What is the real difference between choosing organic versus conventional produce? There should be a logical reasons for spending more on produce or taking the time to grow your own right? When you choose organic, you choose to let go of the following:

Pesticides

  • At least 19 major chemicals used on US crops are associated with disrupting human hormones.
  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services have determined that of the 25 most commonly used agricultural pesticides:
  • 5 are toxic to the nervous system
  • 18 are harmful to the skin, eyes and lungs
  • Approximately one half are comprised of cancer causing chemicals
  • 17 cause genetic damage
  • 10 are harmful to reproductive organs
  • 6 disrupt normal functions of hormones
  • Over 98% of the sprayed insecticides and 95% of the herbicides reach a destination other than their target species including air, water and food.
  • In the US, pesticides are found to pollute every stream and 90% of the wells sampled in a study by the US Geological Survey.
  • Application of pesticides to crops in bloom can kill honeybees which act as pollinators. The USDA estimates that US farmers lose at least $200 million a year from reduced crop pollination due to pesticides. Approximately 20% of the honeybee colonies in the US have been eliminated by pesticides.
  • Some pesticides contain persistent organic pollutants (POPs), which travel great distances and have the ability to bioaccumulate, biomagnify and bioconcentrate up to 70,000 times of their original concentrations. They disrupt endocrine, reproductive and immune systems. Some are banned, some continue to be used.
  • The USDA estimates 20% of the endangered species including 67 million birds and 6 to 14 million fish are killed by pesticides in the US each year.
  • The Pesticide Data Program started by the USDA in 1991 and has tested over 60 different types of food for over 400 types of pesticides. The most recent summary results in 2005 revealed 5 % contained no detectable pesticides, 30 % contained 1 pesticide and slightly over 40% contained more than 1 pesticide.
  • Research from an independent test run by the FDA and USDA from over 100,000 samples of food detected the 12 most highly contaminated foods with pesticides are meat, dairy, strawberries, apples, tomatoes, potatoes, spinach, coffee, peaches, grapes, celery and bell.

Artificial Fertilizers

  • Contain harmful salts that contaminate soil and create hardpan which lock up water and other nutrients.
  • Destroys earthworms and beneficial microorganisms.
  • According to The Carbon Connection “Every pound of excess nitrogen applied to the soil by artificial fertilizer destroys 100 pounds of humus.”
  • Nitrogen fertilizer losses get into waterways, which can lead to eutrophication (nutrient loading) and hypoxia (oxygen depletion) of large bodies of water. An example of this lies in the Mississippi Valley Basin, where years of fertilizer nitrogen loading into the watershed from agricultural production have resulted in a hypoxic “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico the size of New Jersey.
  • Plants grown with ammonia based synthetic fertilizer actually attract pests and diseases (Earth Kind Gardening, 1993).
  • Synthetic nitrogen fertilizer increases the amounts of toxic nitrates. According to the National Research Council, 6 of the top 7 and 9 of the top 15 foods with cancer causing risks are produced with products with high nitrate content.
  • Vitamin C decreases as synthetic nitrogen fertilizer increase (Soil Scientist, USDA).
  • Most synthetic fertilizer use fillers to help carry the nutrients that are not listed on the label. They can be chemical salts, sand, lime dolomite or even dangerous heavy metals.
  • A series of investigative reports by the Seattle Times Newspaper has found that many companies that manufacture synthetic fertilizer add hazardous waste and radioactive waste to their fertilizers (July-August 1997-1999).
  • Artificial fertilizer could replace key elements but could not replenish vibrant healthy topsoil, or humus required to grow health giving food. Humus isn’t an inert substance composed of separable elements but a complex ecosystem with many diverse microorganisms.
  • The biggest part of the natural nitrogen cycle is performed by soil bacteria. Artificial fertilizer disrupts this.
  • According to the book “Topsoil & Civilization” every great nation has risen and fallen according to the quality of topsoil.

