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The Benefits of Organic Food by André Leu


In the recent past there have been a number of media stories claiming that, because organic foods are grown with manure, they contain higher levels of dangerous pathogens. On investigation, all of these stories were proved to be false, and most of the media presenters apologized publicly for promoting inaccurate and misleading stories. It is a requirement of organic certification systems either that animal manures be composted or that two non-food rotations be grown on a manured site before it can be used for small crops. In fact, a UN Food and Agriculture Organization report concluded that the superior management practices of organic agriculture reduce E. coli and mycotoxin infections in food: "It can be concluded that organic farming potentially reduces the risk of E. coli infection. . . . Two studies reported by Woess found that aflatoxin M1 levels in organic milk were lower than in conventional milk. . . . As organically raised livestock are fed greater proportions of hay, grass and silage, there is reduced opportunity for mycotoxin-contaminated feed to lead to mycotoxin-contaminated milk." The report further stated, "Animal feeding practices followed in organic livestock production also lead to a reduction in contamination of food products of animal origin."

Food Additives

The use of antibiotics, antimicrobials, and hormones or other growth promoters is prohibited in organic production. Where animals are treated with veterinary chemicals, they are not allowed to be sold as organic. Similarly, the use of synthetic chemicals as preservatives, colorings, antioxidants, etc., is prohibited in the processing of organic foods. There is an increasing body of concern about these synthetic compounds in the diets of humans and animals use for human food.

Chemical Residues

Many studies show that most conventionally farmed foods have pesticide and other chemical residues. Repeated tests show that many of these foods can carry a cocktail of synthetic poisons. A growing body of scientific evidence is showing that repeated exposures to cocktails of small amounts of synthetic chemicals produce a range of adverse health effects. A recently published study shows that as little a one-tenth of a part per billion of one commonly used herbicide can damage reproductive systems. In addition, many scientists believe these exposures of minute quantities of agricultural chemicals are very significant for children. A study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control found a cocktail of many toxic chemicals in the blood and urine of most Americans that they tested. Other studies show that most living organisms carry a cocktail of synthetic/manmade chemicals. Only now are scientists beginning to understand the detrimental effects of minute amounts of these artificial toxins.

Peer-reviewed, published research has demonstrated that many of these types of chemicals are known to disrupt the hormone, nervous and immune systems. The escalating increase of certain types of cancers such as lymphoma, leukemia, breast, uterine and prostate cancers are linked to agricultural and other synthetic chemicals. Similarly, a good body of scientific research also links these chemicals to dramatic increases in autoimmune diseases such as asthma and chronic fatigue syndrome, and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma has gone from being one of the rarest to one of the fastest growing cancers among people exposed to agricultural chemicals.

A detailed scientific analysis of organic fruits and vegetables published in the peer-reviewed journal Food Additives and Contaminants showed that organic foods have significantly less pesticide residues than conventionally grown foods.

Most important, scientific studies are beginning to show that eating organic food results in lower levels of these pervasive chemicals in humans. A study published in the peer reviewed journal Environmental Health Perspectives found that children who eat organic foods have lower levels of one class of agricultural pesticides in their bodies. The University of Washington researchers who conducted the study concluded, "The dose estimates suggest that consumption of organic fruits, vegetables, and juice can reduce children's exposure levels from above to below the EPA's current guidelines, thereby shifting exposures from a range of uncertain risk to a range of negligible risk. Consumption of organic produce appears to provide a relatively simple way for parents to reduce their children's exposure to OP pesticides."

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