NEWCASTLE, England, May 25 (UPI) — British scientists say they’ve determined wild garden birds shun organically grown seeds in favor of conventional seeds.
A three-year study by Newcastle University researchers found wild birds prefer more protein-rich, conventional foods that will help them to survive the winter.
Ailsa McKenzie, who led the study, said the findings are likely to be of “considerable interest to the general public in the debate over the relative merits of consuming organic food.”
“Our results suggest the current dogma that organic food is preferred to conventional food may not always be true,” McKenzie said. “Protein is an essential nutrient in the diet of all birds and mammals and getting enough of it — especially in winter — can be hard. We showed that when given free choice, wild birds opt for the conventional food over the organic, and the most likely explanation is its higher protein content.”
She cautioned, however, the study looked at only one aspect of the organic food debate and does not take into account the long-term health implications of using chemical fertilizers and pesticides, or the often negative environmental impact of conventional farming.
“But,” she said, “it does raise questions about the nutritional benefits of organic food and what consumers are being led to believe.”
The study appears in the May 18 issue of the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture.
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