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Organic* Food

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Organic* Food
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Aught3ModeratorUser avatarPosts: 4290Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2009 3:36 amLocation: New Zealand Gender: Male

Post Organic* Food

Since we were derailing the homeopathy thread and organic farming will probably provoke some interesting discussion, I thought it would be a good idea to start a new thread.

Organic farming is basically farming without using synthetic chemicals, fertilisers, or organisms (i.e., GMOs). The idea is to use natural alternatives which are supposedly better in some way. From my point of view organic farming is one big naturalistic fallacy. (*It doesn't refer to C's and H's, stupidly)

The food that is produced on an organic farm is identical to food produced on a normal farm except that growing organically requires more acreage to produce the same amount of food. A recent review found no significant difference between the nutritional value of conventional vs. organic food [1]. The only factor in the health section that I am not sure about is the pesticides and herbicides. Obviously both organic and conventional farmers have to use sprays in order to control insects and weeds, but they do use different types. As far as I am aware both types of chemical sprays have to be tested for safety before they can be used. I have seen no evidence that would suggest natural sprays are safer than synthetic ones. I am aware that the natural fungicides used by organic farmers are less effective than those used by convential farmers. This means mycotoxins are found at higher levels in organic cereal products like maize flour [2].

Although it is subjective, in the "street stall" tests that I have seen, people are unable to taste the difference between organic and convential food. I think the idea that organic food tastes better is psychological. I'm willing to grant that food you grow yourself may taste better than food brought in a shop due to the freshness and ability to pick after the food has fully ripened. However, this doesn't extend to a big organic farm vs. a big conventional farm. The food still has to be harvested en masse and transported to various distribution centers. People want the food to taste better so it does. Take a look at this video from about 1:30 onwards: It challenges my conception of bananas

The only thing that I can see organic farming has going for it is that it tries to be more sustainable. I think most people would prefer if all our production was more sustainable. However, many of the claims that are made for organic farming are clearly pseudoscientific, at best.


[1] Organic 'has no health benefits'
[2] Toxin sparks organic scare
Wanderer, there is no path, the path is made by walking.
Sat Aug 29, 2009 11:19 am
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FingerUser avatarPosts: 354Joined: Thu Feb 26, 2009 7:13 amLocation: California

Post Re: Organic* Food

Continuing:

I wrote:As an organic farmer, I can tell you that there's no real benefit to organic farming over "inorganic" farming.


Giliell wrote:-According to US-studies, there are less pesticide-derivates in the urine of children who eat only organic food (http://www.saarbruecker-zeitung.de/sz-b ... 25,2994535)

Of course pesticides will be present in food that has been sprayed with pesticides. The question is "are pesticides safe for human consumption?" And even that depends on the type of pesticide. Ironically, most synthetic pesticides are safer than so called "organic" ones. But most people just assume that they're all bad because "its got chemicals."

Giliell wrote:-Animals are usually better kept. No, no sympathy for Peta, but I think it's a shame what we do to most lifestock.

We don't keep livestock, so I wouldn't know first-hand. But "organic chicken" doesn't necessarily mean that it roams free in a meadow with the sun shining. "Organic" for livestock just means that there weren't any steroids used. You can have freerange chickens that are doped up and you can have a caged chicken that are clean (though it probably wouldn't have very good meat.)

Giliell wrote:-If you buy organic grown exotic food you can't be sure that the workers are propperly treated and paid, but you can at least be sure that they're not poisoned by having to deal with pesticides without having training nor protective clothing

Small-scale organic farmers are the most likely to employ underpaid illegal immigrants. They don't make enough money to pay a proper workforce and they're small enough to not attract the attention of the INS (Hell, most of the time they don't attract the attention of the IRS.) Its also important to note that organic farming is a lot more labor intensive with regular, manual weeding and the sorting out of all the rotted and half-eaten plants (about 60% of my family's crop this year wasn't fit for market.)

Giliell wrote:-It tastes better.

Bollocks.

Giliell wrote:Especially in somewhat processed food, organic food has less aditives, and some of the stuff added to conventional food is simply poison.
I'm a big "read the ingredients" person. If something that I know only contains about 4 ingredients if you make it yourself and about 40 if you buy it, then there's something wrong. Just for the fun of it I just took an organic vanilla-yoghurt out of the fridge and it contains: yoghurt, sugar, vanilla. At your next stop at the supermarket, take a normal one and start reading. Make sure to arrive early or at a 24/7 supermarket.

You're talking about canned/preserved food here. Whether its organic or inorganic, raw produce and meat wouldn't have any preservatives in it.

