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World-leading researcher to explain nutritional properties of organic food at seminar


Sharlene King, media officer
13 April 2018

One of the world’s leaders in organic farming research will share his insights into the nutritional benefits of organic fruit and vegetables – including results of an international study showing significantly higher levels of antioxidants – at a breakfast research seminar at Southern Cross University on Monday April 16 at 8am.

Professor Carlo Leifert, Director of the University’s Centre for Organics Research, has extensive research experience around organic farming and food production systems, and sustainable farming and food security. He has also worked with supermarket giant Tesco in the UK.

For the seminar, Professor Leifert will explain the findings of a systematic review and meta-analysis of 345 published scientific studies comparing the nutritional composition of organic and conventional foods.

“Results showed that organic crops have significantly higher levels of antioxidants. Oxidative damage, prevented by antioxidants, is believed to have an important biological role in the development of chronic diseases like cancer, diabetes, heart disease, stroke and Alzheimer's disease and many more,” said Professor Leifert.

Organic foods were also found to contain significantly lower concentration levels of nitrite and the toxic ‘heavy metal’ cadmium, and to be four times less likely to contain pesticide residues.

Professor Leifert coordinated the study’s international team of scientists from institutions in 10 European countries and the US.

“It seems as if every major input – from modern short straw cereal varieties to mineral N, super phosphate and pesticides – that we have introduced during the so-called 'green revolution' over the last 40 years has a negative impact on the nutritional quality of food,” Professor Leifert said.

“This means that we need to eat more in terms of calorie intake than 40 years ago to get the same intake on certain minerals and antioxidants, and in the process take in more toxic compounds. This may at least partially explain the results from a large French epidemiological study, which reported a 40 per cent lower incidence of obesity in organic compared to conventional food consumers.”

Professor Leifert’s presentation will also summarise the results of field experiments carried out as part of the EU-sponsored Quality Low Input Food and NUE (Nutrient Use Efficient) Crops projects.

These experiments showed that modern wheat varieties contain lower levels of a range of mineral nutrients than traditional varieties. They also showed that lower antioxidant concentrations, higher cadmium levels and higher frequency of pesticide residues in conventional crops are linked to mineral nitrogen fertiliser, higher P-fertiliser and extensive pesticide use in conventional farming practice respectively. 



‘Nutritional properties of organic fruit and vegetables’ Research Seminar

8am-9am, Monday April 16

Whitebrook Theatre, Y Block

Southern Cross University Lismore campus

Light breakfast served.

Free. Book tickets via Eventbrite

Centre for Organics Research

The Centre for Organics Research is a joint initiative between Southern Cross University and NSW Department of Primary Industries which conducts research in partnership with community and industry stakeholders.