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JayB

BBC Story on Organic Food.

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Potentially carcinogenic additives whose effect work on a decade time scale... untested/disregarded.

 

Number of people suffering from/dying of foodborne illness epidemics that are a direct result of industrial food systems... ignored.

 

Percentage of 'industrialized' (a.k.a. fossil-fuel addicted) population likely to die of starvation when oil supply can no longer sustain a food system critically dependent on cheap abundant oil... anyone's guess...

 

aggregate long-term environtmental cost of unsustainable practices... WHO CARES RIGHT? RIGHT?

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My goodness - quite the impassioned response to a fairly simple article.

 

The study referenced in the article was only considering nutrition. I've often heard people claim that one of the primary motives for eating organic food was that it's better for you. Apparently they've all been disingenuous! Good to know.

 

If there's a study out there that's equally rigorous and comprehensive study out there that the nutritional value of organically produced food is higher, I hope that you'll share that study here - and then forward it to the media, post haste.

 

There may or may not be other benefits to cultivating food using methods that fall under some definition of "Organic" (Is there a standard definition of what this means yet?). Depending on how you define organic food production, it may or may not satisfy a particular definition of "sustainability." If any of the definitions of sustainable includes "capable of growing enough food to feed everyone now and for the next 40 years" then maybe not. Ditto for whatever other criteria may or may not be part of someone's particular definition of sustainability (If there's a consensus definition that I'm not aware of here, as per organic, please share it).

 

It'd be interesting to compare current and projected yields per acre for conventional vs some fixed definition of organic cultivation and see what the data suggest.

 

But hey - at the end of the day - I'm in favor of everyone being able to grow and/or consume food that's consistent with pretty much whatever value system that they want to incorporate into the process. If you want peaches harvested under a full moon by a troupe of Bolivian clowns in lederhosen, and are willing to pay whatever premium is necessary to get them to your fridge - more power to you. You're free to do that, and I'm free to question any factual claims that you wish to advance about the benefits of doing so.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My goodness - quite the impassioned response to a fairly simple article.

 

When I see dudes wandering around in Bunny Suits in the strawberry fields because the chemicals can kill them, successful lawsuits about chemical contamination from field runoff, and other nastiness my first thought isn't "this shit sounds good to eat"

 

71XADYYG13L._SL500_AA240_.gif

 

you sound like a creationist JayB

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The study referenced in the article was only considering nutrition. I've often heard people claim that one of the primary motives for eating organic food was that it's better for you. Apparently they've all been disingenuous! Good to know.

 

They all haven't been disingenuous. As people note above, your study doesn't include pesticide, hormone, antibiotics and other harmful things that are excluded from organic foods. I appreciate that our food production is world class. You can't get that kind of production without large amounts of pesticides, herbicides and scientific study. Frankly, the mainstream food we eat has been studied extensively and found to be generally safe to eat as we buy it from mainstream markets - yet that doesn't make it conclusive at all that pesticide use is good for you. Some organics have their own set of unsafe issues as well, they aren't always better, especially as it pertains to unpasturized milk and milk products like cheese.

 

Antibiotic research coming to light seems to be indicating that blanket application in livestock will lead to transfer to humans, then causing them to be allergic to antibiotics and/or antibiotic resistant stains of disease occurring, and it ain't a good thing. To lump organic as a waste because the nutrition value, and that alone is the same, while ignoring every other bit of data on these other issues seems disingenuous to me.

 

Regards to all, interesting discussion.

 

:wave:

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If there's a study out there that's equally rigorous and comprehensive study out there that the nutritional value of organically produced food is higher, I hope that you'll share that study here - and then forward it to the media, post haste.

 

Here's a hint:

 

Peter Melchett, policy director at the Soil Association said they were disappointed with the conclusions.

 

"The review rejected almost all of the existing studies of comparisons between organic and non-organic nutritional differences.

 

"Although the researchers say that the differences between organic and non-organic food are not 'important', due to the relatively few studies, they report in their analysis that there are higher levels of beneficial nutrients in organic compared to non-organic foods.

 

Oh, and please keep repeating the same horseshit about crop yields and "feeding the poor" that agribusiness, chemical companies, and economic kooks have been telling us for the last fifty years. Last year's global food riots occurring while store shelves remained fully stocked suggests that the problem lies with the lack of food security created by the policies you've championed here rather than by lack of food.

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Hey Bill:

 

I think that those are related, but separable questions, and it's reasonable to consider them separately and ask whether or not there's evidence to support each of the specific claims made on behalf of organic foods. Consequently I think it's fair to conclude that anyone who claims that organic foods are more nutritious is making a claim that's at odds with the best evidence available to us at this point.