All and all, I see organic food as a luxury. If the privileged want to pay more for less food or keep a garden in their back yard, then they can certainly do that. But when they go around saying that we should stop using pesticides and steroids alltogether, they're just being unrealistic. Perhaps they'll volunteer to be the first to starve to death.
Artist for Red Oasis
Sat Aug 29, 2009 11:27 am
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Aught3ModeratorUser avatarPosts: 4290Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2009 3:36 amLocation: New Zealand Gender: Male

Post Re: Organic* Food

Oh btw Giliell, that article on pesticide derivatives sounded quite interesting, but I'm ashamed to admit I don't read German. Got anything for us linguistically challenged folks?
Wanderer, there is no path, the path is made by walking.
Sat Aug 29, 2009 11:47 am
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GiliellUser avatarPosts: 1218Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 7:29 am Gender: Female

Post Re: Organic* Food

Aught3 wrote:Oh btw Giliell, that article on pesticide derivatives sounded quite interesting, but I'm ashamed to admit I don't read German. Got anything for us linguistically challenged folks?


Sorry, no
I did a quick google search but couldn't find it. As it's just a regional newspaper (no tabloid), it didn't give the name of the study or the university that conducted it :( I can only take their word for it.
BTW it's a hell lot of work to re-find all the information in English :lol:

Of course pesticides will be present in food that has been sprayed with pesticides. The question is "are pesticides safe for human consumption?" And even that depends on the type of pesticide. Ironically, most synthetic pesticides are safer than so called "organic" ones. But most people just assume that they're all bad because "its got chemicals."

Nay, I'm not one of those people.
But I'm married to a chemist, which gives me more insight into chemistry than I ever wanted to have.
The problem with the current pesticide regulations (at least in Europe) are the following:
-What is deemed safe is always a compromise between what farmers want and what scientists say.
-The amount is always set for a single pesticide, but practise shows that farmers then tend to use multiple pesticides, all just under the limit. And in chemistry a mixture doesn't equal the effects of the single ingredients, a mixture can go boom.
- Conventionally grown food is less tested than organic food.
I can't access the whole article but this excerpt indicates that organic food has way less pesticides than conventional food. (http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/conten ... a713811051) This is also the result that regular tests give. In Germany there are two organisations. One is called "Goods testing foundation" (Stiftung Warentest), the other one is called "Organic Testing" (Ökotest) They are rivals, and usually the former one is more rrelaxed about chemicals and such, but both, in testing food usually come to the same result: while conventional food often borders on the limits for pesticides and sometimes tops them, while organic food mostly only has traces.
So, if all those pesticides are regulated by the same agency and one has a lot of them while the other one has barely any, and we know that in larger quantities those pesticides are bad for us, why not take the safe approach?

We don't keep livestock, so I wouldn't know first-hand. But "organic chicken" doesn't necessarily mean that it roams free in a meadow with the sun shining. "Organic" for livestock just means that there weren't any steroids used. You can have freerange chickens that are doped up and you can have a caged chicken that are clean (though it probably wouldn't have very good meat.)

Ah, we're comparing apples and oranges again, since I'm talking about Europe and you're talking about the USA.
Here's part of the European legislation on livestock. Not the best and most strict there could be, but nevertheless quite clear on caged chicken not being organic:

Organic stock farming should ensure that specific behavioural
needs of animals are met. In this regard, housing for
all species of livestock should satisfy the needs of the
animals concerned as regards ventilation, light, space and
comfort and sufficient area should accordingly be provided
to permit ample freedom of movement for each animal and
to develop the animal's natural social behaviour. Specific
housing conditions and husbandry practices with regard to
certain animals, including bees, should be laid down. These
specific housing conditions should serve a high level of
animal welfare, which is a priority in organic livestock
farming and therefore may go beyond Community welfare
standards which apply to farming in general. Organic
husbandry practices should prevent poultry from being
reared too quickly. Therefore specific provisions to avoid
intensive rearing methods should be laid down. In
particular poultry shall either be reared until they reach a
minimum age or else shall come from slow-growing
poultry strains, so that in either case there is no incentive to use intensive rearing methods.

In most cases, livestock should have permanent access to
open air areas for grazing, weather conditions permitting,
and such open air areas should in principle be organised
under an appropriate system of rotation.


Small-scale organic farmers are the most likely to employ underpaid illegal immigrants. They don't make enough money to pay a proper workforce and they're small enough to not attract the attention of the INS (Hell, most of the time they don't attract the attention of the IRS.)


Ah, again, different situations. In Europe, the situation is diffderent again. Most illegal immigrants in Spain will work in conventional farms, under terrible conditions and of course with no access to health care or means to complain about having to handle poisons. Small article about their working conditions
And of course there are the fruits comming from countries where there aren't even any regulations about pesticide usage.

OK, more later, kid's calling

OK, part II

You're talking about canned/preserved food here. Whether its organic or inorganic, raw produce and meat wouldn't have any preservatives in it.

