Dallas Observer journalist Eric Nicholson has covered research carried out in the fruit fly lab of SMU biologist Johannes H. Bauer by Plano, Texas, high school student Ria Chhabra in its March 27, 2013, article “SMU Researchers Prove that Eating Organic Makes You Live Longer — If You’re a Fly.”
Bauer, an assistant professor in SMU’s Department of Biological Sciences, mentored Chhabra in her research to examine whether there would be health differences to fruit flies fed an organic diet or a nonorganic diet. Chhabra’s study found that flies fed an organic diet fared better on important health tests, particularly fertility and longevity.
There was a minor furor in the media last year when a study conducted by a researcher at Standford’s medical school concluded that organic fruits and vegetables are no healthier than their conventionally raised counterparts. This wasn’t quite as newsworthy as the headlines made it sound, since the study was looking mainly at vitamin content of produce, not at the chemicals that were or were not sprayed on it. Precious few people buy organic carrots expecting through-the-roof levels of beta carotene.
Then again, maybe they should. A new study by researchers at SMU, which is clearly more definitive than the Stanford one because it’s newer, suggests that eating organic food may cause you to live longer. If you’re a fruit fly.
They chose fruit flies essentially because they’re easier to keep on an all-organic diet, since they can’t sneak off and binge on Twinkies and they don’t object to consuming a single type of liquified produce from Whole Foods (either potatoes, raisins, bananas, or soybeans, depending on the fly) for their entire lives. They also live for about a month, making it easier to parse out the effect of diet on lifespan.
The Atlantic reported this morning on the study’s results:
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