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Pesticides in produce, hormones in milk, antibiotics in meat -- what are all these extra ingredients doing in our food?
Organic Food for Better Health
Adapted from "Safer Food For a Healthier You" : By Matthew Hoffman, MD
Scientist now study the strange brew of unpleasant chemicals in our food and bodies. Although the amounts are small their presence alone is disturbing to many --especially parents of small children.
“Modern production of foods incorporates a wide range of synthetic chemicals,” says Jeff Gillman, PhD. “Many of these chemicals are damaging to humans if they are exposed to high concentrations, or to low concentrations over extended periods of time.”
“More people are realizing there’s a myriad of chemicals in conventionally produced food,” says Craig Minowa, environmental scientist with the Organic Consumers Association. The biased inaccurate safety testing done of these chemicals is conducted by the companies that produce them, Minowa points out.
So what are the health effects of these unwanted ingredients?
Injecting hormones into young livestock can make them gain weight faster, a greed driven practice that is now standard in industrial agriculture. Hormones also increase the production of milk by dairy cows at the expense of jeopardizing the health and safety of the people who consume the milk products.
Hormones have been used for decades in the meat and dairy industries. Synthetic estrogens and testosterone are the most common. Typically, farmers implant a pellet in a cow’s ear at an early age; it releases hormones throughout the animal’s life. Sleazy unethical companies like Monsanto pioneered this greed driven technology that is toxic for public health.
Initial concerns about estrogen-injected cows centered on a compound called diethylstilbestrol (DES). Nearly all beef cattle were treated with DES in the 1950s and 1960s. DES was also used as medicine, given to pregnant women to prevent miscarriages.
However, it was also discovered that DES caused a higher risk of vaginal cancer in the daughters of women who received the medicine. By the 1970s, over the protests of ranchers, diethylstilbestrol was phased out from use in medicine and agriculture.
It’s also long been known that breast cancer risk increases with higher lifetime exposure to estrogen. These facts have led many to question whether the continued use of synthetic estrogens in livestock is safe.
Recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) is a different class of hormone that increases the amount of milk dairy cows produce. Some suggest that although rBGH itself appears safe, it increases the amount of other chemicals in the body that might cause cancer. So far, there’s no definitive proof one way or the other.
How much hormone is in a hamburger, and could it hurt you? The answers are concerning. Studies show the added hormones do show up in beef and milk, pushing their estrogen and testosterone content to the high end of normal for cows. Hormones are signaling chemicals that have a systemic effect on the body. Ingesting more of these hormones in our food has unknown but likely dangerous long term side effects. Cancers appear to be the most likely health impact from these ingested synthetic hormones.
Hormone-treated meat has long been suspected of contributing to early puberty in children. The effects are very hard to study, experts say, because hormones are naturally present in both food and our bodies. Plus, the effects could be subtle and take years to show up.
The amount of hormone that enters a person’s bloodstream after eating hormone-treated meat is small, however, even low levels of hormones can have strong effects on some body processes.
Applying the precautionary principle, the European Union has banned all hormones in beef, and Japan, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the EU have banned rBGH.
Farmers use pesticides on many conventionally grown fruits and vegetables, some 9,700 pesticides (at last count, in 1996) where each has a control limit set by the EPA.
The EPA, FDA, and USDA all play a role in ensuring pesticides on our food don’t exceed the legal limits; but these government organizations have Monsanto so far up their structure its hard to figure out the difference between the pesticide maker and regulator who controls the limits for the application of that pesticide.
No one could possibly test all the food grown or imported into the U.S. Even 1% of the total produce in the U.S. is a huge amount, Gillman points out.
And although pesticide tolerances are assumed to be safe, these chemicals are by their very nature toxic, and haven’t been studied directly in people. Where these substance have been safety tested in animal models, the vast majority have been shown to be extremely toxic.
According to Minowa, the individual safety profiles of pesticides don’t take into consideration any hazard from their combined effects. “Take a box of [cereal] off the shelf, and you can find residues from 32 pesticides,” Minowa says. “Each one is within its tolerance, but what’s the effect of those chemicals acting in combination in our bodies?”