No, of course not.
But even though I'm very fond of home-made food, you simply can't make it all yourself. So I buy muy bread and my yoghurt and my pasta and my ham/sausage/cheese and of course the occasional frozen pizza and such. So you'll inevitably buy that stuff and the normal kind has a lot of stuff added. And buying organic food is the only way to avaid that.
Go to heaven, we don't want you in hell with us!
Most people don't object to discrimination and oppression as such, they only object to being at the receiving end
Sat Aug 29, 2009 12:49 pm
borrofburiModeratorPosts: 3527Joined: Sun Jul 26, 2009 5:27 pm Gender: Male

Post Re: Organic* Food

Aught3 wrote:A recent review found no significant difference between the nutritional value of conventional vs. organic food


Hmm... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I-t-7lTw6mA
Sat Aug 29, 2009 3:25 pm
paradigm667User avatarPosts: 98Joined: Sun Aug 09, 2009 5:13 amLocation: Arizona

Post Re: Organic* Food

The problem here is that just referring to food as "organic" means very little today. The organic standard has been degraded so much so that conventional farming only has to change a few things in order to be considered "organic".

But if we talk about truly organic, meaning, grown without use of any industrial chemicals whatsoever (be they conventional or "organic")...by the way all chemicals are made using "organic chemistry" so they can ALL be considered "organic." It's a joke.

Organic means you plant the damn non-GMO seed in the ground, you use natural fertilizers like compost, or you fix the soil with legume plants beforehand, you water with clean water, you don't use any artificial means to keep pests away, you do it using proper growing techniques and by using natural means of keeping the pests away (such as physical obstruction, growing antagonist plants near plants that may have pests interested in them, using natural compounds not derived in a chem lab to keep pests away, like certain extracts of certain plants used as sprays. You let the plants ripen in situ, and you don't do things like pick them weeks before they are fully ripe and then gas them with ethylene to have them mimic the effects of the natural ripening process.

You wanna measure a gassed tomato vs. a locally grown soil ripened tomato and you will very quickly notice a taste difference and a huge difference in nutrient quality.
I eat raw fruits and veggies and I can tell you for sure, 100% there is a taste difference between conventionally grown produce and truly organic produce. And I mean TRULY organic, not "USDA organic" which is just a scam trying to pass itself off as organic to sell people on a word.

And then the researchers are given "USDA organic" produce to compare it to conventional and, well, because they are basically one and the same thing, the researchers conclude that it's no different. Indeed they are right. But "USDA organic" and "TRULY organic" are two different things.

The truth gets lost in the details and fine print.
And no, pesticides are not "ok" to be ingested. Pesticides act on the central nervous system of the insects often times. They do the same thing to us, there is no doubt about it, the argument is "well, they are in such small amount that it may not matter." This may be true.
In fact, plants do not typically retain pesticides too well due to their lack of FAT, where the pesticides are typically found. However, there is still the negative effect of the pesticides seeping into the soil and disrupting the bacteria in the soil which nourishes the plants and thus can be an issue. Indeed though, it is the ANIMAL foods that contain over 90% of all pesticide/chemical residues which we are exposed to. This is why I recommend for people who are worried about pesticides not to eat organic, but rather, to simply cut out animal foods. That eliminates 90% of your exposure.

And I would actually change the question that someone posted above. The question isn't "are pesticides bad for us." First of all we know they are not good for us. We know they can be bad for us, and therefore that's enough to take the precautionary measure of not wanting to ingest them.
But the real question anyways is "do we need them to grow food?"

http://www.southcentralfarmers.com/inde ... &Itemid=63
Sat Aug 29, 2009 9:40 pm
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Aught3ModeratorUser avatarPosts: 4290Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2009 3:36 amLocation: New Zealand Gender: Male

Post Re: Organic* Food

borrofburi wrote:Hmm... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I-t-7lTw6mA
Regardless, the metastudy still shows that when measured by nutrient content (the way organic food proponents make their 'healthier' claims) organic food is no better for you than conventional food.

You wanna measure a gassed tomato vs. a locally grown soil ripened tomato and you will very quickly notice ... a huge difference in nutrient quality.
See?

Btw, did anyone else notice the sensible post from paradigm?
Wanderer, there is no path, the path is made by walking.
Sat Aug 29, 2009 10:15 pm
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paradigm667User avatarPosts: 98Joined: Sun Aug 09, 2009 5:13 amLocation: Arizona

Post Re: Organic* Food

But Aught3,

If you read me correctly, I said that indeed when we compare "conventional" produce to "USDA organic" you will find little difference.

But if you measure homegrown or TRULY organic produce vs conventional (or USDA organic for that matter), there will be a difference. Unfortunately all the big studies are done on this kind of faux organic foods, which is a shame. BUT, even in those cases, the conventional foods aren't so bad nutrient-wise. The problem is the chemical residues all over them. Which there IS a difference.

Forget about all the issues regarding sustainability, unknown side effects, etc...

