Fruit Flies Live Longer on an Organic Diet

fruit flies

When Ria Chhabra was but 13 years old she heard her parents discussing whether the cost of organic food was worth the benefit. She decided to research the topic for a school science project and during her research noticed there was not enough information to make a clear judgment, so Ria decided to come up with the proof herself. At first Ria tested organic and conventional produce for vitamin C levels (organic had more) but she realized she needed more evidence of benefit, than simply vitamin C levels. So Ria looked on the internet for inspiration on how to conduct a more thorough study and she decided testing fruit flies was ideal due to their short life span, and the well known fact that dietary factors affect fruit fly fertility, longevity and health.

Ria sent out letters to known fruit fly researchers and was excited to hear back from Dr. Johannes Bauer of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, which is fairly close by to her home. Ria conducted the research over the summer at Dr. Bauer's lab.

The flies were fed a homogenized mash of either bananas, potatoes, raisins or soybean. Both the conventional and organic produce was purchased at a Whole Foods store in the area. The study tracked daily a minimum of ten vials per test, each vial contained 25 males and 25 females (only 10 males and 10 females were used per vial for the fertility tests). Rai came to the lab each day to count living or dead flies as well as the number of eggs produced. The graphs speak for themselves...

Length of LIfe Data:
fruit fly test

Obviously the raisins kept the flies alive much longer than the soybeans. The startler as to the soybeans, is that the conventional eating soybean flies were all dead after just 10 days, whereas some of the organic eating flies lived till day 18, almost twice as long as the conventional soybean eaters. (Just conjecture, but the early conventional soybean deaths could well be due to the soybeans being GM as well as with possible pesticide residue.)

fruit fly organics

Out of the four test foods, it appears bananas keep fruit flies alive the longest. The probable reason for little difference between consuming organic or conventional bananas and length of life: there is not much difference between conventional and organic banana pulp as it is covered in a peel which protects the pulp from absorbing the pesticides and fungicides. 

organic fruit fly experiment

Daily egg production.

organic eating fly

"Flies fed extracts of any organic produce had significantly higher daily egg production than flies fed conventional diets. Interestingly, flies fed the normal balanced laboratory diet have significantly higher fertility, with an egg production peak between five and ten days, while flies fed the produce extract had steadily declining fertility levels, reminiscent of what is observed with longevity. Due to the extremely short life spans of flies raised on soy diets, flies raised on soy diets were excluded from all subsequent assays."

Starvation and stress resistence were also tested, but for a raisin diet, the organic fed flies always faired better. The researchers acknowledge that almost all negative or neutral results were obtained when using raisin diets. "Suggesting the beneficial health effects of organic diets are dependent on the specific food item."* Activity was also measured, and here flies raised on extracts of organic raisin and banana food had higher overall activity than flies fed the conventional diets.*

The data demonstrate that flies raised on organic food extracts by and large performed better on the majority of health tests.

Congrats to high school sophomore, Ria Chhabra, who at the age of 16, had her first scientific paper published.

*Find the study here:

Read more at Southern Methodist University:

To test if organic food is healthier than conventionally grown food, they fed one group of fruit flies an organic diet and a second group a conventional diet.

In the lab of SMU biologist Johannes Bauer research found that fruit flies raised on organic foods performed better on various health tests. Flies on organic diets showed improvements on the most significant measures of health, namely fertility and longevity, said high school student Ria Chhabra, who led the study.



Share this page...
Become a Fan of Inspiration Green




Write a comment

  • Required fields are marked with *.

If you have trouble reading the code, click on the code itself to generate a new random code.
Food Blog Additional Posts
Showing 1 - 20 of 38 Articles
< Previous 12 Next >
25 Grams of Sugar a Day
The World Health Organization recommends eating no more than 25 grams of sugar a day.
Best Local Ecofriendly Beers
Each year Good Food Awards blind taste tests hundreds of beers that meet their ecofriendly criteria. The winners are the tastiest, most environmental friendly and socially responsible beers in the U.S..
Sugar and Diet Soda
Sugar and Diet Soda's affects on the Human Body.
For ever Wonderbag you buy on Wonderbag will be donated to a family in Africa.
The New Farm Bill
Direct payments end, food stamps cut by $800 million a year.
Arsenic and New Rice
Many feel, after numerous studies have revealed high levels of arsenic in rice, that it is time for the government to set a limit.
Veg plot in a pot
Save space, harvest both tomatoes and potatoes from one plant!
Pigs Fed a GM Diet
New study shows stomach inflammation as well as uterus enlargement in GM-fed pigs.
Dent Corn Puts a Dent in Our Health
Our federal dollars are being used to keep the American populace unhealthy and fat. Even though we seem to have a crisis on our hands, the U.S. government, corn lobbyists, trade associations and the Big Six (Monsanto, BASF, Bayer, Dow, DuPont and Syngenta) keep oiling the corn machine that was started in the mid-70s...a machine that needs to be reassessed.
Fruit Flies Live Longer on an Organic Diet
Sixteen year old publishes scientific study showing fruit flies live longer and are more fertile if fed organic food versus conventional.
Fruit for the Butterflies
What to do with that overripe watermelon, the half eaten banana, the bruised peach.
Food Companies Fighting GMO Labeling
Organic (and some Natural) food brands owned by big corporations. And which and how much those large brands are donating to fight GMO labeling.
Is Milk a Whole Food?
The definition of a whole food, is a natural food that has not been processed or has been refined as little as possible. Unfortunately, ultra-pasteurized, homogenized, grain-fed cow's milk is no longer a whole food. It is highly manipulated.
The Price of Food
A breakdown of monies spent on food and the cost of food during the last thirty years.
Where is the Hunger?
World Hunger Map and population growth.
Great Depression Cooking
Clara Cannucciari - Learn how to make simple yet delicious dishes while listening to stories from the Great Depression.
Antibiotic Chicks
Currently, unapproved use and abuse of antibiotics for food-intended animals is common practice. Sources say, close to 80 percent of all antibiotics sold in the U.S. are being fed or injected into cattle, pigs and poultry on industrial factory farms.
Bento Box Inspiration
If you have the time, seems like a fun way to create healthy meals with your kids. Or, in the doldrums? Create a packed lunch just for yourself!
Yak Milk in Your Cracker?
Nowadays whole milk is required to have a set 3.25 percent milkfat. Well, cows do not give milk at a set 3.25 percent milkfat... Learn how we get our milk so standardized. Also of interest are MPCs. Milk Protein Concentrate is de-fatted, ultra-pasteurizated, ultrahomogenized, ultrafiltrated (UF), unregulated, powdered skimmed milk. Many manufacturers are using MPCs in their dairy products instead of real milk. Why? Because MPCs are a cheap and easy way to add a filling, stable protein into a product. Although MPCs do add protein, it is a very processed form. Are MPC's hurtful to the local food movement? Yes, as this dried, spoil resistant product takes less to transport than the fresh liquid milk, companies are choosing this processed powder over fresh milk.
Food Choices Affect the Climate
Eating 'less' meat and dairy is the best way to reduce emissions. But know that, less dense cheeses produce fewer greenhouse gases since they take less milk to produce. Cottage cheese, ricotta, cream cheese, part-skim or fresh mozzarella, gouda, feta, muenster and non-fat yogurt are all more earth-friendly choices, especially if organic.
Showing 1 - 20 of 38 Articles
< Previous 12 Next >