Organic Research

Global sales of all organic foods was recently reported as having reached 97 billion Euros in 2018 1  For example, just in the USA the sales of organic foods, of all types, reached more than 40 billion Euros in the same year.  The organic fresh produce market is therefore the fastest growing such markets in world agriculture 2 .

As pointed out by Smith-Spangler and colleagues, 3  although there is some variation throughout the world, in general organic foods are usually grown without artificial or synthetic pesticides or fertilizers.  Also, the routine administration of antibiotics and/or growth stimulating hormones are not used.  In addition, regulations governing the production of organic foods dictate that they are processed without recourse to irradiation or chemical food additives and are not grown from genetically modified organisms.

The International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements states that “the Principles of Health, Ecology, Fairness, and Care are the roots from which organic agriculture grows and develops.  They express the contribution that organic agriculture can make to the world, and a vision to improve all agriculture in a global context.” 4 

Clearly the production and consumption of organic foods are major economic and nutritional considerations for many industries, organisations and consumers.

Numerous reasons are cited in the contemporary literature to account for this burgeoning consumption of organic food, including the perceived potential harmful effect of what is usually termed chemically grown food, on both the environment and human health5-8 .  Some of this reasoning is based on the reported community and consumer beliefs that because of the regulations and practices outlined above, organic foods are more environmentally friendly (9 and healthier 10 than chemically grown foods.

To expand on one particular aspect of the above reasoning, it has been calculated that up to 2.5 million tonnes of active pesticide ingredients are used each year, mainly in agriculture 11. Their residues often take a significant period of time to degrade in the environment thus posing a potential threat to health 12.

However, it has been reported that consumption of organic products greatly reduces the amounts of pesticide residues in the body 13.  In this study Curl and co-workers measured urinary dialkylphosphate metabolites (DAPs) in nearly 4500 subjects. DAPs are common by-products of the metabolism of most organophosphate pesticides and are often used as a suitable biomarker for such pesticides.  In this large cohort DAP concentrations were significantly lower in groups reporting more frequent consumption of organic produce (p < 0.02).

A key finding in the literature is that there have been many reports of relationships between health consciousness and positive attitudes towards organic foods, as well as a willingness to purchase such foods and the frequency of purchases 14-17.  Earlier in 2021 it has been reported that in the last decade 68 countries have totally implemented regulations around the concept of organic agriculture and hence organic food production.  A further 17 countries are in the process of implementing appropriate regulations and finally another 18 countries have regulations in a draft form 18.


  1. Willer, H., Schlatter, B., Travnicek, J., Kemper, L., and Lernoud, J. (2020). The world of organic agriculture. In W. Helga, S. Bernhard, J. Travnícek, L. Kemper, & J. Lernoud (Eds.), The world of organic agriculture. Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL) and IFOAM – Organics International. statistik/p/1663-organic-world-2015.html.
  2. Rahman S. Mele M.A. Lee, Y.-T.; Islam, M.Z. Consumer Preference, Quality, and Safety of Organic and Conventional Fresh Fruits, Vegetables, and Cereals. Foods 2021, 10, 105. 10.3390/foods10010105
  3. Smith-Spangler C, Brandeau M, Hunter GE, Bavinger C, Pearson M, Escbach PJ, Sundaram V, Liu H, Scirmer P, Stave C, Olkin I, Bravata DM.Are Organic Foods Safer or Healthier Than Conventional Alternatives? A Systematic Review.
  4. Accessed 1st Feb 2021.
  5. Kushwah, S. Dhir A. Sagar M. Ethical consumption intentions and choice behaviour towards organic food. Moderation role of buying and environmental concerns. Journal of Cleaner Production. 2019. 236, Article 117519. 10.1016/j.jclepro.2019.06.350
  6. Shin J. Mattila A. S. When organic food choices shape subsequent food choices: The interplay of gender and health consciousness. International Journal of Hospitality Management, 2019. 76. 94–101.
  7. Tandon, A., Dhir, A., Kaur, P., Kushwah, S. Salo, J. Behavioural reasoning perspectives on organic food purchase. Appetite 2020a 154.
  8. Tandon, A., Dhir, A., Kaur, P., Kushwah, S. Salo, J. Why do people buy organic food? The moderating role of environmental concerns and trust, Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services. 2020b.57.
  9. Teng, C. C., & Lu, C. H. Organic food consumption in Taiwan: Motives, involvement, and purchase intention under the moderating role of uncertainty. Appetite 2016.105, 95–105.
  10. Ditlevsen, K., Sandøe, P., & Lassen, J. Healthy food is nutritious, but organic food is healthy because it is pure: The negotiation of healthy food choices by Danish consumers of organic food. Food Quality and Preference. 2019. 71(May 2018), 46–53.
  11. Fenner, K., Canonica, S., Wackett, L.P., Elsner, M., Evaluating pesticide degradation in the environment: blind spots and emerging opportunities. Science. 2013. 431, 752–758.
  12. Köhler, H.-R., Triebskorn, R. Wildlife ecotoxicology of pesticides: can we track effects to the population level and beyond? Science. 2013341, 759–765.
  13. Curl, C.L., Beresford, S.A.A., Fenske, R.A., Fitzpatrick, A.L., Lu, C., Nettleton, J.A., Kaufman, J.D. Estimating pesticide exposure from dietary intake and organic food choices: the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). Environ. Health Perspect. 2015. 123, 475–483.
  14. Nguyen, H. V., Nguyen, N., Nguyen, B. K., Lobo, A., & Vu, P. A. Organic food purchases in an emerging market: The influence of consumers’ personal factors and green marketing practices of food stores. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 2019. 16(6).
  15. Konuk, F. A. Antecedents of pregnant women’s purchase intentions and willingness to pay a premium for organic food. British Food Journal. 2018.120(7), 1561–1573.
  16. Anisimova, T., Mavondo, F., & Weiss J. Controlled and uncontrolled communication stimuli and organic food purchases: The mediating role of perceived communication clarity, perceived health benefits, and trust. Journal of Marketing Communications, 2019. 25(2), 180–203. 13527266.2017.1387869
  17. Molinillo, S., Vidal-Branco, M., & Japutra, A. Understanding the drivers of organic foods purchasing of millennials: Evidence from Brazil and Spain. Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, 2020. 52, Article 101926. jretconser.2019.101926
  18. Tandon A, Jabeen F, Talwar S, Sakashita M. Facilitators and inhibitors of origin food buying behaviour. Food Quality and Preference. 2021. 88. 104077.