If you doubt that there are more nutrients in sustainable TRULY organic foods vs. conventional, let me know and I'll point you in the direction of the info. :-)
Sat Aug 29, 2009 11:42 pm
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Aught3ModeratorUser avatarPosts: 4290Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2009 3:36 amLocation: New Zealand Gender: Male

Post Re: Organic* Food

paradigm667 wrote:If you doubt that there are more nutrients in sustainable TRULY organic foods vs. conventional, let me know and I'll point you in the direction of the info.
Nah, that's alright I wasn't responding to your post in any way. I was making the point to borr that organic food proponents will put their claims of healthier foods in terms of nutrition, your post was fortuitously timed for my purposes.
Wanderer, there is no path, the path is made by walking.
Sat Aug 29, 2009 11:56 pm
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paradigm667User avatarPosts: 98Joined: Sun Aug 09, 2009 5:13 amLocation: Arizona

Post Re: Organic* Food

Fair enough.

So just for the record, are you opposed to organic food? Or are you just not a huge proponent of it?
Sun Aug 30, 2009 12:35 am
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Aught3ModeratorUser avatarPosts: 4290Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2009 3:36 amLocation: New Zealand Gender: Male

Post Re: Organic* Food

paradigm667 wrote:So just for the record, are you opposed to organic food? Or are you just not a huge proponent of it?
Well good question. I wouldn't say I was an opponent of organic food but it is true that I am not a fan :D

A lot of the benefits claimed for organic food often have to do with ethical farming practices. Paying workers fair wages, treating animals as humanely as practical, sustainability, and farm safety.These are the measures that I support. I am also for people growing their own food, this is probably my own bias as I like to get into the garden.

The problem I have with organic food is the pseudoscientific claims about big farming practices. Both conventional and organic farms require pesticides and chemical fertilisers that have been tested and shown to be safe and effective. The difference is chemicals for organic farms have to be 'natural' and are therefore the less effective versions. This means that less food grows per acre (as Finger gave a firsthand account of) and this pushes up the price. Proponents of organic food are usually well-fed and are advocating a position which will lead to a decrease in worldwide food production. Given that millions of people starve to death each year I cannot support these less effective organic agricultural practices.

As well as paying more for the food there is no evidence to suggest that it is any better for you and can actually contain high levels of mycotoxins (see my OP). Additionaly, there has never been a confirmed death caused by pesticide residue on fruit or vegetables. Conventional farming produces safe, nutritious, and delicious food in greater abundance than organic farming. Conventional farms could take some lessons in ethics from organic farmers but clearly conventional farmers should stick with what works best in terms of synthetic fertilisers, pesticides, and GMOs.
Wanderer, there is no path, the path is made by walking.
Sun Aug 30, 2009 1:00 am
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paradigm667User avatarPosts: 98Joined: Sun Aug 09, 2009 5:13 amLocation: Arizona

Post Re: Organic* Food

Aught3,

I think I understand you position. I do think that the notion that organic food cannot be sustainable or feed the world is erroneous and I'll tell you why.
Number one I do see a much larger issue with distribution of food than anything. We can produce all the food we want, for instance we have silos and silos filled to the brim with grain that can be distributed to Africa for instance. Why doesn't this happen then? Simple. Growing more food has very little to do with who gets it.

Number two I think in other places in the world, they are often times developing countries which are subjected to unfair injunctions imposed by the world bank and IMF. It works something like this:
IMF/World Bank gives out a loan to a country. The country uses it to try and start an economy, but soon it needs to pay back the money. The IMF says "hey, you owe us our money back, with interest (which is often times astronomical)." The country says "ok, can I pay you back by growing crops?"
"Sure," says the IMF
"Can I pay you back growing foodstuff crops like corn, or grains, or veggies that can also feed our people?"
"No," says the IMF, "We only accept tobacco, rubber, cotton and coffee and tea at this time."
"Well, ok. Can you give me fair market value for it though?"
"No," says the IMF "We will give you very little for it, because nobody else will buy from you and therefore market value of your crops is not the same as it would be in other areas of the world."

And so the country is screwed, forced to overproduce crops it needs least, cannot produce crops it needs most, and thus...well, just take a look at these areas and now you can see what is happening to them and why they are starving.

Number three there is really little evidence that conventional food actually helps with yields. Often times the difference is negligible, and furthermore, is not even the issue as I demonstrated in points one and two. The issues are distribution issues, and also what these impoverished areas are even allowed to grow for trade. It keeps them down.
But there are many scholarly publications which have analyzed the productivity of organic in comparison to conventional foods and have indeed concluded that organic is the way to go. There is no drastic decrease in production, and in some cases it is even MORE viable to grow organically than conentionally.
http://journals.cambridge.org/action/di ... id=1091304

From Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems (2007), 22:86-108 Cambridge University Press
Copyright ,© Cambridge University Press 2007:
The principal objections to the proposition that organic agriculture can contribute significantly to the global food supply are low yields and insufficient quantities of organically acceptable fertilizers. We evaluated the universality of both claims. For the first claim, we compared yields of organic versus conventional or low-intensive food production for a global dataset of 293 examples and estimated the average yield ratio (organic:non-organic) of different food categories for the developed and the developing world. For most food categories, the average yield ratio was slightly <1.0 for studies in the developed world and >1.0 for studies in the developing world. With the average yield ratios, we modeled the global food supply that could be grown organically on the current agricultural land base. Model estimates indicate that organic methods could produce enough food on a global per capita basis to sustain the current human population, and potentially an even larger population, without increasing the agricultural land base. We also evaluated the amount of nitrogen potentially available from fixation by leguminous cover crops used as fertilizer. Data from temperate and tropical agroecosystems suggest that leguminous cover crops could fix enough nitrogen to replace the amount of synthetic fertilizer currently in use. These results indicate that organic agriculture has the potential to contribute quite substantially to the global food supply, while reducing the detrimental environmental impacts of conventional agriculture. Evaluation and review of this paper have raised important issues about crop rotations under organic versus conventional agriculture and the reliability of grey-literature sources. An ongoing dialogue on these subjects can be found in the Forum editorial of this issue.


I will agree with you though, that many uninformed hippy-types, who know very little about anything other than to just blurt out that if it's not "natural" it must not be healthy, are idiots.
I do not support organic foods because I have some philosophy or belief. I exercise the precautionary principle, I also read the science, I am weary of chemical residues (whether or not they are proven harmful is not my concern because for instance thalidomide was at one time not "proven to be harmful" and yet we all know what a catastrophe that was). The less and less we can use chemicals on our foods the better. I have no problem using chemicals when they have a very low probability of getting into our bodies. We know enough to know that our bodies are very sensitive to many chemicals. Some more than others, granted. But by no means should we be angry at those who do not wish to consume foods that may have chemical residue (industrial chemicals I am referring to of course).

You might wanna check out an MP3 floating around the internet called "Why Africa is Starving" By Charlie Kimber.

It gives you a better perspective on these issues.

Peace
Sun Aug 30, 2009 2:18 am
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HomunclusUser avatarPosts: 195Joined: Fri May 01, 2009 9:15 pm

Post Re: Organic* Food

Aught3 wrote:The only thing that I can see organic farming has going for it is that it tries to be more sustainable. I think most people would prefer if all our production was more sustainable. However, many of the claims that are made for organic farming are clearly pseudoscientific, at best.

Personally, I always heard this as their main selling point. The non-usage of chemicals as opposed to a cycle of cultures, prevents soil degradation, desertification and water pollution. Also it can be used to promote biodiversity by promoting new ecosystems as opposed to simply destroying them (this is done by maintaining the traditional cultures of a certain region of course).

The one thing that I disagree with is the fact that it doesn't use GMO.
Sun Aug 30, 2009 3:17 am
paradigm667User avatarPosts: 98Joined: Sun Aug 09, 2009 5:13 amLocation: Arizona

Post Re: Organic* Food

I think GMO foods are interesting, but, I think there is not enough testing, there are some people who under no circumstances would want to eat GMO foods and the general trend that is as follows:
GMO foods are sold as a means to feed the world and increase crops.
As I stated above, feeding the world has nothing to do with increasing yields, so GMO is useless for that.

GMO foods are sold as being able to do things like withstand cold/frost or produce more. While there seems to be evidence that the cold/frost resistance is possible it is hardly noteworthy, and is not really even being used. The idea than GMO crops produce more than non-GMO is unfounded.
In reality what GMO crops are, is basically crops that are designed to withstand pesticide use. And then we get into the whole question of "Do we really need to use pesticides?"
The answer is no.

So, that is the reason why many organic growers won't use GMO. It's because the only REAL use of GMO foods is to be able to spray them with chemicals. It is diametrically opposed to sustainability. GMO foods are a form of a con trick. Read the following publications:

GM Crops Increase Pesticide Use
"Many farmers have had to spray more herbicides on GM acres in order to keep up with shifts in weeds toward tougher-to-control species, coupled with the emergence of genetic resistance in certain weed populations.

"For years weed scientists have warned that heavy reliance on herbicide tolerant crops would trigger ecological changes in farm fields that would incrementally erode the technology's effectiveness. It now appears that this process began in 2001 in the United States in the case of herbicide tolerant crops," said Benbrook."


Do GM Crops Increase Yield? The Answer Is No
"Lies, damn lies, and the Monsanto website. Tell a lie a hundred times, and the chances are that it will eventually appear to be true. When it comes to genetically modified crops, Monsanto makes such an effort, and it could be that you too are duped into accepting their distortions as truth."

Genetically Modified Crops Report 2008 finds pesticide use increasing
"Genetically Modified (GM) crops have led to a massive increase in pesticide use and have failed to increase yields or tackle world hunger and poverty, a new report by Friends of the Earth reveals today The report coincides with the annual release of biotech industry figures on GM crop cultivation around the world.
Friends of the Earth's annual Genetically Modified report for 2007, 'Who Benefits from GM Crops', found that far from reducing the need for pesticides, GM crops which are herbicide tolerant actually allow farmers to use more frequent doses of weed killing herbicides without risk to the cash crop."


