Daily News About Organic Products
1.4K views | +0 today
Daily News About Organic Products
How to avoid pesticides, antibiotics and hormones in the products we eat and use
Curated by Organapedia
Your new post is loading...
Your new post is loading...
Scooped by Organapedia

The Deep Harm of Antibiotics in Non-Organic Foods

The Deep Harm of Antibiotics in Non-Organic Foods | Daily News About Organic Products | Scoop.it
Organapedia's insight:

Dr. Cesar Chelala: Resistance to antibiotics is a growing phenomenon and has become one of the world’s most serious public health concerns. Antibiotic resistance is a form of drug resistance where some bacteria are able to survive the administration of one or more antibiotics. This phenomenon is a consequence of misuse and overuse of antibiotics in medicine and in livestock feed. As a result of this, there is a growing presence of superbugs, as are called microorganisms -mostly bacteria- that carry several antibiotic-resistance genes.

The seriousness of the problem is underscored by the World Health Organization (WHO), which in a recent report has called this phenomenon a ‘global threat.’ The WHO report follows a 2013 U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report which showed that two million people in the U.S. are infected annually with antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and 23,000 people die each year from them. Last year, Dr. Sally Davies had called the problem a “ticking time bomb” and said that it probably will become as important in the magnitude of its effects as climate change.

As a result of antibiotic resistance and the increasing number of superbugs, common infections that could be treated without major problems have become untreatable. In 2012, the WHO reported 450,000 cases of tuberculosis in 92 countries where multiple drugs used to treat them were found ineffective.

A similar situation may happen with gonorrhea, with the serious public health consequences it implies. Sexually transmitted gonorrhea is now increasing worldwide, and so is its resistance to antibiotic treatment.

“Effective antibiotics have been one of the pillars allowing us to live longer, live healthier, and benefit from modern medicine. Unless we take significant actions to improve efforts to prevent infections and also change how we produce, prescribe and use antibiotics, the world will lose more and more of these public health goods, and the implications will be devastating,” said Dr. Keiji Fukuda, WHO’s assistant director general for health security.

The new WHO report has gathered information on antibiotic resistance from 114 countries. The problem is particularly serious because no new antibiotics are being developed. As Dr. Danilo Lo Fo Wong, senior adviser on antimicrobial resistance to WHO Europe has indicated, “New antibiotics coming into the market are not really new. They are variations of those we already have.” The last completely new class of antibacterial drugs was developed 27 years ago, according to the report.

Many bacteria acquire the ability to destroy antibiotics to protect themselves. They develop a gene for antibiotic resistance to one or more antibiotics by developing a mutation that results in the production of enzymes that inactivate the antibiotics. And the bacteria accumulate resistance by developing new genes. In a strange twist of fate, genetics can work against us. Thus, any time a person uses an antibiotic without proper indication or for a shorter time than needed, it is promoting the development of antibiotic resistance.

Sir Alexander Flemming, who discovered penicillin, warned about this danger in his 1945 Nobel lecture when he said, “The time may come when penicillin can be bought by anyone in the shops. Then there is the danger that the ignorant man may easily underdose himself and by exposing his microbes to non-lethal quantities of the drug make them resistant.”

In addition, the widespread use of antibiotics in livestock feed to help them grow better and put on more weight increases the magnitude of the problem. When livestock excrete the antibiotics they are largely not broken down. They then enter the environment through the ground and water and, when newly ingested by humans they retain the capacity to promote antibiotic resistance. Thus, the resistant bacteria in animals due to their exposure to antibiotics in their feed can be transmitted to humans via three pathways: consumption of animal products, close contact with animals, and through the environment.

In 2001, the Union of Concerned Scientists estimated that more than 70 percent of the antibiotics used in the U.S. are given to animals in their food. Despite WHO’s warning that the use of antibiotics in animal husbandry should be prohibited, they continue to be used without restraint.

With fewer drug options, the most negatively affected are the poor and those that lack health insurance, circumstances that limit the search for the most effective treatment. The WHO, the medical charity organization Médecins Sans Frontières, and experts worldwide have stated that a global plan for the rational use of affordable antibiotics is urgently needed. To ignore their advice is to sow the seeds of our own destruction.

(Click on headline to view source.)

No comment yet.
Scooped by Organapedia

What Foods Should I Avoid to Keep GMOs Off Our Plates?

What Foods Should I Avoid to Keep GMOs Off Our Plates? | Daily News About Organic Products | Scoop.it
Organapedia's insight:

Ina Denburg: We are concerned about GMOs in our diet. Can you tell me which foods I should avoid to keep GMOs out of our pantry and off our plates?”

The five foods you most need to concern yourself with if you want to steer clear of GMO foods are :

  1. Soy and all its derivatives: (flour, oil, lecithin, protein, isolate and isoflavone)
  2. Corn and all its derivatives: (flour, meal, starch, high fructose corn syrup, dextrose, glucose)
  3. Sugar derived from beets (which read on labels as sugar, or pure sugar. Instead look for “cane sugar”, which comes from sugar cane, and is not GMO-modified.)
  4. Canola oil (Also called rapeseed oil, sometimes combined with corn and/or soy oil and called vegetable oil)
  5. Cottonseed oil

These are the top 5 GMO foods, and once you start reading ingredient labels, you will find them, usually listed as multiple ingredients, in nearly 80% of all mainstream processed, frozen, baked and packaged foods. They are ubiquitous within our food system, from cereals to breads, soups to frozen dinners, snacks and ice cream, even some infant formulas.

The best way to ensure you aren’t eating GMO foods is to purchase packaged/processed foods that have been Non-GMO Project-certified. This is the current gold standard of labeling (with a maximum Action Threshold of 0.9% possibly being GMOs, which is in alignment with laws in the European Union).

USDA Certified Organic
 is the other label to look for. Organic certification does not allow the use of any genetically engineered product or ingredient in the growing of crops or raising of livestock. In the case of a processed food with multiple product ingredients, the USDA organic seal verifies that the product has 95% or more certified organic content – genetically engineered products are not allowed...

(Click on headline to view the entire article.)

No comment yet.
Scooped by Organapedia

New Research Confirms Benefits Of Organic Foods

New Research Confirms Benefits Of Organic Foods | Daily News About Organic Products | Scoop.it
Organapedia's insight:
Frank Mapranny: The past two years have witnessed a steep increase in demand for organic food. A 25-million dollar European-Union-funded study on organic food (the biggest of its kind to date) obtained its results after growing fruits, vegetables and raising cattle on adjacent organic and non-organic sites. This four-year study, called the Quality Low Input Food (QLIF) project, revealed that organic food is far more nutritious, nourishing and healthy than ordinary produce and can greatly improve human health and longevity.
The study found that: 
  • Organic fruits and vegetables contain 40 per cent more antioxidants. 
  • Organic produce contains higher levels of beneficial minerals like iron and zinc.
  • Milk from organic herds contains 90 per cent more antioxidants.
Here are some more plus points of going the organic way:
The taste of organic fruits and vegetables is superior to non-organic harvests. The cherries from ordinary supermarkets may look great on a cake but they lack the taste of naturally grown goodies. Pesticides and various chemicals may result in better looking output by ordinary farms. However, the taste of fresh organic fruits is simply irresistible!
The average baby is born with 200 toxins and carcinogens in the  body. By the time newborns reach their second year, most have passed the lethal limit of the toxins. So by feeding your child organic food, he or she will have only 1/6th the amount of carcinogens in the blood. As a result, you will significantly decrease the chances of illnesses. 
Do you ever wonder why organic vegetables and fruits perish so much faster than produce from normal supermarkets? The reason is that many foods are irradiated. Irradiation kills bacteria and extends food life. But, it also alters molecular structure and life force as some irradiation methods use radioactive substances, while others apply high-energy electrons or X-rays for food processing and preservation. On the other hand, raw organic foods have an unchanged life force.
Organic food stores don’t sell genetically-modified (GM) foods, as they are suspected to cause allergies as well as decrease the immunity. Though there are research papers to suggest the negative effects of Genetically Modified Food, the government is vague and secretive about its health consequences.
Organic-farm animals are raised without dangerous chemicals, growth hormones or antibiotics, so their meats are healthier. Pesticides used in ordinary farming not only affect the animals that eat the produce first, but also meat-eaters who buy animal protein from the market. The harmful chemicals accumulate in the animal tissues (mostly fat). Since animals are on top of the food chain, they get the highest concentration of these artificial substances. 
A cow, chicken or pig will retain most of the pesticides they have ever eaten (directly or indirectly). Factory-farm animals are fed with great quantities of polluted fish and food doused in pesticides and many other unnatural compounds, which are never consumed by wild animals.
Therefore, meat, fish and poultry from industrial farms have 10 times the dangerous chemicals like DDT, DDE and TDE.
Conventional farming measures erode soil and resort to dangerous pesticides. Thus, one of the huge advantages of buying organic food is that it is eco-friendly and earth-saving, as it leaves a great positive impact on the flora and fauna of this planet.

