more beneficial minerals such as iron and zinc, the Sunday Times reported.
Researchers grew fruit and vegetables and raised cattle on adjacent organic and non-organic sites on a 725-acre (about 290 hectare) farm attached to Newcastle University, and at other sites in Europe. They found that levels of antioxidants in milk from organic herds were up to 90 percent higher than those from conventional herds.
Organic tomatoes from Greece were also found to have significantly higher levels of antioxidants, including flavonoids, thought to reduce coronary heart disease, said the report.
Prof. Carlo Leifert, coordinator of the four-year project, said the differences were so marked that organic produce would help to increase the nutrient intake of those people not eating the recommended five portions a day of fruit and vegetables.
The Food Standards Agency confirmed over the weekend that it was reviewing the evidence before deciding whether to change its advice. British ministers and the agency said earlier that there were no significant differences between organic and ordinary produce.