Young Student Answers Organic Debate With Fruit Flies
When Dallas-based 16-year old Ria Chhabra was in middle school, she overheard her parents debating the value of organic versus conventional produce. She decided to put the debate to rest and win the local science fair.
She discovered that organic had more vitamin C than what we call conventional produce (with pesticides). She kept going and recently, her work was published in PLOS ONE peer reviewed online science journal. Check out her work, “Organically Grown Food Provides Health Benefits to Drosophila melanogaster.” She has won a variety of honors including lab privileges that grad students envy.
What was her big conclusion? After weeks of tracking the activities of fruit flies it was determined that the ones who feasted on organic potatoes, raisins, or soy had health that soared past the ones dining on conventional produce. Organic versus conventional bananas did not pose significant difference. She tested for stress resistance, fertility and longevity. Scientists are hesitant to correlate fruit fly health with humans, but love to use them for study because of their short life spans and quicker results.
She is called “extraordinary” by the lone professor with a fly lab who embraced her request for help. Dr. Johannes Bauer of South Methodist University enjoyed working with his youngest colleague and will be sorry to see her go soon, as she’ll have her pick of top colleges. “The seriousness with which she approached this was just stunning,” he stated.
Now a sophomore in Plano, Texas, Ria said:
I had no idea what publishing my research meant. My mom told me, ‘This is a pretty big deal.’
A TV doctor made waves when he recanted his previous praise for organic and suddenly decided there was no difference, almost mimicking a New York Times article verbatim. Think she’ll be on his show anytime soon? Around the same time, an organic activist suddenly switched to GMO love with great apologies and desire for “real science.” With hope, Ria’s hard work, praised by reputable science journals, will stand the test of time and spread to quell the “no difference between organic and conventional” talk.
There is no more debate for Ria’s family – it’s organic from now on.Image: Wikimedia Commons
Photo by Jared Belson