The Organic Trade Association hailed preliminary findings from a four-year European Union study that indicate some organic foods are more nutritional than their non-organic counterparts.

"This study may be the breakthrough that helps prove what many in the organic sector believe to be true about food grown using organic practices," says Caren Wilcox, executive director of the Greenfield, Mass.-based association.

She was referring to the findings announced by Professor Carlo Leifert of the Tesco Centre for Organic Agriculture based at Newcastle University in the United Kingdom.

Preliminary results from this study, which is part of the EU-funded Quality Low Input Food Project, show organic fruit and vegetables have up to 40 percent more antioxidants than non-organically grown produce, while organic milk contains up to 60 percent to 80 percent more antioxidants than conventionally produced milk in the summer, and 50 percent to 60 percent higher levels in the winter. Organic milk also was found to contain higher levels of vitamin E.

The research team led by Leifert has been raising fruits, vegetables and cows both organically and non-organically on sites on a 725-acre farm near Newcastle University. The research is scheduled to run for an additional year.

In announcing the preliminary results, Leifert says such benefits suggest that eating organic food would be equivalent to eating an extra portion of fruit and vegetables a day.

The research project, started in March 2004, is funded with a grant of 18 million Euros ($25.8 million) from the EU. The research program involves 31 research centers, companies and universities in Europe and elsewhere. To read more about proejct, visit

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