QUOTABLES: Organic Duel - Scientists Versus Scientists (Providing Balance)
Editor's note: The real battle lies between organic advocates/industry and the conventional food industry.
Director of Farm and Food Policy
The Cornucopia Institute
Consumers should not lose sight of the important impacts of organic agriculture, which produces foods without the use of toxic pesticides that have been linked to an array of health problems, including cancer and ADHD in children. This study confirmed once again that organic foods contain significantly lower levels of pesticide residues, and that alone should be enough reason for every family to consider exclusively purchasing organic foods.
Our knowledge about nutrition is continually growing, and scientists are constantly discovering new nutrients, as well as new benefits of existing nutrients.
I am willing to bet that in a couple of decades, scientists will know about nutrients in foods that we have not yet discovered today, and that science will catch up with the common sense notion that foods grown in healthy, alive soil contain a wider array of valuable nutrients, compared with foods grown in sterilized soil that was provided a quick boost of energy with the help of constant applications of synthetic petrochemical-based fertilizers.
Parents don’t want their children to serve as human guinea pigs for chemical corporations.
For dozens of different types of fruits and vegetables, the USDA has found pesticide residues above the EPA’s threshold for children on conventionally grown samples, but not on organic samples.
These included foods that are very popular with young children, including apples, peaches, plums, pears, grapes, blueberries, strawberries and raisins. The pesticides found as residues on these conventional fruits have been linked to higher rates of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in a study by researchers at the University of Montreal and Harvard.
It would be extremely short-sighed for parents to choose the cheaper, conventional, pesticide-laden fruits and vegetables for their children just because this meta-analysis concluded that levels of certain nutrients are not higher in organic foods.
Buying conventional foods for children is like playing Russian Roulette with their health; do you really want to be the unlucky customer who buys that apple or bunch of grapes containing more than ten times the level determined to be dangerous to the long-term health of children?
We should all care about reducing all pesticides we are exposed to, not just as residues on the foods we eat, but in our air and water. Organic agriculture provides a real solution to the growing problem of agrichemical contamination.
Pamela Coleman, PhD
Farm and Food Policy Analyst
The Cornucopia Institute
The Organic Center reviewed published research comparing organic and conventional fruits and vegetables. Their report, published in 2009, concluded that the organic samples contained higher concentrations of phytonutrients than the conventional samples. The average American eats less than half the recommended amount of these phytonutrients (antioxidants and polyphenols). Eating organic fruits and vegetables is a way to increase intake of healthy phytonutrients.
There are many factors that affect nutritional content of fruits and vegetables. The highest nutrition is found in foods grown in healthy soil, picked at the peak of ripeness, and eaten soon after picking. Organic farmers build healthy soil; local farmers offer food that is ripe and fresh.
Choosing organic food at your local farmer’s market will provide the healthiest, and often the tastiest, food.
Organic farmers build healthy soil to ensure long-term sustainability of their farm. Organic farmers eschew harmful pesticides, to preserve their own health and the health of their neighbors and customers.
Mark A. Kastel
Codirector and Senior Farm Policy Analyst
The Cornucopia Institute
Unfortunately, the analysis done by the Stanford physicians did not look "outside the box," as many organic farming and food advocates do.
They discounted many of the studies, including by the USDA, that show our conventional food supply's nutritional content has dropped exponentially over the last 50 years. This has been attributed to the declining health of our farms’ soil, and healthy soil leads to healthy food. Organic farming’s core value is building soil fertility.
Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have become ubiquitous in processed food with an estimated 80%-90% contaminated with patented genes by Monsanto and other biotechnology corporations.
There have been virtually no long-term studies on human health impacts of ingesting GMOs, although many laboratory animal and livestock studies have led to disturbing conclusions. The best way to operate using the "precautionary principle," as regulators do in Europe, is to eat a certified organic diet where GMOs are banned.
The researchers might trust the FDA to set "safe" levels of toxic and carcinogenic chemicals in the food we serve our families, but many parents have decided to set a lower threshold—as close to zero as possible. And the doctors at Stanford confirm demonstrably lower levels of pesticide contamination in organic food.
In supporting this cautious approach, there is a growing body of scientific literature that suggests it's not just the gross level of toxic contamination that pesticides present but rather minute amounts of these toxins can act as endocrine disruptors, or mimickers, sometimes triggering catastrophic and lifelong abnormalities in fetuses and developing children.
To illustrate the difference, researchers at the University of Washington published a paper in Environmental Health Perspectives that documented a tremendous drop in organophosphate pesticide contamination, in the urine of children, after just three days on an organic diet. This is hard science that did sway the Stanford investigation's conclusion.
The Cornucopia Institute PO Box 126 Cornucopia, WI 54827 www.cornucopia.org
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