 

It certainly may be true that people are concerned about exposure to pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics in non-organic food. Are their concerns sincere? I'm sure that they are, but it's fair to ask whether the concerns that you mentioned have their basis in a scientific consensus or not.

 

There isn't - at least as far as I'm aware - any scientific consensus that supports the claim that eating food produced via conventional methods exposes people to any measurable health risks vis-a-vis organic foods. Nor is there any evidence that supports the claim that if the same people ate organic food exclusively they'd be any healthier or live any longer.

 

It's also not clear to me that there's a bright red line that delineates all organic methods from all conventional methods, nor is it clear that the bits of agriculture that does fall one one side of the line or the other can be objectively classified as good or bad, beneficial or harmful.

 

I think that there's a pretty clear consensus of opinion that starvation is bad, habitat destruction to increase cropland is bad, increasing water pollution is bad, etc, etc, etc - but most of the time we're confronted with a series of trade-offs and value judgments that make determining what's best extremely problematic and highly dependent on the all of the conditions and variables at play in a particular context.

 

I'm generally of the opinion that starvation and malnutrition are objectively bad and that their effects on health are substantially more severe than any adverse effects that hormones, antibiotics, and pesticides might have. I'm also of the opinion that that the social effects of starvation and malnutrition can lead to effects on the environment that are many times worse than the cumulative effects of hormones, antibiotics, fertilizers, and pesticides.

 

I'm glad that well-fed people in prosperous countries can buy food that's consistent with whatever value system they want to employ, whether there's any scientific evidence to support all or part of their motives for doing so, but I'd hate to see them impose the same constraints on other people who aren't as well-fed.

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If there's a study out there that's equally rigorous and comprehensive study out there that the nutritional value of organically produced food is higher, I hope that you'll share that study here - and then forward it to the media, post haste.

 

Here's a hint:

 

Peter Melchett, policy director at the Soil Association said they were disappointed with the conclusions.

 

"The review rejected almost all of the existing studies of comparisons between organic and non-organic nutritional differences.

 

"Although the researchers say that the differences between organic and non-organic food are not 'important', due to the relatively few studies, they report in their analysis that there are higher levels of beneficial nutrients in organic compared to non-organic foods.

 

Oh, and please keep repeating the same horseshit about crop yields and "feeding the poor" that agribusiness, chemical companies, and economic kooks have been telling us for the last fifty years. Last year's global food riots occurring while store shelves remained fully stocked suggests that the problem lies with the lack of food security created by the policies you've championed here rather than by lack of food.

 

Yes - I think that we can agree that they'd be better off if global crop yields were substantially lower.

 

 

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Yes - I think that we can agree that they'd be better off if global crop yields were substantially lower.

 

Last week in India they didn't seem to care much about the Wheat yields in Manitoba because they couldn't afford it anyway. You sound like a Washington liberal with your ideological concern for the poor and the best means of helping them.

 

 

Your argument would have merit if you acknowledged that

1) There's a difference between pesticide laden food and unladen food

2) This has no dependence on marketing of something being organic

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If there's a study out there that's equally rigorous and comprehensive study out there that the nutritional value of organically produced food is higher, I hope that you'll share that study here - and then forward it to the media, post haste.

 

Here's a hint:

 

Peter Melchett, policy director at the Soil Association said they were disappointed with the conclusions.

 

"The review rejected almost all of the existing studies of comparisons between organic and non-organic nutritional differences.

 

"Although the researchers say that the differences between organic and non-organic food are not 'important', due to the relatively few studies, they report in their analysis that there are higher levels of beneficial nutrients in organic compared to non-organic foods.

 

Oh, and please keep repeating the same horseshit about crop yields and "feeding the poor" that agribusiness, chemical companies, and economic kooks have been telling us for the last fifty years. Last year's global food riots occurring while store shelves remained fully stocked suggests that the problem lies with the lack of food security created by the policies you've championed here rather than by lack of food.

 

Yes - I think that we can agree that they'd be better off if global crop yields were substantially lower.

 

You mean the crop yields of grain for livestock in another hemisphere and other mono-crops for export so they can import boxes of Krapt Mac & Cheez they can't afford when gas prices go up?

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My goodness - quite the impassioned response to a fairly simple article.

 

When I see dudes wandering around in Bunny Suits in the strawberry fields because the chemicals can kill them, successful lawsuits about chemical contamination from field runoff, and other nastiness my first thought isn't "this shit sounds good to eat"

 

71XADYYG13L._SL500_AA240_.gif

 

you sound like a creationist JayB

 

 

 

I agree. There's no relationship between dose and toxicity.You should employ the same logic with all chemicals. Pharmaceuticals, ethanol, you name it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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If there's a study out there that's equally rigorous and comprehensive study out there that the nutritional value of organically produced food is higher, I hope that you'll share that study here - and then forward it to the media, post haste.

