Abstract #196

# 196
Organic versus conventional milk production systems.
Savannah B. Meade*1, Jeffrey M. Bewley1, 1University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY.

In the past decade, organic farming has increased in popularity. Many consumers who support organic farming believe that organic products differ in composition from conventionally produced products. Additionally, organic milk supporters often believe that organic dairy farming is more beneficial to cows and the environment. The milk is produced without antibiotics, added hormones, synthetic chemical treatment or genetic modification. This leads many consumers to believe that organic milk has potential human health benefits. Milk composition is affected by many factors. Studies comparing organic vs. conventional milk are sparse. A recent Journal of Dairy Science review covers the individual factors that affect milk composition and provides an overview of a few studies that compare organic and conventional milk. Factors influencing milk composition, such as nutrition, breed, and stage of lactation, have been studied individually, but are difficult to compare simultaneously. Some studies have shown that organic milk has higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid, but it is unclear as to whether these differences are truly beneficial. Milk fatty acids are often researched when considering organic vs. conventional milking systems because fatty acids respond rapidly and are very sensitive to changes in the diet of cattle. Studies also discuss the use of antibiotics, the presence of hormones, and genetic modification factors that many organic consumers base their purchases on. More research needs to be conducted to determine whether one production system is more beneficial to human health than the other. Organic consumers pay a higher market price for their products, and as of now, no proven benefits for purchasing organic milk have been demonstrated. No major health differences between organic and conventional dairy products have been proven.

Key Words: organic milk production, conventional milk production, milk composition