My thoughts on the Organic Debate

advice, clean living, Uncategorized

NOTE: I wrote this over a year ago, and it still pretty much stands to reflect how I view the matter today. The only difference is that I’m now leaning toward veganism. That and I realized that the note neglected to point out that when I use the term GMO, I’m not referring to selective breeding, and I’m not talking about taking genes from one food to another with the intent of creating a new strain (whether for its flavor or ability to tolerate different climates and landscapes) – I’m talking about pesticides.

Read on and let me know your thoughts. I’m always open for discussion!

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I buy organic and as a result, I get into a conversation about the topic fairly often. I decided to put something together to make it a little easier for people to understand my stance on it.

 

A few things about me and the way in which I go about choosing the food I eat. I’m a vegetarian (for a few reasons) who’s phased out eggs and cheese for the most part. I eat very little processed food, and when I do, I’m reading the ingredients. If there are chemicals (READ: chemicals that are not essential for nutrition and that have proven to be harmful even in small doses. I believe that everything adds up and since these ingredients aren’t necessary anyway, there’s no harm in leaving them out), I don’t buy it or I learn to make it from scratch. I make everything from scratch including BBQ sauce, vegan sour cream (a recent thing and it came out freaking awesome), bread, hummus, seitan – damn near everything. The list doesn’t sound very impressive, I’m sure, but it’s not even 10:00 in the morning, so bear with me. The reason for it is because I’d like to know what’s in my food. Once I looked at the ingredient list of my table salt and saw sugar in there (among a few other things), I questioned everything.

 

As I’m writing this, I’m talking to my friend Marcus who was the last to get into the organic conversation with me. We’ve surmised that people know very little about the food they’re eating and it’s as a result of the convenience we’ve been handed. It’s made us lazy and we’ve stopped asking. We’ve stopped learning. There’s a very important learning process that comes with making something from scratch. Food is what fuels us and keeps us healthy. It can kill us if we’re not careful. I think that’s a good enough reason to be a bit more concerned and aware.

 

The reason I’m posting this is because my friend Ben (Marcus’s husband) linked me to an article about organic food being a sham. Here’s the link:https://www.facebook.com/IowaFarmBabe/posts/1613228518959586:0

 

Below is the response I posted to his page so as to let him know (since he’s actually asking, I wasn’t looking to get into it with Farm Babe) what I thought:

 

As far as the post regarding how much of a sham organic food is and how much safer synthetic pesticides are by a person who goes by “Farm Babe”, I’m going to respond to you because she speaks in definite terms in where none actually exist as of yet and you genuinely want to know what I think about it. I’ve pasted parts of her post and put asterisks at the beginning and end of her points for easier reading. I’ve also cited an article a point because a. it would take a very long time to put all of the information I’d like together in order to respond to this properly and fully and b. my point is not to say that organic is definitely safe of any harm – I don’t trust anything or anyone.

 

The same philosophy that I hold true as far as god is concerned holds true for this; definite proof does not exist in either direction and so I remain in the middle. As far as why I still buy organic food even though it’s certified by the USDA (see below on my feelings on that) and I don’t trust anyone when personal interest is involved (and it always is)? They claim to prohibit the use of chemical fertilizers, various synthetic substances, irradiation, sewage sludge, or genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in organic production. Even if there are loopholes and they are still able to mess with my organic food to a degree, I believe that at the very least, less is being put in and done to my food.

 

Her ABOUT section notes ***Farmers are the cornerstone of America and have a big job to do if we plan on feeding an estimated 9 billion people by the year 2040.***

 

1/3 of food produced is never even consumed according to the Swedish Institute for Food and Biotechnology on behalf of the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO). We currently produce enough food to feed the world; the reason some people don’t have food is not due to scarcity, but inequality.

 

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, a third of our food is produced through cross-pollination. The bee population has been suffering as of what is considered to be a result of GMO-laden crops.

 

Henry, Mickaël, et al. “A common pesticide decreases foraging success and survival in honey bees.” Science 336.6079 (2012): 348-350.

 

Monsanto put out and told us that DDT, Agent Orange, and PCBs were safe. The FDA doesn’t actually regulate what is being approved; they place the responsibility on the companies to ensure that their product is safe. You can find that information as they list it on their site:http://www.fda.gov/Food/FoodScienceResearch/Biotechnology/ucm346030.htm

 

I have visited Monsanto’s site.

I’ve read the many questions fielded by concerned citizens and Monsanto’s respectiveresponses. Most of the responses don’t actually address the questions asked and the others have a copy and paste (I noted the exact same verbaige on several responses – whether or not it applied) full-of-air, general response. Some responses as far as why other countries are banning GMOs were that of the countries’ different standards. Why aren’t those standards being brought to the forefront and being addressed if there’s no harm or worry? The responses were very vague and aren’t effectively answering or addressing anything.

This is also a newer portion of their site and the response to why they’ve joined the conversation too late is because they were too busy dealing with farmers and helping to feed the masses. With over 20K employees and a billion dollar industry, it’s hard to imagine they couldn’t address the staggering amount of backlash and concern because they just didn’t have the time. I suppose it’s because they have such a good hold on their political backers, they didn’t see it as much of a threat.

