While people think of "organic" cultivation techniques as natural and safe, there are important points we might consider. Most of the plants used today have only been developed genetically in the last 100 years, and even "heirloom" varieties were bred relatively recently. There have been no long term studies, and plants certainly are known to produce a wide suite of toxic compounds.
Worse, organically cultivated plants are placed in highly artificial environments. Rather than growing in soil as it exists, soils are highly amended with composts and manures. High levels of nitrogen and carbon dramatically alter gene expression leading to patterns never observed in nature. Van Djik et al. (2012) found that there were dramatic differences in gene expression between conventional and organically-grown potatoes, with organic potatoes showing higher expression of stress-related genes. There have been no long-term studies to assess the effects of this un-natural gene expression.
It is clear that this causes human diseases. The first graph below shows organic food sales. The second graph shows increasing numbers of autistic children and the bottom graph shows diabetes. Those results are pretty conclusive.
The graph on the left shows organic food sales. The graph on the right shows autism incidence. The graph below shows increases in diabetes. Clearly a connection.
Do these data support a hypothesis that organic food causes autism or diabetes? Not at all. The paragraphs above do illustrate how easy it is to write something completely unfounded that sounds legitimate. In these cases the data are real but they implied associations are not, or at least there is no evidence for them.
But if you read comments sections of blogs and articles there is a massive tendency to draw a link between GMO food, cancer, diabetes, autism, etc based on the same type of correlations.
Even Robyn O'Brien, a sharp author and communicator, fails to see the difference between causation and correlation in her TEDx talk. She passionately develops a relationship between GMO crops and allergies, asthma, obesity and other human ills-- that absolutely does not exist. It is a little dishonest.
Bookmark this page. Next time you see someone stating that transgenic crops are dangerous because of disease incidence since they were introduced, remind them that many other dynamics are also at play. Also remind them that there is no legitimate causal relationship between biotechnology and human disease or disorders.
The Identification and Interpretation of Differences in the Transcriptomes of Organically and Conventionally Grown Potato Tubers
Jeroen P. van Dijk, Katarina Cankar, Peter J. M. Hendriksen, Henriek G. Beenen, Ming Zhu, Stanley Scheffer, Louise V. T. Shepherd, Derek Stewart, Howard V. Davies, Carlo Leifert, Steve J. Wilkockson, Kristina Gruden, and Esther J. Kok
Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 2012 60 (9), 2090-2101