(Click on headline to view source.)
No comment yet.
Scooped by Organapedia

'Organic' doesn't mean pesticides weren't used

'Organic' doesn't mean pesticides weren't used | Daily News About Organic Products | Scoop.it
Organapedia's insight:

Brian Leahy has an interesting history. In 1980, he operated a 900-acre organic rice farm in California. In the 1990's, he managed an 800-acre organic corn, soybean, alfalfa and cattle farm in Nebraska. In 2002, he became executive director of the California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF). Then in 2012, Leahy became the director of the California Depart-ment of Pesticide Regulations.

Does that seem a bit strange?

"Pesticides will always be part of modern life," says Leahy in a recent interview with the Alliance for Food and Farming. "I want to show people that you can effectively manage pests by using pesticides as a last resort and choosing ones that are less toxic to people."

Guess he knows what he's talking about. Calif-ornia produces half the vegetables, fruits and nuts in the U.S. The Golden State also has the nation's most comprehensive program to regulate pesticide use.

"Our modern food supply, public health and resource management all rely on pesticides," says Leahy.

Yep, we heard that right.

As scary as the term "pesticide" may sound, it refers to any substance that controls pests such as insects and microbes that can destroy food crops or make us sick.

Even organic farmers use pesticides, says Leahy. Most are derived from microorganisms or other natural sources. Some are synthetically produced - synthesized from a mixture of compounds. And all are approved by the USDA National Organic Program.

Pesticides - those used on organic as well as conventional crops undergo the same rigorous scientific evaluation by the Environmental Protection Agency," says Leahy, "to ensure they will not harm people when used according to label instructions."

But really. Isn't organic … better?

Jon Marthedal, who grows conventional as well as certified organic blueberries in Fresno, Calif., says, "To some extent the operations are very similar. We use fungicides, fertilizers and insecticides in both operations. The big difference is the source of the chemical…when it is certified as organic it has to be a naturally occurring organic compound. [Ed. emphasis added.] And it's interesting because a lot of the chemicals that we use in our conventional operation are really just synthetic versions of the organic compounds that we use in our organic operations."

Soledad, Calif., farmer Rod Braga grows vegetables both organically and conventionally. "I think what people need to understand is that we do use pesticides on organic vegetables," he says. "And the rate at which we use them on the organic crops are actually at a much higher volume and often times more applications than we do on the conventional side. We just wouldn't be able to produce enough crops to feed everybody if we were organically growing and not using any pesticides."

So, is organic healthier than conventionally-grown produce? Remember, say experts with the Alliance for Food and Farming, the term "organic" defines how a food is produced. It does not address quality, safety or nutritional value.

(Click on headline to view source. Ed. note: We present this to show the PR being put out by Big Ag. The author, a dietitian, understates the harmful difference between organic pesticides and conventional pesticides, which have been documented in many scientific studies. The Alliance for Food and Farming appears to be a public relations front for Big Ag.)

No comment yet.
Scooped by Organapedia

Conventional vs. organic? Missing the mark (again)

Conventional vs. organic? Missing the mark (again) | Daily News About Organic Products | Scoop.it
Organapedia's insight:

Emily Marquez: Earlier this week, the industrial agriculture-backed Alliance for Food and Farming launched a new effort to challenge organic farming. And a few days ago an article was posted on Slateunderscoring many of the same points — challenging the benefits of organic food and farming, and downplaying the harms of pesticides to children.

We wholeheartedly agree with the Slate article author that eating fruits and veggies is important to children's health. But as I noted in a media statement yesterday, the fruits and vegetables children eat should provide nutrition to their bodies without exposing them to health harms that can last a lifetime. 

All parents should have access to safe and healthy food for their kids — and we're not there yet. For now, it's important that parents have the information they need to make informed choices. By choosing organic when possible, parents can both protect their families and help build a safer food system by supporting farmers who are moving away from reliance on harmful chemicals.

Protecting children's health

In 2012, the American Academy of Pediatrics released a policy statement on pesticide exposure in children, stating:

"Children encounter pesticides daily and have unique susceptibilities to their potential toxicity...understanding of chronic health implications from both acute and chronic exposure are emerging. Recognizing and reducing problematic exposures will require attention to current inadequacies in...regulatory action on pesticides."

In other words, when it comes to children and pesticides, it's time our policies caught up with the science.

In yesterday's media statement, I highlighted the various ways the Slate piece misses the mark. We’ve debunked many of these myths before, but here we go again.

Organic facts

1. The weight of scientific evidence tells us that some pesticides, even in small amounts, have adverse impacts on children’s health and intelligence.

We recently examined more than 200 peer-reviewed studies on children's health indicating that pesticides are indeed a cause for concern. You can check out the findings in our reportA Generation in Jeopardy.

Yes, we do go on about chlorpyrifos — but for good reason.  Chlorpyrifos is a classic example of a pesticide that has been well-studied, with a body of evidence from a number of researchers who have documented the links between adverse impacts on neurodevelopment and intelligence in children. Chlorpyrifos is part of a class of pesticides called organophosphates (OPs) that share a similar mode of action via the nervous system.

The American Academy of Pediatrics also cited exposure from food as the "most important source of exposure for [the pesticide classes] organochlorines and OPs." We know that chlorpyrifos residues show up in foods both here and in other countries, such as bread and cereal bars in the United Kingdom. And, there are the other OPs to consider. Though not as well studied, the fact that other OPs have a similar mode of action raises a warning flag.

But children in agricultural areas are still receiving a double dose of exposure, via residues in food andpesticide drift in communities where this pesticide is still used. Even though less is being used, we have documented chlorpyrifos drift in California and recently in the Midwest with our community partners using the  Drift Catcher.

2. The regulatory system is broken and even laws that are meant to protect kids aren’t being adequately implemented.

Chlorpyrifos is a poster child for why good scientific evidence sometimes simply isn't enough, given the pressure industry exerts on our regulatory system. It is a prime example of why we need to change the way we assess risk in this country.

Recognizing that children are more vulnerable to pesticides, Congress passed the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA) in 1996 to ensure greater protections.

Documents such as the Child-Specific Exposure Factors Handbook, written as a part of the FQPA, recommend values to use for factors of exposure in risk assessment. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) fully acknowledges that,

"In terms of risk, children may also be more vulnerable to environmental pollutants.... The developing brain can be particularly sensitive to environmental contaminants."

But those recommended FQPA safety values are just that. They are recommendations, and the factors are not consistently applied in every risk assessment of every chemical. Inconsistent application of FQPA safety factors is an issue we raise persistently with EPA.

3. Organic production has far-reaching benefits to our health and the environment.

Organic farming solves pest problems while minimizing risks to people and the environment. I recently presented at a soil and water conservation panel at the Women, Food and Agriculture Network's 2013 meeting. Conserving our soil and water by utilizing sustainable farming solutions must become a major priority.

The Organic Center adeptly illustrated the details missed in the Slate article's discussion of organic farming in their blog, adding that it's "also important to point out that eating an organic diet really does reduce people’s exposure to pesticides."

A 2006 study looked at pesticide intake in elementary school-age children whose diets were transitioned from conventional to organic for five consecutive days. The researchers found that immediately after transitioning to an organic diet, detectable levels of pesticide in the children's urine dropped to non-detectable levels.

To quote our colleagues from The Organic Center again, "the health benefits of organic are not without scientific basis, as suggested by this article, but supported by years of research."

Moving towards a just food system...

We need to move towards a system that minimizes pesticide residues on food, and especially minimizes exposure to pesticides that are harmful to children's health. Choosing food produced in a sustainable manner also protects the rest of us, particularly the health of farmers, farmworkers and residents of agricultural communities.

This generation — and those to come — deserve access to safe, fresh, nutritious food. Choosing organic options when possible reduces individual exposure to health-harming chemicals, yes, and also supports our food system to become more sustainable over the long haul.

Perhaps the most important point — that the Slate piece misses by a mile — is that we look to ecological and organic farming methods as a solution for the long term, and one that ultimately benefits our health and the environment.