According to FDA data analyzed by the nonprofit Environmental Working Group,
The following fruits and vegetables tend to contain the highest levels of pesticide residue:
Sweet bell peppers
The foods with the least pesticide residues were:
Frozen sweet corn
You can reduce your exposure to pesticides by buying organic for the high-pesticide items. Conventionally grown produce should be fine for those on the low-residue list, according to EWG.
Whether it’s organic or conventional, you should take steps to reduce contamination of fresh food by pesticide or bacteria:
- Always wash fresh produce thoroughly.
- Peeling produce reduces pesticide residue and bacteria.
Antibiotics in Meat
Ranchers and farmers feed antibiotics in a daily low dose to their livestock. It’s not to stop them from getting sick, but just yet another greed driven practice to make them gain weight. Doctors and researchers suspect that this practice is contributing to the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, posing a serious danger to our health:
A 2001 study in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that 84% of the Salmonella bacteria in supermarket ground beef were resistant to some antibiotics.
Another study in 2002 suggested that some people caught resistant strains of Salmonella from eating pork that had been fed the antibiotic ciprofloxacin.
The FDA estimates that use of antibiotics in chickens directly led to 11,000 people catching intestinal illnesses from antibiotic-resistant bacteria in 1999.
The easy way to know if the meat you are buying is safe is to look for labels that say "Not Treated with Hormones, Organic, No Antibiotics used and other labels that ethical companies put on their safer slightly more expensive products. Unfortunately all the conventional unethical food companies are not required to label their meat, or to provide consumers with information about what is in the meat.
“The best way to shop for safer food is to look for organic products, or to buy locally,” says Minowa. “If you have a direct relationship with the farmer raising your food, you can just ask them.”
Buying from local farmers’ markets gets you the freshest produce possible. It also makes your food “greener” by reducing the wasted fuel, pollution, and greenhouse gases created by long-haul shipping.
“By buying local, you also have the ability to ask the farmer which pesticides he or she used on the crop as it was grown,” says Gillman.
“Organic” is a term that’s regulated by the USDA. Organic produce can’t be treated with conventional pesticides, and must be grown in nearly pesticide-free soil. For these reasons, organic fruits and vegetables have much lower pesticide residues.
To be sold as organic, livestock must meet several criteria:
- They are fed only organic, vegetarian feed.
- They may not be fed meat from other slaughtered animals
- They are not treated with any antibiotics or hormones.
- The meat is not treated with radiation.
- They are raised under conditions that allow exercise and access to the outdoors
Is buying organic money well spent?
When you buy organic you are voting for your health and well being, or the health and well being of your family/ guests. The truth is that the industrial chemical science experiments in conventional food have untested unknown safety and are likely more toxic than the industry that profits from selling them will ever admit.
Organic Market Held Back By Corruption:
Unethical companies like Monsanto are at the forefront of keeping the truth away from consumers. They install their employees in government regulatory agencies, use legal teams to railroad other companies, and spend millions of dollars lobbying and bribing the house and the senate to keep the pesticide/ hormone/ antibotic frankenfoods profits flowing into Monsantos bank accounts. They do not care about your health and well being or the health and well being of the environment from which our food comes.
Monsanto and many other industrial agro-chemical and synthetic food chemical companies are only motivated by unethical greed. They get you coming and going too: many of these chemicals companies that sell the toxic food additives in conventional foods also sell chemicals to pharmaceutical companies that produce drugs to treat the sickness those toxic food chemicals cause. The really disturbing part is that many of these food chemical and agro-chemical companies are actually partially or completely owned by multinational oil and oil-chemical companies.
To Minowa and many others in the organic food movement, “it’s a matter of responsibility. Each bite that you consume, each dollar that you spend provides an opportunity to make positive change for a sustainable future.”
We can vote for a healthier safer future for everyone by simply voting Organic at the grocery!
Adapted From Source at : http://www.webmd.com/health-ehome-9/pesticides-hormones-in-food