My main concern is that we’re entrusting big companies to make the right decisions as far as our health goes, but if you look into it, a lot of the regulations either A. Don’t apply because of loopholes, B. Don’t exist within certain industries or C. Are incredibly lax, allowing companies to conduct the research and regulate themselves.

There’s far too much to question and as a result, there’s a lack of trust on my end.

Damn the man, save The Empire.

 

USDA and EPA scientists and advisors admit there is a need for comprehensive testing and warn about “unpredictable unintended effects that could escape detection by current risk assessments” regarding the use of GMOs and its effects on dsRNA.Smith, Jeffrey. “Why Scientists are Worried about the GMO Potato and Apple.”

 

Other articles found showing pesticides not completely making their way out of the system in mice and while more studies need to be done, a prudent approach to GMOs is not far out.Malatesta, Manuela, et al. “Ultrastructural analysis of pancreatic acinar cells from mice fed on genetically modified soybean.” Journal of Anatomy 201.5 (2002): 409-415.

 

As far as the list provided showing natural substances to be used for organic farming

 

It’s important to note that when looking into 205.601, it states: “§ 205.601 Synthetic substances allowed for use in organic crop production. In accordance with restrictions specified in this section, the following synthetic substances may be used in organic crop production: Provided, That, use of such substances do not contribute to contamination of crops, soil, or water. Substances allowed by this section, except disinfectants and sanitizers in paragraph (a) and those substances in paragraphs (c), (j), (k), and (l) of this section, may only be used when the provisions set forth in § 205.206(a) through (d) prove insufficient to prevent or control the target pest.”

 

To be clear, these synthetic substances allowed for use in organic crop production can be used unless they prove to be a contaminant. Some of the substances, as stated in the rest of the program’s guidelines, are only used to clean machinery, those used for actual pest control are specific as far as to the exclusion of nitrates, chlorides and other such harmful versions of the substance used and others used do not even come in contact with the actual organic food. Is that to say that organic is completely free of some form of pest control? Obviously not, but the pesticides used in conventional produce is either part of the actual food (Bacillus thuringiensis corn) or sprayed directly onto the food.

 

The USDA is not the most reliable and trustworthy company. It’s ridiled with corruption and is essentially run by Monsanto at this point. Michael Taylor, a former Monsanto lobbyist turned USDA administrator and FDA deputy commissioner. Margaret Miller researcher for Monsanto. Former Monsanto lobbyist Islam Siddiqui is the Chief Agricultural Negotiator in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. There are plenty of others, enough to question the motives behind this kind of takeover.

 

Additionally, I don’t buy a lot of processed foods and if and when I do, I make sure to check the label. If there’s an ingredient on there that I don’t know about, I’ll research it. If it’s questionable, I avoid it. Being too careful? Possibly, but I don’t think the lack of these questionable ingredients will do me any harm and since I’m not left without any food options at the end of that decision making process, I don’t think it’s an extreme way to go about making food choices.

 

***Until recently, nobody bothered to look at natural chemicals (such as organic pesticides), because it was assumed that they posed little risk. But when the studies were done, the results were somewhat shocking: you find that about half of the natural chemicals studied are carcinogenic as well.” –https://www.ocf.berkeley.edu/~lhom/organictext.html***

 

The rest of the post reads ***“It should be noted, however, that we don’t know for certain which system is more harmful. This is because we do not look at organic pesticides the same way that we look at conventional pesticides. We don’t know how long these organic pesticides persist in the environment, or the full extent of their effects.I say this… Not because I want you to fear Organic food. Quite the opposite. The moral of the story is that ALL food is safe, because the dose makes the poison. (Take 2 Tylenol, not the whole bottle) Farmers spray a very minimal amount on our crops, just to get the job done to rid of insects weeds, etc. They are very expensive, and it makes ZERO financial sense to “drench” our crops in chemicals.***

 

A. She mentions that natural chemicals used are more harmful than synthetic and yet states” all food is safe”. B. I’d agree with her in saying that the dose is very important, just as you can overdose on a vitamin which is thought to be inherently good for you, but to say that they spray a minimal amount is speculation. Additionally, the fact that a lot of the residual chemical has been found to stay in our systems, while the dose on the actual piece of fruit is minimal, the build-up of it in our systems and its effects over time may not be.

 

***GMO Corn gets sprayed before the edible part of the plant is present, and is protected by husks, anyways. It’s humanly impossible to “eat” roundup.*** It is possible to eat pesticides. Bt Corn, or Bacillus thuringiensis corn is categorized as a pesticide by the EPA.

 

Even though I buy organic, I’m aware the world in which we live turns on the little finger of the rich. I’m aware that they can get away with all kinds of things like skewing reports, greasing politicians and scientists and so I don’t think that there is a true and definitive answer out there as of yet and I wonder if we’ll ever really be told the truth once it’s uncovered. I just err on the side of caution and avoid having any extra ingredients in my food that are, for nutritional and cooking purposes, useless and possibly questionable.

 

If there was conclusively nothing wrong with GMOs, Monsanto would be responding to all of this backlash. The fact that they aren’t just makes it all look even more questionable. The argument that they don’t have to prove anything goes out the window where public health and safety is concerned. If it’s safe, educate your consumer. Get everyone on board.

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