(Click on headline to view source.)

No comment yet.
Scooped by Organapedia

Scientist again claims pesticide toxicity 'proof'

Scientist again claims pesticide toxicity 'proof' | Daily News About Organic Products | Scoop.it
Organapedia's insight:
PHYS.ORG: A controversial French biologist, whose 2012 paper on the alleged dangers of pesticides was withdrawn, has published new claims that the chemicals were many times more toxic than advertised.

Gilles-Eric Seralini's earlier work found that rats exposed to genetically modified maize and the pesticide Roundup developed tumours and other health problems, but his findings were questioned and his paper in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology finally retracted after his study methods were found lacking.

He told AFP on Thursday that follow-up tests, this time using human cells, showed that Roundup and other pesticides that can be bought over the counter were "between two and 1,000 times more toxic than their main, active ingredient. 

This was problematic, said Seralini, as the toxicity of the active ingredient is what determines product guidelines for accepted exposure levels to the pesticide being used.

"There has been a miscalculation of the real toxicity of pesticides," the professor said, claiming his research showed "cells begin to commit suicide" in petri dish experiments after exposure to the chemicals.

Seralini's earlier paper was quashed after it prompted probes of pesticide safety by several national health agencies as well as the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

The new study was published in the journal Biomed Research International, co-signed by two of Seralini's colleagues at the University of Caen in France.

It tested three herbicides (Roundup, Matin El and Starane 200), three insecticides (Pirimor G, Confidor and Polysect Ultra), and three fungicides (Maronee, Opus and Eyetak).

Of the nine, eight "were several hundred times more toxic than their active principle," the study said—and pointed to other "confidential" additions to the pesticide recipe.

Neither Roundup manufacturer Monsanto nor the EFSA could be reached for comment on Thursday.

The findings were welcomed by the French NGO Generations Futures (Future Generations), which demanded full disclosure of all the ingredients of pesticides. 

(Click on headline to view source.)

No comment yet.
Scooped by Organapedia

How Eating Organically Can Keep You Healthy

How Eating Organically Can Keep You Healthy | Daily News About Organic Products | Scoop.it
Organapedia's insight:

Aparna Heroor: About 11 years ago, I made the switch from conventional milk to organic milk. The idea of feeding my two little children milk from cows that had been treated with unnecessary hormones and antibiotics was horrifying to me.

To me, the term organic simply means untreated, pure, unadulterated. The little herb garden you have on your kitchen window sill- that’s organic. The tomatoes, greens, and bell peppers you have growing in your backyard- that’s organic. If it were up to me, I would even raise a cow, a couple hens, be able to catch wild fish, and harvest my own rice and wheat. Unfortunately, in the real world scenario, I rely completely on my neighborhood grocery store. Thankfully, there are so many organic options available out there that eating healthy has actually become quite easy in recent years.

I am no doctor or scientist, but common sense tells me that all those chemicals used to treat foods are certainly not good for the body. I have read enough material that clearly suggests that pesticides, fungicides, nitrates, nitrites, heavy metals (lead), and phthalates- all the stuff used and found in processed foods, including vegetables and meat- are carcinogenic. In fact, I remember watching this movie sometime back that said that in Europe, 70% of all cancers have been linked to the environment- 30% to pollution, and the remaining 40% to food! Pesticides have been found to cause respiratory problems in young children. They have also been found to be toxic to the nervous system as well as the reproductive system. The list goes on.

So does organic automatically mean healthy? Frankly speaking, I have a mixed opinion about this. But the fact is that the mother in me wants to believe this. I want the best for my kids, and my topmost priority is their good health. The idea of feeding my family foods that may have high amounts of pesticide residue doesn’t excite me. Since I am the one responsible for all food matters in the household, I always try to pick healthy foods, and incorporate as many organic options as I can. I do have to do some budgeting, and as we all know, organic foods cost more than their conventional counterparts. The good thing is that a lot of stores sell organic foods in bulk, at a great price. You can even get farm fresh produce delivered right to your doorstep thanks to Full Circle. I must point out that organic foods tend to have a superior taste.

I can’t always keep everything organic. Sometimes I do succumb to junk food from that fast food place once in a while. So here’s my list for organic must-haves:

  1. Milk
  2. Eggs
  3. Vegetables; especially spinach, kale, green peas, etc. Fruits such as apples, peaches, grapes, strawberries, etc. If you are going to keep it raw, I’d like to keep it organic.
  4. Poultry, and other meat

We are what we eat. A healthy balanced diet will do wonders for the body and mind; and eating organic foods more often will definitely promote a healthier life, and ultimately, a healthier planet for future generations.

(Cick on headline to view source.)

No comment yet.
Scooped by Organapedia

Organic Foods Industry to Grow by 14 Percent Through 2018

Organic Foods Industry to Grow by 14 Percent Through 2018 | Daily News About Organic Products | Scoop.it
Organapedia's insight:

Erin Trauth: If you’ve been trying to incorporate more organic foods into your diet lately, it looks like you’re not alone. According to the United States Organic Food Market Forecast & Opportunities 2018 report (via Food Navigator-USA), the demand for organic foods is increasing, and the compound annual growth rate is projected at 14 percent from the 2013 – 2018 period.

According to 2012 estimates by the Organic Trade Association via Food Navigator-USA, 81 percent of United States families purchase organic foods “at least sometimes.” This equated to more than $81.3 billion in natural and organic retail sales in the 2012 fiscal period. Now that’s a lot of organic food!

The report also shows where in the country organic thrives most. The Washington Times summarizes: “The western states in United States hold the major market share in the total organic food market revenues. However, increasing per capita income coupled with the growing domestic production and commercial sector are anticipated to surge the demand of organic food in other regions of the country.”

No matter where you are in the country, organic options, if they’re affordable, are often a good choice when compared to their conventional counterparts. They usually mean fewer pesticides, no GMOs, and a lot more oversight by regulating agencies like the FDA and USDA.

If you’re new to the organic market, here’s a primer of what the labels mean. If you’re already buying organic, do tread carefully still. Read your ingredients list and scrutinize what still may be in your food, but do know, beyond growing every single thing yourself, you’re probably doing the very best you can for your body by choosing the organic option. And, now, you’re part of a growing trend of people who also know this to be true.

(Click on headline to view source.)

No comment yet.
Scooped by Organapedia

Pesticides in soap?

Pesticides in soap? | Daily News About Organic Products | Scoop.it
Organapedia's insight:

Kristin Schafer: Scan the ingredient list of many "antibacterial" soaps and body washes, and you'll find triclosan. This pesticide — yes, I said pesticide — is so widely used that it's now found in most of our bodies. And after decades of thinking about it, FDA is finally saying "enough."

It turns out some significant risks are linked to triclosan, including altering how hormones work in our bodies, undermining our immune systems and making bacteria resistant to antibiotics. Oh, and according to FDA experts, it doesn't seem to get hands or bodies any cleaner than good old soap and water.

Two things bubble up (sorry!) as most interesting to me about FDA's recent announcement. First, how commonsense it is: they'll be requiring manufacturers to prove their soapy pesticide products — which carry known risks — work better than regular soap and water. Or they'll be off the shelves. What a good idea!

And second, that it's taken much, much too long to take this simple step — 42 years, to be precise.

Back in 1972 . . .

In her recent switchboard blog, NRDC's Mae Wu describes how triclosan products slipped onto the market and into our bodies, despite concerns being flagged by scientists way back in 1972. It took a few years to get the process rolling, and then:

"In FDA’s first draft monograph in 1978, triclosan and triclocarban were not approved as safe or effective.. [but] since FDA never finalized that draft monograph, triclosan and triclocarban have been allowed in those products and antibacterial soaps have since proliferated on the market."

Wait, they found these products were neither safe nor effective, but forgot to finish the paperwork that would keep them off the market?
Sheesh. Three decades of aggressive marketing later, the Centers for Disease Control found triclosan in the bodies of 3 out of 4 Americans.

It was these body burden data — samples taken in 2003 and 2004, released in 2009 — that finally sounded alarm bells loud enough to get things moving. That, and growing public pressure from PAN and other groups, including lawsuits and legal petitions from our colleagues at NRDC, Beyond Pesticides and Food and Water Watch.

States & companies take the lead

While the federal agencies are dusting off their paperwork, states and market actors have been getting things done. After finding triclosan in Minnesota lakes, the Governor signed an executive order early in 2013 to get triclosan products off the shopping list for all state agencies and institutions.

