Dr. Dena Bravata, a senior research affiliate at Stanford University, released a study indicating organic food is no better than regular food. (See: "Are Organic Foods Safer or Healthier Than Conventional Alternatives?: A Systematic Review," Annals of Internal Medicine, Sept. 4, 2012; 157(5): pp. 348-366.)

While Bravata found slightly elevated nutrient levels in some organic foods - along with slightly lowered exposure in children to pesticides - the overall thesis of her study flies in the face of claims being made by organic activists that organic food is always much more nutritious, purer, and hence safer, than conventional and biotech food.

So, why the discrepancy? This is a question Dr. Bravata and her colleagues leave unanswered in their otherwise well-founded study. Fortunately, The Heartland Institute has the answer.

In the first of a series of articles by Heartland Policy Advisor Mischa Popoff and Science Director Jay Lehr on modern agriculture and organic farming, we learn the dirty little secret harbored by organic activists: that organic crops are not tested before they are certified. With this in mind it's really not surprising that the highly bureaucratic organic industry is finally getting its comeuppance in this Stanford study.

Mischa Popoff is a policy advisor for The Heartland Institute, a former organic farmer, USDA-accredited Organic Crop Inspector, and author of the book Is It Organic? The following statement may be quoted with attribution.

"Heartland supports the principles and philosophy of organic food production and is always quick to stress that honest organic farmers - of which there are many across America - support the concept of organic field testing because they have nothing to hide, and everything to gain.

"Sadly though, domestic organic farmers fill only a small and ever-shrinking minority share of the $30-billion-per-annum market for organic food in the United States. The rest is imported from countries with notoriously lax environmental standards, such as China, Mexico, and Brazil. And that food always, believe it or not, comes with the USDA's good name on the label. And it's all based on paperwork, without a single test to verify purity or nutritional value.

"No wonder Dr. Bravata's study reads like a bad report card your kids would rather you didn't see. We hate to mix metaphors at Heartland, but it would appear the organic cat is well on its way out of the bag."