The Associated Press reported recently that the Minnesota Department of Health is refusing to pay for organic food through the federal Women Infants and Children program it administers. One state official noted that the price of organic foods can be as high as “2 times the cost of nonorganic foods.”

Curiously, no mention has been made about the health risks associated with eating an organic-only diet, including life-threatening E.coli bacteria from the fertilizing manure used in organic growing. Minnesota officials have also had nothing to say about a 2002 study showing that “natural” and organic foods are 8 times more likely to be recalled for safety reasons,” when compared to foods with conventionally-grown ingredients. Ironies abound: it turns out that organic foods, which are marketed as “safer” and “more healthful” alternatives, are neither.

As the American Council on Science and Health puts it, “We have an estimated 5,000-10,000 deaths a year in the United States from food-borne bacteria, but none from pesticides. Does it make sense to use organic farming methods if it even slightly raises the risk of infection? Should we fear pesticides because they are artificial? The science-based answer to both questions seems to be a clear ‘no.’”