And both Johnson and Johnson and Proctor and Gamble have pledged to pull triclosan out of their products in the next year or two.

This is very good, because even with the FDA process finally in motion, soaps and body washes won't be off the shelves until 2016 at the earliest.

And then there's the long list of triclosan imbued products — from bibs to running gear, mattress pads to cutting boards — that are governed by EPA. Early in 2013 the agency charged with protecting our health and environment announced an "accelerated" plan for reviewing triclosan products, to be completed by... 2019. Really guys?

Stay tuned for ways you can weigh in to help policymakers speed things up, and finally get this one right. Meanwhile, check the ingredient list of any product labeled "antibacterial" for triclosan — and reach for something else instead.

(Click on headline to view source.) 

No comment yet.
Scooped by Organapedia

8 Million Acres of China's Farmland Too Polluted To Grow Food

8 Million Acres of China's Farmland Too Polluted To Grow Food | Daily News About Organic Products | Scoop.it
Organapedia's insight:
Diana Herrington: More than 8 million acres of farmland in China is so highly polluted that it is too contaminated to grow crops! This was just reported by Wang Shiyuan, deputy minister of the Ministry of Land and Resources. Even higher pollution estimates — up to 60 million acres — are speculated by some scientists.


How did it happen?

Farmers used heavy metals (lead and cadmium) and other chemicals to grow food, a Cabinet official said.  Also, there has been a heavy use of farm chemicals along with very lax environmental enforcement by the country.

The reason the toxicity went unnoticed? Partly because officials have their hands full with smog and water contamination.

Disturbingly, the government would not release the results of a nationwide survey of soil pollution, stating the information was a state secret.

A dangerous level of cadmium was found by inspectors in the rice grown in Henan, a major heavy metal-producing region.  Cadmium is a carcinogenic metal that can cause kidney damage and other health problems.

China, wanting to grow as much food as possible from its land, has put thousands of farms close to chemical plants, mines and other heavy metal industries. This, of course, has increased contamination.

What is China doing to remedy this huge problem?

Farmers across China are now prohibited from growing food for human consumption in areas considered highly polluted. Wang said the government was determined to prevent toxic metals entering the food chain.

  1. The Communist Party has a five-year plan, promising to reduce heavy metal pollution and clean up contaminated areas.
  2. The government is working on a long-range plan and expects to spend several tens of billions of yuan (several billion dollars) a year on the effort according to Wang.
  3. Scientists say one approach could be to plant trees and other vegetation to absorb heavy metals.

Apparently this has been going on a very long time as a land survey revealed traces of toxic metals dating back a century. Researchers say that as much as 70 percent of China’s soil could have problems.

Our food and farmland can be safe if we make healthy choices.

This is one more reason to eat organic whenever possible. I always eat the dirty dozen organic, and I try to grow as much of my own food as possible in my tiny little garden.

(Click on headline to view the source for this article.)

No comment yet.
Scooped by Organapedia

More young people turn to organic foods

More young people turn to organic foods | Daily News About Organic Products | Scoop.it
Organapedia's insight:

Rick Montgomery: Some recent studies dish up hope: Youths do not live by Flamin' Hot Cheetos alone. In fact, many consider it cool to munch on chemical-free kale. Pigging out isn't going away anytime soon, but research suggests that American teens and under-30 adults are turning to organic foods.

In some cases they're snacking on heirloom tomatoes and rice cakes without their parents' prodding. They're planting gardens at schools and sharing online videos that graphically depict the industrial making of sausage. For growing numbers within the millennial generation, something about healthy food seems to be taking hold.

"I feel great," said Park Hill High School sophomore Jeremiah Brown, who swore off junk food in eighth grade and has since shed 50 pounds. "I cut out most fats and oils and went with vegetables and whole grains."

And nobody forced him to do it. "I pretty much came onto this on my own," said Jeremiah, now a wrestler and medal-winning swimmer.

A survey released in October by the investment firm Piper Jaffray & Co. said, "Teens are increasingly choosing organic food options, with 39 percent eating organics versus just 33 percent two years ago." The report continued: "This trend is likely to support ongoing demand for natural and organic ... as teens age into young adults and establish independent households." Piper Jaffray's semiannual "Taking Stock of Teens" survey gathers input from more than 8,000 teens nationwide.

Last year, another study of millennials, this sample born between 1982 and 2001, found that 58 percent surveyed were willing to pay more to buy natural or organic food products. Only 43 percent of baby boomers said the same, according to the study by global investment groups Jeffries and AlixPartners. 

The reason investment companies have taken interest? "I think it's a really, really strong change that's going to continue into the future," Piper Jaffray's Sean Naughton said of the healthier eating habits of young consumers, especially among those with higher levels of education. "This has taken off and become a phenomenon. It's not something that will just ebb and flow through business cycles. I think it's systemic."

Science is not totally on board with arguments about the health advantages of eating organic - be it locally grown, farm to market, farm to table or any number of marketing phrases in vogue.

But a sample of opinions suggests many factors beyond nutrition have driven under-30 consumers to the organic aisles. "They like it on an aesthetic level," said Brooke Salvaggio, co-owner of Bad Seed, which hosts a farmers market in Kansas City, Mo. "They're concerned about the environment. They're concerned about the use of pesticides, about GMOs (genetically modified organisms), about cruelty to animals ... "Those are cool things to be concerned about." And easy access to information by way of cellphones and the Internet allow grocery shoppers to delve into the complexities of how foods are grown and processed. In fact, information is so quick to find that it's not always right, cautioned Salvaggio.

A string of documentaries, available through Netflix and YouTube, have taken aim at conventional food industries. Beginning with "Super Size Me" in 2004, which parodied the all-McDonald's diet, and more recently with films such as "Genetic Roulette" and "Food, Inc.," younger viewers are rethinking the ways we eat, said chef Bob Brassard, who teaches culinary arts for the Shawnee Mission, Kan., School District.

"We start off our year watching 'Food, Inc.,'" said Brassard. In a typical class of 22, he said, five to seven students will bone up on as much information that's available on organic products and locally produced foods. "Ten years ago, I wouldn't have had any of those kids," Brassard added. "I think we're really seeing a swing." One of his students, senior Elisa Gentry, said she learned the benefits of cutting back on fast foods from her brother, who is a year older and aspires to be a nutritionist.

Eating right, she said, "gives me more energy. I feel more cleansed. I don't stress out as much."

Other teens - the younger portion of a generation dogged by obesity - are discovering a new wellness when they cut back on junk food, said Park Hill culinary arts teacher Nora Whitney. "When I'm in class, I ask how many students know someone with diabetes. And you see all these hands going up," Whitney said. "I think growing up in that environment is beginning to affect their choices."

Not for all millennials, of course, and probably not even for the majority, said Stu Shafer, who teaches sustainable agriculture and food sociology at Johnson County Community College. "At least a significant minority of the younger generation are now what I'd call food aware," he said. "It's certainly true if they're college age." Many may never show an interest in organic and healthier foods until they face the prospect of raising their own kids, said Lottie Barker, the 25-year-old manager of Nature's Own Health Market in Kansas City. "Whoever's having babies right now are the most concerned" about their food choices, she said.

For Tami Bourquin of Olathe, Kan., mother of three kids ages 10 to 15, healthy eating habits initiated years ago have made her children look forward to weekly shipments of local fruits and vegetables to their door.

"They really like the kiwis and pears," Bourquin said. "They like the kale and leeks. "It's really just a mindset. Once you break old habits, it's pretty easy."

The marketing world is getting wise to that customer base. The company that ships to the Bourquin home, Colorado-based Door to Door Organics, sees younger, tech-driven consumers at the forefront of a food revolution - not only in what they eat, but in how they get it. Order online and your locally grown vegetables and free-range chickens show up.

"Just in the last 12 months, there's been a pretty transformative change in food and technology," said CEO Chad Arnold. "It's enabling small producers in local markets to have access to consumers as never before."

Frito Lay and McDonald's will spend millions on TV advertising. But smaller health food merchants are targeting millennials through free social media and interactive websites. And through schools too. The Merc Community Market & Deli, serving local and organic foods in Lawrence, Kan., has helped establish garden projects at all four of the town's middle schools and at two elementary schools.

In many cases, youths are educating their parents about healthier food options, said John Gordon Jr., who directs a Kansas City nonprofit called Boys Grow Corp. that introduces teens to urban farming. "I don't know how it's happened, but it sure wasn't that way when I was a kid," said Gordon, 37. "It's an empowering thing for a young person to be able to tell their families ways to eat healthier."