Sewage Sludge

  • Is a viscous semisolid mixture of bacteria and virus laden organic matter, toxic metals, synthetic organic chemicals and settled solids removed from domestic and industrial waste water at a sewage treatment plant.
  • Contains over 60,000 toxic substances and chemical compounds.
  • Sewage plants detoxify 42% of the hazardous components through biodegradation. Another 25% escapes into the atmosphere and 19% is discharged into lakes and streams. The remaining 14%, approximately 28 million pounds per year, winds up as sewage sludge.
  • Once created this must be disposed of and the cheapest method available is to spread sludge on farm fields.
  • The WEF (Water Environment Federation) is the main lobby association for US sewage treatment plants and is working closely with the EPA to persuade farmers and food processors that sewage sludge is a beneficial fertilizer, which they rename biosolids.
  • In 1994, the US General Accounting office found that the full extent of the radioactive contamination of sewage sludge and its related by-products are unknown.

Bioengineering or GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms)

  • A radical new technology that forces genetic information across the protective species barrier in an unnatural way.
  • Genes from one species are inserted into another. For example genes from the arctic flounder which has “antifreeze” properties may be spliced into a tomato to prevent frost damage.
  • 71% of all GM crops were genetically engineered to be herbicide resistant so that a field can be sprayed with chemicals and everything will die except the resistant crop.
  • GM soy is in about 60% of all processed food. GM maize is in about 50% of processed foods. GM enzymes are used throughout the food processing industry. Government regulations on labeling exclude 95-98% of the products containing GM ingredients.
  • A laboratory produced DNA construct is shot into embryonic plants with a “gene gun.” These plants are then grown in a medium with antibiotics. Only a small percentage of plants survive – those that have the antibiotic resistance gene.
  • The Monsanto Corporation is one of the world’s largest chemical companies and the most aggressive promoter of genetic engineering in agriculture. It is the agricultural subsidiary of Pharmacia, a transnational pharmaceutical company. In the 1900s, it brought the technology to manufacture saccharin, the first artificial sweetener. In the 1920s, it became a leading manufacturer of sulfuric acid and other basic industrial chemicals.
  • Nearly every non-organic product contains GMO corn, soy, canola, cottonseed oil and a growing amount of wheat and rice.
  • The most common GMO is splicing chemical pesticides into food crops, and then the chemicals in the food cannot be washed off or reduced by peeling skin.
  • Newest developments are pharm crops, pharmaceutical drugs and vaccines grown on food. Permits have been issued to grow birth control, AIDS vaccines, and herpes simplex vaccines on food in the open field. Corn is one of the most common host plants.
  • GE (genetically engineered) organisms cannot be recalled or contained after they have been released and any problems then multiply for the rest of time. Researchers at Purdue University estimate that just 60 GE fish released into a wild population of 60,000 fish would lead to the extinction of the wild fish in only forty generations.
  • The fateful five products are: corn and corn products, soy and soy products, rice, wheat, canola and cottonseed oil (cotton is not regulated by FDA).
  • The very companies who stand to profit decide whether or not these products are hazardous. No independent checks of companies’ claims are required.
  • Phil Angell, Director of Corporate communications at Monsanto was quoted as saying “Monsanto should not have to vouch for the safety of biotech food – our interest is in selling as much of it as possible.”

Ionizing Radiation

  • Is intended to extend shelf life, pasteurize and sterilize food
  • The impetus for food irradiation has not come from farmers, the developing world, retail grocers or consumers. In the early 1970s, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) whose mandate is to promote nuclear technology began to hold seminars on food irradiation and established a joint committee of experts. In 1976, this committee decided new chemicals called radiolytic products that are produced in irradiated food do not need to pass tests of toxicity as do other food additives.
  • It became classified as a process and only additives require testing, not processes.
  • Irradiation can increase the production of some extremely toxic aflotoxins by certain fungi, especially nuts and grains. These are extremely potent carcinogens.
  • Even though a small percentage of chemical bonds are broken when food is irradiated, it can result in the loss of the cells ability to replicate.
  • Molecules become reactive and form free radicals.
  • Vitamins are destroyed, especially C & E
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