Journalist Ariel Schwartz on Fast Company’s Co.Exist web site has covered research carried out in the fruit fly lab of SMU biologist Johannes H. Bauer.
The article, which covers the research of Bauer and Plano, Texas, high school student Ria Chhabra, appeared April 1, “Organic Food Will Make You Live Longer And Be More Fertile (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.
A new study found that the bugs that ate an organic diet were more healthy and lived longer. So, ask yourself, how much like a fly are you?
Organic food can help you live longer–if you happen to be a fruit fly. A study from researchers at Southern Methodist University found that fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster) fed on a diet of organic produce experienced increased fertility and longevity. This could have implications for humans, but don’t start using the study as a pro-organic talking point just yet.
The researchers involved in the study (including high school student Ria Chhabra, who was inspired to initiate the study after speaking with her parents about the benefits of organic food) nourished growing fruit flies with produce–bananas, potatoes, raisins, and soy beans bought from a grocery store. Some of the flies received conventional produce, and others ate organic versions.
Ultimately, the researchers found that none of the flies lived that long–as they note in the study, “Drosophila cultured on produce extract diets were generally shorter lived than flies raised on regular lab food, presumably due to limited nutritional balance in diets prepared from a single produce source.” Within the confines of the study, however, the flies who ate on the organic foods fared best (though the flies that gorged themselves on just organic raisins fared worse so, you know, be careful). The flies fed with organic produce also had a longer egg production peak than their counterparts.
At this point, you might be thinking that the study is a major rebuke to another study from 2012 that found organic food to be no more healthy than conventionally grown food. But that study actually looked at humans, not fruit flies. Another problem: The more recent study provides no indications as to why the fruit flies lived longer and more fertile lives. So take any pro-organic conclusions with a grain of natural sea salt.
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