(Click on headline to view source for this article.)

No comment yet.
Scooped by Organapedia

Pesticides Commonly Found on U.S. Produce Raise Flags for European Food Regulators

Pesticides Commonly Found on U.S. Produce Raise Flags for European Food Regulators | Daily News About Organic Products | Scoop.it
Organapedia's insight:

The decision by Europe’s top food safety agency to call for new restrictions on two pesticides common on conventionally-grown U.S. produce because they “may affect the developing human nervous system” in young children underscores the danger of reliance on pesticides, Environmental Working Group (EWG) said today.

The two chemicals, acetamiprid and imidacloprid, are from the neonicotinoid family of pesticides believed contribute to the widespread death of honeybee colonies.

In its latest round of testing, released earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) detected residues of both these neurotoxic pesticides on a number of conventional fruits and vegetables, including apples, baby food pears, lettuce and sweet bell peppers.

“American parents should be outraged. For years, children in the U.S. have been eating foods contaminated with these two pesticides even though there was little or no research to prove that they wouldn’t harm children’s health,” said Ken Cook, EWG’s co-founder and President.

“This latest news out of the European Union is precisely why EWG issues its annual Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides, because many of these chemicals that were once thought to be safe turn out later to present a potential risk to people, particularly kids.”

Between 2006 and 2011, USDA detected imidacloprid on roughly 22 percent of the conventionally grown produce samples it tested. Some of the food items where the pesticide was detected most often are:

  • Broccoli (60 percent)
  • Cauliflower (59 percent)
  • Grapes (51 percent)
  • Spinach (48 percent)
  • Lettuce (34 percent)
  • Potatoes (33 percent)
  • Sweet bell peppers (32 percent)
  • Cherry tomatoes (21 percent)
  • Apples (20 percent)

During the same period USDA detected acetamiprid on 10 percent of produce samples.

The foods where the pesticide was detected most frequently include:

  • Summer squash—zucchini and yellow squash (51 percent)
  • Apples (29 percent)
  • Pears (27 percent)
  • Celery (19 percent)
  • Collard greens (17 percent)
  • Strawberries (13 percent)
  •  In 2010 and 2011, USDA detected acetamiprid on more than 25 percent of pears used to make baby food.

“For parents who have been able to follow the old adage, ‘don’t panic, buy organic,’ this news from European regulators and USDA laboratories is further reason to justify the value of their investmentin their children’s health,” Cook said.

(Click on headline to view source for this article.)

No comment yet.
Scooped by Organapedia

'Food fraud' a growing problem in grocery stores

'Food fraud' a growing problem in grocery stores | Daily News About Organic Products | Scoop.it
Organapedia's insight:

Jean Henderson: If you are what you eat, you could be having an identity crisis. Foods we eat every day could include ingredients that aren't supposed to be the there. It's called "food fraud" and its a growing problem.

Fish, honey, milk, orange juice, and olive oil - what do they all have in common? They top the list when it comes to food fraud. 

Cheap imitations are filling up grocery store shelves.

"One of the ways that happens is by substituting one ingredient for another. It's hard for consumers," said Dr. Mark Stoeckle, a Senior Research Associate in the Program for the Human Environment at The Rockefeller University.

High cost ingredients are especially susceptible to fraud, says Stoeckle. More expensive products are being replaced with cheaper imposters.

The top fraudster foods: olive oil. Even the extra-virgin kind is the most adulterated food, usually cut by hazelnut oil, which could pose a dangerous threat to those with nut-allergies.

Even milk can contain added sugar and salt, and skim powder - none of it listed on the label.

Tea bags are sometimes being filled with lawn grass. More expensive white tuna is switched for cheaper escolar.

Your favorite juice is mostly apple, even if it's labeled blueberry or cranberry. Honey is also one of the most common faux foods. Some are diluted with sugar syrup, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup. And according to Food Safety News, some honey being shipped from China is laced with antiobiotics and heavy metals.

Marianne Petrino sells her own honey at the farmers market.

But if you can't make your own, how do you protect yourself and your family? First, buy a whole lemon instead of lemon juice. Buy loose leaf tea instead of tea bags. Purchase whole spices, but don't buy into the newest food trend. And most importantly, rely on reputable sources you can trust. That means buying locally, if you can.

Activitists believe there also needs to be a push for more testing and regulation on foods coming from overseas.

(Click on headline for source. Editor's note: Organic foods undergo more testing that conventional foods and are less likely to have ingredients that are not listed on the label.)

No comment yet.
Scooped by Organapedia

The Mendacity Of GMO Purveyors

Definition of mendacity: lack of honesty.

Organapedia's insight:

Jim Hightower: Tenacity can be a virtue. But the persistent push by giant food conglomerates to deceive us consumers has turned their tenacity into raw mendacity.

Brand-name food peddlers are spreading hundreds of millions of dollars on lobbyists, lawyers, campaign donations, PR hypesters, and political manipulators so they can genetically (and dangerously) alter the dinner we put on our family tables, without bothering to tell us which items they've messed with. With practically no public notice, their first deception was to get Washington to okay the production and introduction of genetically modified organisms into corn, canola, soy and other crops. Then they quietly pushed to prevent federal regulators from requiring that these tampered Frankenfoods be labeled as containing GMOs. Next they tried a grand deception insisting that foods tainted with GMOs qualify for the national "organic" label.

Even our usually-submissive regulators balked at that one -- but, look out, for here they come again! Big Food's industry front group, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, is now demanding that foods with genetically-engineered ingredients be allowed to use the word "natural" on their packages.

Natural? Let's see -- one, these biotech mutations are not products of nature, but of corporate technicians; and two, the plants are manufactured in corporate labs by extracting genes from a foreign plant or even an animal, then splicing those genes into the manufactured creature. The very DNA of this man-made "food" is altered, with no understanding of the long-term environmental or health consequences.

A Twinkie is more natural than that! They're perverting both our language and nature's reality. To oppose these profiteers' tenacious mendaciousness, contact the Environmental Working Group: www.ewg.org.

(Populist sparkplug Jim Hightower is a best-selling author and winner of the Puffin/Nation Prize for Creative Citizenship, and author of the monthly newsletter, the Hightower Lowdown.  See: www.jimhightower.com)

No comment yet.
Scooped by Organapedia

Why The 'Non-GMO' Label Is Organic's Frenemy

Why The 'Non-GMO' Label Is Organic's Frenemy | Daily News About Organic Products | Scoop.it
Organapedia's insight:

Dan Charles: It's easy to think of "organic" and "non-GMO" as the best buddies of food. They sit comfortably beside each other in the same grocery stores — most prominently, in Whole Foods Market. Culturally, they also seem to occupy the same space. Both reject aspects of mainstream industrial agriculture.

In fact, the increasingly successful movement to eliminate genetically modified crops — GMOs — from food is turning out to be organic's false friend. The non-GMO label has become a cheaper alternative to organic.

"More and more, there's concern [among organic food companies] that they created a monster," says Mark Kastel, a pro-organic activist who's co-founder of the Cornucopia Institute.

The conflict between organic and non-GMO food became clear to me while reporting two stories in recent weeks, one about non-GMO grain and another about organic eggs. I visited Allen Williams, a farmer near Cerro Gordo, Ill., who straddles this divide. He grows everything: lots of organic crops; non-GMO corn and soybeans; and some genetically modified crops.

His nonorganic fields are treated essentially the same, whether the crops are non-GMO or genetically modified. Williams keeps those fields weed-free with chemical herbicides, although he has to use different chemicals on the non-GMO fields. He adds standard commercial fertilizer to keep the soil fertile. Basically, it's just conventional farming. Williams will get a higher price for his non-GMO soybeans and corn, but it's not a huge premium over the standard commodity price — about 15 percent for soybeans, 10 percent for corn.

Organic production is a whole different ballgame. For fertilizer, Williams uses tons of chicken litter that he buys from a big chicken producer miles away. To control pests, he grows a variety of crops: soybeans one year, then corn, then wheat, and sometimes sunflowers, too. During the growing season, he hires people to walk through soybean fields and cut down weeds. He always plants a "cover crop" after the main crop is harvested, to capture nutrients — mainly nitrogen — and keep them from washing away.