GM crops linked to rise in pesticide use
"Eight years of planting genetically modified maize, cotton and soya beans in the US has significantly increased the amount of herbicides and pesticides used, according to a US report which could influence the British government over whether to let GM crops be grown.
The most comprehensive study yet made of chemical use on genetically modified crops draws on US government data collected since commercialisation of the crops began.

It appears to undermine one of the central selling points of GM farming - that the crops benefit the environment because they need fewer manmade agrochemicals."


So you see, by supporting GMO, you are directly supporting all those things you said you wanted to support:
"The non-usage of chemicals as opposed to a cycle of cultures, prevents soil degradation, desertification and water pollution. Also it can be used to promote biodiversity by promoting new ecosystems as opposed to simply destroying them (this is done by maintaining the traditional cultures of a certain region of course)."

Do you see how these are basically diametrically opposed?

Peace
Sun Aug 30, 2009 6:04 pm
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GiliellUser avatarPosts: 1218Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 7:29 am Gender: Female

Post Re: Organic* Food

Now, Sunday Eve, kid in bed, time for posting

Giliell wrote:-It tastes better.


Bollocks.


OK, I should have been more clear. It mostly applies to meat. As I stated in the other post, organic livestock farming here usually means free range slower growth animals. Makes tastier meat. Conventionally produced meat often tastes like wet paper. More traditionally reared non-organic animals taste more or less the same, but are hard to come by.
Problem for me is: You can only have the extremes:
Highly doped tasteless meat and processed food that has more to do with chemistry than biology or organic meat and stuff.
I'm not a fanatic, I think I could be happy with a middle-way. No preventive drugs and room and meadows for animals and I don't mind much if they get conventionally raised crops in winter. But if I can't have it, I'd rather stick to organic meat.
Less but higher quality more or less balances out the price difference.


Amazing how fast we arrived at GMOs
More amazing, I agree with Paradigm

They pose several problems to me:

First: Safety
Not only for human consumption, but also for the environement. usually no tests are run or can be run to see how they interact with non GMOs in the wild and what damage they could do.

Second: big business
The big companies like Monsanto, BASF, Bayer use their economic power to push them through and practically force them on farmers.
Their policy is devastating, especially in India.
Here's a clip about the suicides of cotton-farmers in India, especially after the introduction of Monsanto's BT-cotton

Third: less data to support any need for GMO than organic food ever had
Go to heaven, we don't want you in hell with us!
Most people don't object to discrimination and oppression as such, they only object to being at the receiving end
Sun Aug 30, 2009 8:46 pm
paradigm667User avatarPosts: 98Joined: Sun Aug 09, 2009 5:13 amLocation: Arizona

Post Re: Organic* Food

OK, I should have been more clear. It mostly applies to meat.

Indeed, when I was still eating meat I could taste a difference without question. But beyond that is the fact that all of these chemical residues tend to not really be an issue with plants as much as they are with animal foods and that is because animals have a whole lot of fat which is where these chemicals are found, and bioaccumulate.
I eat basically only vegan foods and so I don't worry too much about organic or conventional, although, if I could afford it, I would certainly prefer organic fruit and veggies.

What I do is stick to the generally sensible principles of choose organic plant foods that are most likely to be contaminated with pesticides. And go with conventional (or whatever is cheapest) for the plants than are not associated with having high residue.

The Environmental Working Group has released a list of the top 15 plant foods least likely to contain residues and the bottom 12 that are most likely to contain these residues.

The Dirty Dozen
Peaches and apples topped the Dirty Dozen list. Almost 97 percent of peaches tested positive for pesticides, and almost 87 percent had two or more pesticide residues. About 92 percent of apples tested positive, and 79 percent had two or more pesticides. The rest of the Dirty Dozen include sweet bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, pears, imported grapes, spinach, lettuce, and potatoes.

The Clean Fifteen
Onions, avocados, and sweet corn headed the Consistently Clean list. For all three foods, more than 90 percent of the samples tested had no detectable pesticide residues. Others on the Consistently Clean list include pineapples, mango, asparagus, sweet peas, kiwi, bananas, cabbage, broccoli, and papaya.