 

Here's a hint:

 

Peter Melchett, policy director at the Soil Association said they were disappointed with the conclusions.

 

"The review rejected almost all of the existing studies of comparisons between organic and non-organic nutritional differences.

 

"Although the researchers say that the differences between organic and non-organic food are not 'important', due to the relatively few studies, they report in their analysis that there are higher levels of beneficial nutrients in organic compared to non-organic foods.

 

Oh, and please keep repeating the same horseshit about crop yields and "feeding the poor" that agribusiness, chemical companies, and economic kooks have been telling us for the last fifty years. Last year's global food riots occurring while store shelves remained fully stocked suggests that the problem lies with the lack of food security created by the policies you've championed here rather than by lack of food.

 

Yes - I think that we can agree that they'd be better off if global crop yields were substantially lower.

 

You mean the crop yields of grain for livestock in another hemisphere and other mono-crops for export so they can import boxes of Krapt Mac & Cheez they can't afford when gas prices go up?

 

 

Are you talking about the grotesque subsidies that the US and Europe lavish on their farmers and the way they undercut third world farmers when they're dumped on local markets? The equally pernicious effects that protectionist tariffs have on their capacity to sell the things they're good at growing and making, thereby depriving them of earnings that they could exchange for food? Both?

 

 

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As always you have a good argument JayB although I think at least a couple of my items could be construed as 'food health issues' even though they are outside of a simple and easy accounting of vitamins and nutrients. Also let's not forget many studies are conducted with a forgone conclusion, in many cases in conflict of interest to appease some benefactor, or even for honest science, that the conclusion is often predetermined by the experimental design. A problem for science and the consumer alike is that it is hard to know what is really in the food except under rare circumstances. Either assayed or 'official' ingredient lists can leave out a lot of things, trace chemicals resulting from synthetic inputs or contamination being one, biological contaminants like E. coli another.

 

For a time, when organic meant something (namely natural and local), it was less likely for crazy shit to get into this food either intentionally or unintentionally. Now that Big Industrial Food is into Organic all bets are off. One bad cow kills hundreds of people who ate his CAFO neighbors, even if the the industry finds a way to label them 'organic.' Expect to see the standards loosened/manipulated and to pay more for the same old product of the quantity over quality philosophy.

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ps. people in the US do not go hungry because food is too expensive. There are far larger forces at work in these cases.

But they do seem to have a lot of food-related health problems. The argument that producing the cheapest food possible, no matter what the 'external' cost, is somehow automatically the best possible food system is not one that I can take very seriously.

Edited by ashw_justin

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I'm generally of the opinion that starvation and malnutrition are objectively bad and that their effects on health are substantially more severe than any adverse effects that hormones, antibiotics, and pesticides might have.

 

[...]

 

I'm glad that well-fed people in prosperous countries can buy food that's consistent with whatever value system they want to employ, whether there's any scientific evidence to support all or part of their motives for doing so, but I'd hate to see them impose the same constraints on other people who aren't as well-fed.

 

People are not malnourished in the United States because our "organic" food system is not able to produce enough food. They're malnourished because they don't eat any vegetables. They're malnourished because they eat at McDonalds.

 

People in other countries are not malnourished because the Western world is forcing them to grow food organically when doing so does not produce enough yield. They're starving because their governments are corrupt, their economies are destroyed, or they're refugees.

 

Who is "impos[ing] the same constraints on other people who aren't as well fed?" If we use tariffs and regulations to require farmers in other countries to use organic practices, we do so because we are buying their food - meaning their farming methods have no impact on their ability to feed themselves or those in their country, since they are growing food for foreign, not domestic, consumption.

 

What exactly is your point with all this? You seem to just be making vague skeptical remarks and anwering questions with questions.

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i just can't wait to be eating delicious lab meat

 

Is that your organically-grown pet retriever you're talkin' about?

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People are also starving around the world because they are too many...which is largely a public policy, not agricultural, issue.

 

The idea that we need to overdrive and destroy the soil now (pretty much the definition of the so called Green Revolution), at the expense of future generations, because certain nations a) can't seem to resolve their ongoing civil wars and b) aren't willing to take on much needed family planning policies, is, on it's face, moronic.

 

Human beings: subject to the same population growth/resource constraints as any other species. Not exactly a surprise, there, at least to some of us.

 

Edited by tvashtarkatena

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Mainstream environmentalism's greatest shortcoming is probably it's continuing reliance on this long-since discredited Malthusian approach. Until they're able to recognize and understand capitalism's historically unique nature and logic, liberal environmentalists are doomed to favor a repressive State and miss the specificities like profit motive, commodification, etc. that make this particular kind of human activity so destructive.