That all takes time and money, which is why most farmers won't do it unless they get paid more. The gap, in fact, is astonishing: Organic soybeans currently cost twice the price of standard conventional beans. This means, in turn, that any food made from those soybeans — think organic chickens, which eat a soy-rich diet — will be more more expensive than food that's simply "non-GMO."

No food retailer likes high costs. If it can offer a cheaper product that attracts the same consumers, it will do it. According to Kastel, that's how Whole Foods and others are using non-GMO labels.

"This is a potent marketing vehicle designed to blur the line between organic and nonorganic," he says.

Murray's Chicken, a company based in New York, recently announced that it was now "offering 'better-for-you' non-GMO chicken without the organic price tag." In a Whole Foods Market that I recently visited, the store had posted a sign explaining that organic eggs were out of stock, but that "during this shortage, we have expanded our selection of Non-GMO Project Certified eggs to provide you with high-quality alternatives."

David Bruce, director of eggs, meat, produce and soy for Organic Valley, a major organic food company, says the non-GMO labels "definitely" are diverting some consumers away from organic food. "We call it trading down," he says.

Bruce says organic companies need to draw a clear line that sets organics apart from any alternatives.

"The goal is to educate consumers that 'non-GMO' or 'natural' products are not 100 percent the same as an organic product," he says.

(Click on headline to view source.)

No comment yet.
Scooped by Organapedia

WATCH: Organic Food Takes on Meaningless 'All Natural' Labels

WATCH: Organic Food Takes on Meaningless 'All Natural' Labels | Daily News About Organic Products | Scoop.it
Organapedia's insight:

Elizabeth S. Mitchell: We’ve covered many-a-story about the controversy surrounding food labeling and the meaninglessness of the “All Natural” claim. Everyone from grassroots organizations and political groups to concerned parents and food bloggers have taken various stands to educate the public on what’s really in their food. Now, the latest group to tackle the weighty subject is organic business.

In a thoroughly amusing The Office-style mockumentary starring Josh Childs, organic food growers slam the falsity of the “All Natural” label and its sinister sibling “100% Natural,” and take a pretty good swipe at the ad industry while they’re at it.

After deftly laying a heavy dose of truth on the audience, the video concludes by shining a ray of hope into the darkness by claiming that while “All Natural” foods might contain GMOs and a host of other synthesized ingredients, “USDA Organic” is the real deal. As the video’s accompanying website states:

Unlike so-called ‘natural’ foods, organic food is actually held to tough standards, enforced by the USDA. Organic foods must be free of  toxic pesticides, genetically engineered ingredients, hormones and antibiotics to carry the organic seal. In other words, only organic guarantees that food was produced as Mother Nature intended.

Advertising perfectly disguised as anti-advertising and mixed with a healthy dose of humor? Pretty well-done if you ask us!

(Click on headline to see link to the very funny video.)

No comment yet.
Scooped by Organapedia

Sugar tied to fatal heart woes - fizzy drinks a culprit

Sugar tied to fatal heart woes - fizzy drinks a culprit | Daily News About Organic Products | Scoop.it
Organapedia's insight:

Associated Press: For someone who normally eats 2,000 calories daily, even consuming two 12-ounce cans of soda substantially increases the risk.

Could too much sugar be deadly? The biggest study of its kind suggests the answer is yes, at least when it comes to fatal heart problems.

It doesn’t take all that much extra sugar, hidden in many processed foods, to substantially raise the risk, the researchers found, and most Americans eat more than the safest amount.

Having a cinnamon roll with your morning coffee, a supersized sugary soda at lunch and a scoop of ice cream after dinner would put you in the highest risk category in the study. That means your chance of dying prematurely from heart problems is nearly three times greater than for people who eat only foods with little added sugar.

For someone who normally eats 2,000 calories daily, even consuming two 12-ounce cans of soda substantially increases the risk. For most American adults, sodas and other sugary drinks are the main source of added sugar.

Lead author Quanhe Yang of the US Centres of Disease Control and Prevention called the results sobering and said it’s the first nationally representative study to examine the issue.

Scientists aren’t certain exactly how sugar may contribute to deadly heart problems, but it has been shown to increase blood pressure and levels of unhealthy cholesterol and triglycerides” and also may increase signs of inflammation linked with heart disease, said Rachel Johnson, head of the American Heart Association’s nutrition committee and a University of Vermont nutrition professor.

Yang and colleagues analysed national health surveys between 1988 and 2010 that included questions about people’s diets. The authors used national death data to calculate risks of dying during 15 years of follow-up.

Overall, more than 30,000 American adults aged 44 on average were involved.

Previous studies have linked diets high in sugar with increased risks for non-fatal heart problems, and with obesity, which can also lead to heart trouble. But in the new study, obesity didn’t explain the link between sugary diets and death. That link was found even in normal-weight people who ate lots of added sugar.

“Too much sugar does not just make us fat” it can also make us sick,” said Laura Schmidt, a health-policy specialist at the University of California, San Francisco. She wrote an editorial accompanying the study in Monday’s JAMA Internal Medicine.

The researchers focused on sugar added to processed foods or drinks, or sprinkled in coffee or cereal. Even foods that don’t taste sweet have added sugar, including many brands of packaged bread, tomato sauce and salad dressing. Naturally occurring sugar, in fruit and some other foods, wasn’t counted.

Most health experts agree that too much sugar isn’t healthy, but there is no universal consensus on how much is too much.

US government dietary guidelines issued in 2010 say “empty” calories including those from added sugars should account for no more than 15 per cent of total daily calories.

The average number of daily calories from added sugar among US adults was about 15 per cent toward the end of the study, slightly lower than in previous years.

The authors divided participants into five categories based on sugar intake, from less than 10 per cent of daily calories — the safest amount — to more than 25 per cent.

Most adults exceed the safest level and for 1 in 10 adults, added sugar accounts for at least 25 per cent of daily calories, the researchers said.

The researchers had death data on almost 12,000 adults, including 831 who died from heart disease during the 15-year follow-up. They took into account other factors known to contribute to heart problems, including smoking, inactivity and excess weight, and still found risks for sugar.

As sugar intake increased, risks climbed steeply.

Adults who got at least 25 per cent of their calories from added sugar were almost three times more likely to die of heart problems than those who consumed the least — less than 10 per cent.

For those who got more than 15 per cent — or the equivalent of about two cans of sugary soda out of 2,000 calories daily — the risk was almost 20 per cent higher than the safest level.

Sugar calories quickly add up: One teaspoon has about 16 calories” one 12-ounce can of non-diet soda contains has about 9 teaspoons of sugar or about 140 calories” many cinnamon rolls have about 13 teaspoons of sugar” one scoop of chocolate ice cream has about 5 teaspoons of sugar.

Dr Jonathan Purnell, a professor at Oregon Health & Science University’s Knight Cardiovascular Institute, said while the research doesn’t prove “sugar can cause you to die of a heart attack”, it adds to a growing body of circumstantial evidence suggesting that limiting sugar intake can lead to healthier, longer lives.

(Click on headline to view source.)

No comment yet.
Scooped by Organapedia

Big Ag goes organic and non-GMO (Come again?)

Big Ag goes organic and non-GMO (Come again?) | Daily News About Organic Products | Scoop.it
Organapedia's insight:

Chris Bennett: There’s a trillion dollars riding on the global produce market and Big Ag is moving toward a much larger share, going new school with old school breeding techniques. There’s been no Damascus conversion on the non-GMO and organic road — just recognition of the profits to be made.

Scientific American is running a sharply written story by Ferris Jabr on the marriage of traditional plant breeding with fast and cheap genetic sequencing tools. Jabr describes “… a new generation of plant breeders who combine traditional farming with rapid genetic analysis to create more flavorful, colorful, shapely and nutritious fruits and vegetables.

These modern plant breeders are not genetic engineers; in most cases they do not directly manipulate plant DNA in the lab. Rather, they sequence the genomes of many different kinds of plants to build databases that link various versions of genes — known as alleles — to distinct traits. Then, they peek inside juvenile plants to examine the alleles that are already there before choosing which ones to grow in the field and how best to mate one plant with another.”

Agriculture companies, staring down the barrel of economy-sized regulatory costs and a consistent segment of public opposition to GMO technology, are hopping on the marker-assisted breeding bus. The tools for examining DNA sequences aren’t new — but they’re consistently less expensive, faster and more focused. From SciAm: “Marker-assisted breeding is one of the engines pushing breeders to completely rethink their craft. Whereas the major GMOs and most conventionally created crops on the market were designed primarily to benefit farmers, many breeders are now shifting their attention to the consumer.”

