Is organic food always better? Wild birds don't seem to think so. Given a choice between conventionally-grown and organically-grown wheat, both wild birds and lab-dwelling canaries opted for the conventionally-grown grain about 60% of the time, according to research published today in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture. The 3-year study is the first to show animal preference for conventional over organic food; earlier studies with rats and hens have all indicated a taste for the organic option. The researchers attribute the birds' choice to the higher protein content of the conventionally-grown wheat—a by-product of the nitrogen-rich chemical fertilizers conventional growers apply to their crops. The results cast doubt on claims that all organic food is nutritionally superior, the authors say, but they don't take into account the long-term health or environmental impacts of conventional farming's chemical fertilizer and pesticide use.
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