I have to admit it is surprising that asparagus and broccoli are associated with low levels of the pesticides, as they are not peeled, or grow in ways that are protected from coming into contact with chemical residue. The rest make sense. Any foods that you eat the peel or grow on or close to the ground I always try and go organic but things like bananas or mangoes or papaya, I honestly am not as concerned about.
But, I do see a future where hopefully we do away with chemical fertilizer and we find ways to better mimic the conditions in nature that provide the plants with natural health and defenses against pests.
For now we have to make the best choices that are available though.
Sun Aug 30, 2009 10:40 pm
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RichardMNixonUser avatarPosts: 1047Joined: Thu Jul 30, 2009 8:45 pmLocation: USA Gender: Pinecone

Post Re: Organic* Food

A friend of mine in biochemistry was a huge supporter of organic meats specifically on the grounds that treating them with a constant feed of antibiotics was basically breeding antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

This article seems to suggest otherwise though. Has anyone else heard about this idea?
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Mon Aug 31, 2009 3:23 am
Aught3ModeratorUser avatarPosts: 4290Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2009 3:36 amLocation: New Zealand Gender: Male

Post Re: Organic* Food

Paradigm, your posts on this topic have been thought provoking and fairly reasonable. However, thinking about it I have decided not to engage in a discussion with you. Due to your performances in other threads I think it would be a waste of my time.

Giliell, I think I will have to bow to your European expertise on the question of organic vs. conventional meat. In New Zealand all of the cattle and sheep are raised on pasture, and I have no idea whether there would be a difference between doped meat and free-range. Although I still think that most of the benefits you are extolling fall under ethical farming practices than anything to do with the organic label, I can appreciate it might be easier to use the organic label as a way to identify better tasting, free-range meat.

GMOs
GMOs, of course, have to undergo extensive safety tests before they are approved for the market. These tests are much more stringent than those placed on plants that are breed by traditional methods. The exact series of tests depends on the trait that has been modified but the idea is to prove that nutritional they are identical to conventional crops. Allegenicity, toxicity, and the safety of the proteins produced by the transgenes are also tested.

Other tests that are done on all commercial GM plants (not just those for food) include assessments of 'weediness' (how likely the plant is to become an invasive species, out-crossing potential, and distance of pollen drift. These field trials take years to complete, even longer if the crops get torn up by some activist group. Some GM crops have failed these tests. One example is the GM soy bean with a brazil nut gene, the seeds that had been stored up were not sold to farmers but were destroyed.

There are many reasons why GM crops are beneficial. One of the traits most often conferred is resistance to herbicide. Perhaps counter-intuitively, this allows farmers to use less herbicide on the crop to kill nearby weeds. Another common trait is pest-resistance like Bt corn. This trait kills some of the common pests which means less pesticides need to be sprayed onto the crops. Other traits that are improved include better nutrition and tolerance to environmental stress so the crops can grow successfully on marginal land.

RichardMNixon, it seems reasonable to suspect that constantly feeding antibiotics would select for antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria. However, as long as they aren't overused I would rather use a limited amount of antibiotics and end up with less bacteria in the final product than not using them at all.

As to the paper you found, both the 'natural' and 'organic' farming methods do not use antibiotics so you would expect the numbers of bacteria to be the same. Using antibiotics doesn't cause antibiotic resistance it just selects for the trait that is already present within the population. Depending on the conditions that the animals were raised in they could have easily picked up the antibiotic-resistant bacteria from other cows or their food/water supply.
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Mon Aug 31, 2009 5:05 am
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GiliellUser avatarPosts: 1218Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 7:29 am Gender: Female

Post Re: Organic* Food

Aught3 wrote:
Giliell, I think I will have to bow to your European expertise on the question of organic vs. conventional meat. In New Zealand all of the cattle and sheep are raised on pasture, and I have no idea whether there would be a difference between doped meat and free-range. Although I still think that most of the benefits you are extolling fall under ethical farming practices than anything to do with the organic label, I can appreciate it might be easier to use the organic label as a way to identify better tasting, free-range meat.

As I said, at the moment here you have either or. I'd be probably happy with something I'd call "responsible farming", to find a middle-way.

GMOs
GMOs, of course, have to undergo extensive safety tests before they are approved for the market. These tests are much more stringent than those placed on plants that are breed by traditional methods. The exact series of tests depends on the trait that has been modified but the idea is to prove that nutritional they are identical to conventional crops. Allegenicity, toxicity, and the safety of the proteins produced by the transgenes are also tested.

Other tests that are done on all commercial GM plants (not just those for food) include assessments of 'weediness' (how likely the plant is to become an invasive species, out-crossing potential, and distance of pollen drift. These field trials take years to complete, even longer if the crops get torn up by some activist group. Some GM crops have failed these tests. One example is the GM soy bean with a brazil nut gene, the seeds that had been stored up were not sold to farmers but were destroyed.