Wired is running a good piece by Ben Paynter detailing Monsanto’s new produce push: “Frescada lettuce, BellaFina peppers, and Bene-forté broccoli — cheery brand names trademarked to an all-but-anonymous Monsanto subsidiary called Seminis — are rolling out at supermarkets across the U.S. But here’s the twist: The lettuce, peppers, and broccoli … aren’t genetically modified at all. Monsanto created all these veggies using good old-fashioned crossbreeding, the same technology that farmers have been using to optimize crops for millennia.” [Ed. emphasis added]

(Click on headline to view source.)

No comment yet.
Scooped by Organapedia

Do Microwaves Zap Nutrition?

Do Microwaves Zap Nutrition? | Daily News About Organic Products | Scoop.it
Organapedia's insight:

Bob Barnett: The rumor: zapping food in a microwave leaches out key nutrients. We've all heard about how microwaving food removes some nutritional value, but is it true? Is something bad happening to our food behind that microwave glass? 

The Verdict: If you do it right, cooking food in the microwave is one of the best ways to retain your food's vitamins and minerals. There are dangers to microwaving your food. You could get scalded, for one. If you use the wrong kind of plastic (hint: one that doesn't say "microwave safe"), unhealthy chemicals could seep into your food. But if you’re concerned about getting the most nutrition out of your eats, microwaving is a safe bet. In fact, it's near the top of the list for nutritionally sound food-preparation methods. If you use your microwave with a small amount of water to essentially steam food from the inside, you’ll retain more vitamins and minerals than with almost any other cooking method.


“Whenever you cook food, you’ll have some loss of nutrients,” says registered dietician and certified food scientist Catherine Adams Hutt, RD, Ph.D. "The best cooking method for retaining nutrients is one that cooks quickly, exposes food to heat for the smallest amount of time and uses only a minimal amount of liquid."

Guess what? Microwave cooking does that. Consider spinach. Boil it on the stove, and it can lose up to 70 percent of its folic acid. Microwave it with just a little water, and you’ll retain nearly all its folic acid. Cooking bacon on a griddle until it’s crispy (yum) can create nitrosamines, while microwaving baconcreates far fewer of these cancer-promoting chemicals. 

Of course, you can mess microwaving up. Dump your veggies in a bunch of water and overcook them, and you’ll leach out plenty of nutrition. “When you cook food in a microwave, cover it tightly, creating an efficient steam environment,” advises Hutt.

Steaming over a stovetop is just as good, though. In some cases, it may even be better: One small study found that steamed broccoli retained more of its cancer-fighting sulforaphane than microwaved broccoli.

But in most cases, using your microwave to cook food, if it’s covered tightly in a microwave-safe container with a minimal amount of liquid, is a nutritional win. In fact, it can even enhance the nutrition of some foods. It makes the carotenoids in tomatoes and carrots more available to our bodies, for example. It makes the biotin in eggs digestible. And heat kills bacteria in food that can make us sick. “From a safety standpoint,” says Hutt, “you don’t want to be eating raw chicken.”

So go ahead and use that microwave. It’s a quick way to essentially steam food from the inside out. You won’t get the aromas that baking or roasting provides, but if you do it right, with just a little bit of water in a tightly-closed microwave-safe container, you’ll be very well nourished. 

(Click on headline to view source.)

No comment yet.
Scooped by Organapedia

The alarming use of pesticides and insecticides

The alarming use of pesticides and insecticides | Daily News About Organic Products | Scoop.it
Organapedia's insight:

Therese Kerr: Here’s some information on insecticides and pesticides from Dr Mercola, food for thought as to why you should consume certified organic and this is only the tip of the iceberg.

“Research has shown that many pesticides are neurotoxic and can cause disruptions to your neurological system and your brain. The reason why neurotoxins still enjoy widespread use on our food supply is really more about the bottom line for farming operations than it is about the science of human health.

Research has clearly and consistently linked pesticide exposure to Parkinson’s disease. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also considers 30 percent of insecticides to be carcinogenic.

All of these toxic chemicals are permitted on farms growing conventional and genetically engineered crops, and a large number of them can end up on your plate when you purchase conventionally-grown fruits and vegetables and/or processed foods.

But pesticides also have a dramatic impact on the health of our ecosystem. Neonicotinoids, such as Imidacloprid and Clothianidin, kill insects by attacking their nervous systems. These are known to get into pollen and nectar, and can damage beneficial insects such as bees.

These toxic chemicals have been implicated as one of the primary culprits in the mass die-offs of bees, and have subsequently been banned in some countries. The United States, however, is not among these countries…

(Click on headline to view full article.)

No comment yet.
Scooped by Organapedia

UK Press: Pesticides in our daily bread

UK Press: Pesticides in our daily bread | Daily News About Organic Products | Scoop.it
Organapedia's insight:

Emily Marquez: It's not exactly a shocker, but a recently released report from the United Kingdom (UK) Health and Safety Executive indicates that yes, there are low levels of pesticides in food commonly found in supermarkets. Seventy-seven percent of the starchy foods tested — including various kinds of bread — contained measurable residues.

Among the pesticides found was the controversial chemical glyphosate, with 23% of cereal bars containing residues of Monsanto's flagship herbicide.

The Pesticide Residues Monitoring Programme releases quarterly reports for pesticide residues in food, including fruits and vegetables. This most recent final report included results on sampling of starchy foods and grains: cereal bars, bread, noodles and wheat samples. The food samples in this group were tested for up to 248 pesticides.

Breaking down the starchy food data

Five kinds of pesticides were found in the starchy food products, with samples taken from five source countries (Belgium, France, Ireland, the Netherlands, and the UK). The greatest number of samples had either organophosphate insecticides (OPs), and/or the two herbicides chlormequat and glyphosate.

Of the food products tested, 75% of the bread products, 90% of cereal bars, and 38% of the noodles had at least one pesticide residue.

While no residues were above the levels considered "safe" in the food products, one herbicide (chlorpropham) was found on raw wheat at a level above the recommended Maximum Residue Level.

Even at low levels..

OPs are known neurotoxicants, and a large number of studies suggest that prenatal exposure to these chemicals may affect children's neurodevelopment and cognitive and motor function.

Rodent studies suggest that fetal exposure to low levels of the OP chlorpyrifos can lead to adverse effects on both organ development and cognition.

The general population is exposed to low concentrations of pesticides through our food and environment throughout our lifetime. It is well understood that these low levels of exposure — in the case of chemicals that have endocrine-disrupting actions like OPs — can adversely impact development and other key processes.

How safe is "safe"?

According to the 2007 EPA Integrated Risk Information System, chlormequat chloride is "slightly toxic to mammals on an acute oral exposure basis."

Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto's RoundUp, has been in the news lately due to its dominance as the top herbicide in this country. While the weight of the evidence on glyphosate has not yet identified major health risks, recent studies have indicated that we should continue to raise questions about this heavily-used herbicide. With so many of us exposed, it never hurts to be cautious.

So, we know we have pesticides in our food, and annual reports from food safety commissions and the like will continue to tell us that. The authors of this latest report tell people in the UK not to worry, as these are levels below what the government says are acceptable.

But when it comes to OPs in particular, I cast a skeptical eye at any level at all being considered "safe."

(Click on headline to view source.)

Camille Fleck's curator insight, January 16, 2014 4:08 AM

Encore une fois, mieux vaut consommer bio...

Scooped by Organapedia

Inflammation: Tame this silent killer with food-based solutions

Inflammation: Tame this silent killer with food-based solutions | Daily News About Organic Products | Scoop.it
Organapedia's insight:

Carolanne Wright: The bane of health, chronic inflammation, is at the root of most disease. Cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, obesity, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, cardiovascular troubles and periodontal issues are all influenced by an overactive inflammatory response. Fortunately, we have a powerful ally against inflammation residing in our kitchen. Through select foods and dietary adjustments, we can subdue this unruly beast and create a solid foundation for a healthy future.

