1 Tahrcountry Musings: Mystery - Garden Birds Prefer Non-Organic Food to Organic, New Study Reveals

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Mystery - Garden Birds Prefer Non-Organic Food to Organic, New Study Reveals

The latest issue of Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture has an interesting paper on the feeding habits of birds. I read it with great fascination. The new research has found that when presented with an opportunity between organic and non-organic foods garden birds such as robins and house sparrows invariably plumbed for non organic food.
When offered both varieties of wheat seed, the birds were able to discern between the two and ate up to 20 per cent more of non-organic variety. When the grain in the feeders was switched around, the birds soon were able to spot the difference and again settled for of non-organic variety.
Analysis of the wheat found that the non organic seeds have an average 10 per cent higher protein content than the organic seeds and this is the most likely explanation for the food preference of birds.
The researchers say the study does not take into account the long-term health implications of using chemical fertilizers and pesticides, but it does raise questions about the nutritional benefits of organic food.
The garden bird work was confirmed by laboratory studies on canaries.
The lead researcher for the three-year study was Dr Ailsa McKenzie, based at Newcastle University's School of Biology.
Soil Association of UK has come up with a strong rejoinder. They say: "The UK Government’s own advisors found that bird life is up to 50% greater on organic farms showing that most birds do choose organic. Animals like chimpanzees and even rats have been shown to prefer organic food. This study has absolutely no bearing on whether organic food is better for human health or not."

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