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Hey Bill:

 

I think that those are related, but separable questions, and it's reasonable to consider them separately and ask whether or not there's evidence to support each of the specific claims made on behalf of organic foods. Consequently I think it's fair to conclude that anyone who claims that organic foods are more nutritious is making a claim that's at odds with the best evidence available to us at this point.

 

It certainly may be true that people are concerned about exposure to pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics in non-organic food. Are their concerns sincere? I'm sure that they are, but it's fair to ask whether the concerns that you mentioned have their basis in a scientific consensus or not.

 

There isn't - at least as far as I'm aware - any scientific consensus that supports the claim that eating food produced via conventional methods exposes people to any measurable health risks vis-a-vis organic foods. Nor is there any evidence that supports the claim that if the same people ate organic food exclusively they'd be any healthier or live any longer.

 

It's also not clear to me that there's a bright red line that delineates all organic methods from all conventional methods, nor is it clear that the bits of agriculture that does fall one one side of the line or the other can be objectively classified as good or bad, beneficial or harmful.

 

I think that there's a pretty clear consensus of opinion that starvation is bad, habitat destruction to increase cropland is bad, increasing water pollution is bad, etc, etc, etc - but most of the time we're confronted with a series of trade-offs and value judgments that make determining what's best extremely problematic and highly dependent on the all of the conditions and variables at play in a particular context.

 

I'm generally of the opinion that starvation and malnutrition are objectively bad and that their effects on health are substantially more severe than any adverse effects that hormones, antibiotics, and pesticides might have. I'm also of the opinion that that the social effects of starvation and malnutrition can lead to effects on the environment that are many times worse than the cumulative effects of hormones, antibiotics, fertilizers, and pesticides.

 

I'm glad that well-fed people in prosperous countries can buy food that's consistent with whatever value system they want to employ, whether there's any scientific evidence to support all or part of their motives for doing so, but I'd hate to see them impose the same constraints on other people who aren't as well-fed.

 

Well spoken as always Jayb. I'm even willing to give folks who want to spew that the nutritional value is higher the benefit of the doubt. Frankly, I remember buying some organic Oranges at natures once, that tasted so good that my kids and I ate them all and immediately went back and bought another sack most of which we ate immediately. The taste was so significantly better it would be hard not to believe it to have more nutrients than the nearly unpalatable bland cardboard masquerading as oranges at the Safeway store. If someone cannot separate taste and nutritional content, I can live with it. Like you, what ever floats folks boats.

 

I think separating out the various health risks of organic or not as it relates to food may be the more prudent approach. Antibiotics, for example, may have different health risks than growth Hormones and pesticides, and it seems clear that there are huge and widespread health issues in the process of cropping up from this practice. Here's some links of scientific consensus starting to form. Perhaps the evidence is less than startling conclusive, yet if you could avoid unwanted antibiotics from possibly screwing up our children, wouldn't you want that?

 

New England Journal of Medicine articals

 

www.cals.ncsu.edu/waste_mgt/natlcenter/sanantonio/Ohl.ppt

 

 

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/meat/safe/overview.html

 

opps, looks like my 2nd link, which is a powerpoint presentation, didn't take and will be cut and past for you. Here are the abstracts for anyone to look up.

 

* White DG, Zhao S, Suler R et al. The isolation of antibiotic-resistant salmonella from retail ground meats. N Engl J Med 2001;345:1147-54. Abstract

* McDonald LC, Rossiter S, Mackinson C et al. Quinupristin-Dalfopristin-Resistant Enterococcus faecium on Chicken and in Human Stool Specimens. N Engl J Med 2001;345:1155-60. Abstract

* Sørensen TL, Blom M, Monnet DL et al. Transient Intestinal Carriage after Ingestion of Antibiotic-Resistant Enterococcus faecium from Chicken and Pork. N Engl J Med 2001;345:1161-6. Abstract

 

 

 

Edited by billcoe

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No, 'mainsteam environmentalism' does not rely on any Malthusian approach; it focuses on the sustained environmental and cultural health of local communities. Nonetheless, overpopulation is a major factor in many countries, including our own (although our wealth buffers us from some of the more immediate results), although it seems to be a politically taboo topic.

 

JayB's arguments assume infinite resources...but even that fantasy has and will continue to produce a disastrous outcome in the form of unfavorable climate change, among other things.

 

Getting tangled in the details of which study does or doesn't prove is a pleasant parlor game but that's all it is. Making personal consumption decisions based on promoting the sustainable health of local communities actually produces real results in the right direction, for both human beings and the environment. It's a values, not a data, thing.

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