The primary culprit - poor food choices

Inflammation is the body's natural response to injury, helping to heal damage throughout the system. And yet, this mechanism can lead to serious illness when left unchecked. Dietary choices are the number one trigger for an exaggerated inflammatory reaction - especially sugary, high-glycemic and processed carbohydrates. Poor-quality fats like those found in meat and dairy, as well as trans fats in refined vegetable oils, are also problematic. In the scholarly paper "Control of Systemic Inflammation and Chronic Diseases - The Use of Turmeric and Curcuminoids," researcher Stig Bengmark observes:

"The world suffers an epidemic of both critical illness (CI) and chronic diseases (ChDs), and both groups of diseases increase from year to year, and have done so for several decades. It is strongly associated to the modern, so-called Western, lifestyle: stress, lack of exercise, abuse of tobacco and alcohol, and the transition from natural unprocessed foods to processed, calorie-condensed, and heat-treated foods. There is a strong association between reduced intake of plant fibers and plant antioxidants and increased consumption of industrially produced and processed products especially dairy, refined sugars, and starch products and ChDs. Heating up foods such as milk (pasteurization) and production and storage of milk powder produce large amounts of advanced glycation end products (AGEs) and advanced lipid oxidation end products (ALEs), known as potent inducers of inflammation."

Be that as it may, just as the diet can exacerbate inflammation, specific foods can also heal it.

Edible solutions

A number of foods offer exceptional protection against inflammatory reactions. For instance, sulfur compounds found in garlic, and polyphenol antioxidants in green tea, both successfully discourage excessive inflammation. [1][2]

Golden-hued turmeric is another example. In laboratory tests, the anti-inflammatory characteristics of turmeric are effective in mitigating skin, lung and neurodegenerative disorders, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, cataracts and intestinal diseases. [3]

Healthy fats are also important. As an outstanding source of omega-3 fatty acids, sardinesfish oil supplements and wild-caught salmon, or vegetarian options like hemp seedflaxseed and walnuts, provide the building blocks for healthy inflammation levels. [4][5][6] Moreover, oleic acid in olive oil supplies a good measure of anti-inflammatory omega-9 fatty acids. [7]

Don't forget to add a bit of spice to your life. Over 25 years of research on ginger has established the herb as one of the foremost anti-inflammatory foods around. A study in the Journal of Medicinal Food discovered that two ginger extracts, Zingiber officinale and Alpina galanga, inhibit several genes responsible for inflammatory reactions. [8]

And Karen Lamphere, MS, CN, recommends a dash of heat. "Some of the most potent anti-inflammatory vegetables are peppers and the spices derived from them, such as cayenne pepper. All chili peppers include capsaicin (the hotter the pepper, the more capsaicin it has), which is a potent inhibitor of substance P, a neuropeptide associated with inflammatory processes."

Over and above dietary choices, lifestyle options such as reducing stress, detoxifying and exercising regularly contribute to lower inflammation levels too. In the end, sidestepping the risks of this silent killer is a straightforward daily task when armed with whole foods and healthy habits.

(Click on headline to view source and see footnotes.)

No comment yet.
Scooped by Organapedia

Five Ways That Farmers Control Pests Other Than With Pesticides

Five Ways That Farmers Control Pests Other Than With Pesticides | Daily News About Organic Products | Scoop.it
Organapedia's insight:

Steve Savage: There are many pests in the world which attack plants or compete with them for the resources they need to grow.  This is true for plants growing in natural stands, but also for the plants that people grow as crops.  If pests are left unchecked, crop productivity is compromised. 

Without good pest control, it would take a lot more land to feed humanity - land we simply don't have. Pest damage can also compromise the storage or shelf-life of foods leading to more wasteful inefficiencies. Pests can also make foods dangerous through the production of mycotoxins (see contaminated corn below)

Corn infected with Aspergillus flavus can be contaminated

with one of the more toxic and carcinogenic chemicals known

One way that farmers prevent these problems is with the use of pesticides, and this is true in both organic and conventional production systems. However; farmers control pests in many ways other than using pesticides. 

These tools and strategies differ based on the crop and the geography where it is grown, but they include at least the following five categories:

  • Avoiding the pest
  • Finding genetic resistance
  • Modifying the climate
  • Disrupting the pest's life cycle
  • Fostering beneficial organisms

(Click on headline to see the entire article with discussion of each method.)

No comment yet.
Scooped by Organapedia

Is the Monarch Butterfly a GMO Casualty?

Is the Monarch Butterfly a GMO Casualty? | Daily News About Organic Products | Scoop.it
Organapedia's insight:

Bruce E. Boyers: The population of the beloved monarch butterfly has seen a radical decline in the last decade—a trend that, unless something is done, shows no sign of lessening. While there are several contributing factors, chief among them, according to the Center for Food Safety, is the widespread use of Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, which, as it turns out, kills off the monarch’s chief source of nutrition. It is a situation that has put environmentalists—as well as lovers of this incredibly delicate and beautiful species—on high alert.

The Food Source

“At least half of the monarch population breeds in the Midwest, in the Corn Belt,” Bill Freese, Science Policy Analyst for the Center for Food Safety (CFS), explained to Organic Connections.“They mate, they lay eggs, and then they have their larva that feed on milkweed plants. They are completely dependent on milkweed; it’s the only host plant that will support the monarch caterpillars. The caterpillars will feed on the milkweed plant and then they’ll pupate and become butterflies.

“The butterflies then migrate all the way to the mountains of northern Mexico, where they overwinter in a very, very small and confined area.”

Eradication of Milkweed

“There are various causes for the monarch decline; it’s not one thing,” Freese continued. “People focus on the factor of illegal logging that’s taking place in protected forests in Mexico where the butterflies overwinter. However, in the last few years Mexico has really clamped down on that, so it’s much less of an issue now.

“More and more entomologists are seeing a crash in the population of milkweed in the Midwest as the major cause of monarch decline. In 1999 a group of scientists did a very, very careful survey throughout the state of Iowa to see how much milkweed was in the state. They looked at all different habitats—corn and soybean fields as well as conservation reserve land, pastures and on roadsides, because you find milkweed on roadsides. They established how much milkweed there was, and then came back a decade later and did the same thing.

“In that 1999 survey, most milkweed was found in corn and soybean fields. Milkweed is really well adapted to survive in agricultural fields; it has very deep roots and is a perennial plant. In 2009 when they did the second survey, they found that milkweed in agricultural fields had almost been decimated. There’s very, very little of it left.”

Where Did It Go?

To understand what has killed off milkweed in such high quantities, it is important to understand the radical rise in the use of Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, which occurred at the same time.

The beginning of the story is with the genetic modification of crops to make them “Roundup ready”—some of the very first genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Because they were so modified, farmers could spray Roundup herbicide onto these crops without harming them.

“Roundup Ready crops were introduced in 1996,” Freese related. “In 1999, when that first survey was done, this practice was still just getting started. Prior to the advent of Roundup Ready crops, very little glyphosate [Roundup’s active ingredient] was used in the Midwest. That is because glyphosate is very toxic to plants, to crops—corn and soybeans; you can’t spray it.

“With the advent of Roundup Ready crops, there was about a tenfold increase in glyphosate use. It is sprayed in the spring and early summer as crops are beginning to come up, to kill weeds as they start growing, since it won’t harm the Roundup Ready crops. It turns out that spraying Roundup at that time is the perfect time to kill milkweed. Milkweed is most susceptible to glyphosate in the late spring and early summer. It’s very clear that this huge decline in milkweed is due to this huge use of Roundup.”

As a side note, milkweed poses no threat to crops at all, except in a very few isolated instances....

(Click on headline to view the balance of this article.)

No comment yet.
Scooped by Organapedia

Big Food Companies Push to Label Genetically Modified Products as “Natural”

Big Food Companies Push to Label Genetically Modified Products as “Natural” | Daily News About Organic Products | Scoop.it
Organapedia's insight:

Noel Brinkerhoff: Food manufacturers who use genetically modified (GMO) ingredients want permission from the federal government to stamp their products with the word “natural.”

The Grocery Manufacturers Association has asked the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to approve their plan, which would mean any food containing GMO corn, sugar and other such ingredients could be sold as “natural.”

One advocacy organization, the Environmental Working Group (EWG), blasted the food companies’ proposal. Scott Faber, vice president of the EWG, called the association’s request “audacious.”

“It’s like they’re trying to get the government to say night is day and black is white,” Faber toldThe New York Times.

The request comes as food manufacturers are increasingly under attack from opponents of GM ingredients. At least 65 lawsuits are pending in various courts aimed at forcing companies to stop using the word “natural” to describe products with GM elements.

PepsiCo settled one such lawsuit in August over its use of the phrases “All Natural,” “All Natural Fruit” and “Non-GMO” on bottles of Naked Juices. The company said it would remove “All Natural” from the drinks’ packaging and pay consumers $9 million.

However, PepsiCo will still use “non-GMO” on the juices, even though they are not certified as such.

(Click on headline to view source.)

No comment yet.