Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Down On The Farm

Aren't organic fruits and vegetables superior to conventionally grown food? Shouldn't consumers always choose organic when given a choice? Not necessarily, says a Scientific American blogger. In a series she's calling "Mythbusting 101," Christie Wilcox takes a look at four beliefs closely linked to organic food. Her July 18 blog takes each of them and exposes the accepted fiction.
The first myth: Organic farms don't use pesticides
. According to Wilcox, more than "20 chemicals (are) commonly used in the growing and processing of organic crops that are approved by the U.S. Organic Standards." The pesticides used in organic farming are produced by natural sources and go through little, if any, processing. But that doesn't mean they are less toxic than synthetic pesticides used in conventional agriculture."Many natural pesticides have been found to be potential — or serious — health risks," Wilcox writes. She cites the case of Rotenone, an organic pesticide once considered safe. As it turns out, though, Rotenone attacks mitochondria and has caused Parkinson's disease-like symptoms in laboratory rats. It also has "the potential to kill many species, including humans." Even organic farms that don't use pesticides can be growing harmful food. Wilcox notes that between 1990 and 2001, more than 10,000 people became sick from eating foods tainted with pathogens such as E. coli "and many have organic foods to blame."
Myth No. 2: Organic foods are healthier...more

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