There's something I have my doubts about.
I saw a documentary a while ago about the exact same point and it said that those tests were lax at the best. They said that when the crops were fed to rats, the papers published were not matching the standard for normal peer reviewed studies and when other scientists wanted to look at the raw data they weren't allowed to.
They also showed that they could find the modified genes in remote comunities in the Andes, where corn originates from and that those hybrids were more or less useless.
I'm also, from a pure common sense point of view, curious about how they try to simulate an entire ecosystem with its millions and millions of variables in a lab to say that they are really, really sure the GMO doesn't cause any harm.
Again, I know "I watched a documentary" is not a good source, but I have a good memory and use all the information I ever got to make up my mind.
On the issue of "safety tests are run" there's a recent example about a Bayer pesticide that also passed all those tests...
...and proved to be a deadly to millions and millions of honey bees, one of the most important species in our argriculture:
French Government claims Bayer responsible for bee death

There are many reasons why GM crops are beneficial. One of the traits most often conferred is resistance to herbicide. Perhaps counter-intuitively, this allows farmers to use less herbicide on the crop to kill nearby weeds. Another common trait is pest-resistance like Bt corn. This trait kills some of the common pests which means less pesticides need to be sprayed onto the crops. Other traits that are improved include better nutrition and tolerance to environmental stress so the crops can grow successfully on marginal land.

You should read at least the last article paradigm linked on this issue, since the guardian is a fairly, if not unbiased, then at least a fairly reliable source for the raw information.
GMO doesn't mean less pesticides in the long run. It means more pesticides in the long run.

RichardMNixon, it seems reasonable to suspect that constantly feeding antibiotics would select for antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria. However, as long as they aren't overused I would rather use a limited amount of antibiotics and end up with less bacteria in the final product than not using them at all.

As to the paper you found, both the 'natural' and 'organic' farming methods do not use antibiotics so you would expect the numbers of bacteria to be the same. Using antibiotics doesn't cause antibiotic resistance it just selects for the trait that is already present within the population. Depending on the conditions that the animals were raised in they could have easily picked up the antibiotic-resistant bacteria from other cows or their food/water supply.


Tschaka, found the study about the eggs:
Same amount of bacteria in organic and conventional eggs, but less antibiotics resistance in the organic eggs:
http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/jour ... 1&SRETRY=0
No, antibiotics don't cause resistance the same way cold weather doesn't cause long fur.
But:
A: it selects for a trait. It changes a status quo, where 99.99% of the bacteria might be combated by the antibiotic and your body can deal with the rest of the 00.01% to a different "equilibrium" of maybe 50:50 or 0.01 to 99.99 and now we're in trouble.
B: It also increases chances for new mutations to be benefical and therefore selected for. So we can clearly link a high usage of antibiotics to resistant bacteria.
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Mon Aug 31, 2009 8:41 am
Aught3ModeratorUser avatarPosts: 4290Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2009 3:36 amLocation: New Zealand Gender: Male

Post Re: Organic* Food

Giliell wrote:No, antibiotics don't cause resistance the same way cold weather doesn't cause long fur.
But:
A: it selects for a trait. It changes a status quo, where 99.99% of the bacteria might be combated by the antibiotic and your body can deal with the rest of the 00.01% to a different "equilibrium" of maybe 50:50 or 0.01 to 99.99 and now we're in trouble.
B: It also increases chances for new mutations to be benefical and therefore selected for. So we can clearly link a high usage of antibiotics to resistant bacteria.
I'm not sure whether this is directed at me or just an improvement on my explanation to Richard, but yeah I agree.

You should read at least the last article paradigm linked on this issue, since the guardian is a fairly, if not unbiased, then at least a fairly reliable source for the raw information.
GMO doesn't mean less pesticides in the long run. It means more pesticides in the long run.
I read the Guardian article and it confirmed my bias about recent journalism standards. Basically it presents both sides and leaves no way for you to make an accurate judgment about the truth, kind of the opposite of what good journalism should do. Nevertheless, it challenged my preconceived ideas so I looked into it further. I found out that in some cases the amount of herbicides sprayed onto herbicide resistant soybean crops does actually increase. The reason this occurs is that switching to herbicide resistant soybeans allows the farmers to adopt no-till agriculture. No-till agricultural means that no machines are used for weed control thus increasing the reliance on herbicides. No-till agriculture is actually better for the soil, so is really another advantage for using herbicide resistant crops. Still, it would be wrong for me to claim that herbicide use decreases in all cases.

Note that this increase in herbicide usage for some soybean farms does not correspond to other crops. Herbicide use on corn, cotton, and canola are all reduced (US data only) [1] and worldwide, the use of herbicides has reduced by 4% from 1996-2004 [2].

As to the tests obviously an entire ecosystem cannot be simulated, but my point was GM crops undergo far more testing than crops produced by other means. Additionally, when the new plants fail those tests, as they sometimes do, they are destroyed. I can't find anything on modified genes in Andes maize. I suppose it's possible but it seems very unlikely given how slowly plants spread. I get that we cannot prove that anything is 100% safe, but GM crops are as safe as we can reasonably make them. I don't think ifs and maybes are good reasons to put off obtaining the benefits of GM crops, especially when many of the potential problems are tested for. I'm curious as to exactly what you think the safety issues are with GM crops?



[1] Quantification of the Impacts on US Agriculture of Biotechnology-Derived Crops Planted in 2006
[2] GM crops: the global socio-economic and environmental impact , the first nine years 1996-2004
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Mon Aug 31, 2009 10:12 am
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