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Medical Effects Of Organic & Conventional Foods

Updated on June 25, 2010

Pesticides are sprayed on most conventionally grown foods, but it does not necessarily mean that by the time it reaches market, actual pesticide residues are clinging to conventionally farmed food. In reality, 90% of non-organic food ends up being completely pesticide-free, according to some studies, because such microscopic traces are easily rubbed off during washing, handling, and shipping.

Farmworkers and their families may be best protected from the health risks associated with the exposure to volumes of pesticide by implementing conventional farming. Organic farming opposes the technique of genetically-modified crops which is included in conventional farming. A reduction in pesticide usage and environmental footprint has been shown in studies to be the result of these genetically-modified crops; these crops often require very little or no pesticide spraying, and also fewer food-borne microorganisms, such as E.coli, are endangering non-organic farmers.

On the health implications of certain pesticides, there is controversial data. For example, the herbicide Atrazine, even at concentrations as low as 0.1 part per billion, has been shown in some experiments to be a teratogen that emasculates male frogs, effectively turning them into hermaphrodites by causing their gonads to produce eggs. However, concerns about residue substances are considered greatly over-stated by prominent scientists who say that naturally occurring chemicals offer the same or greater risks, because in comparison, pesticide residues are less toxic than numerous other chemicals such as caffeine, vitamin B6, or salt, which are found everywhere.

The utilization of synthetic pesticides are not allowed, but the use of specific substances known as natural pesticides, along the lines of those types which are derived from various plants, is allowed by Organic farming standards. Pyrethrum, bt, and rotenone, which have a high toxicity to most aquatic creatures along with an acknowledged toxicity to all mammals and of course including humans, are considered the most common organic pesticides and are accepted for restricted use by most organic standards.

It has been determined that the major source of exposure to pesticides for infants and children is through diet, according to a study conducted by the National Research Council. A measure of the amount of exposure to the pesticide organophosphorus, in a recent 2006 study, was taken in 23 schoolchildren prior and post replacing their conventional diet with fully organic food. It was realized that when the children were changed over onto an organic diet, levels of pesticide exposure for organophosphorus dropped immediately and dramatically, but, it does not mean that pesticides are ingested at amounts that could ever prove harmful despite the obvious fact that dietary means are the primary source of ingestion of pesticides. Children are kept in mind and a child's lifetime ingestion of each pesticide is considered when food residue limits are established by law, and the design of modern pesticides make them biodegrade in the body into harmless components.

In a small study looking at processed organic foods, it was discovered that the differences between organic and conventional varieties of a rice cakes or vitabrits could not be determined by participants.

Also, organic fruit and vegetables have shown higher nutrient levels when compared with conventionally grown in some studies. However, the evidence is not considered conclusive because of the difficulty designing these types of experiments.

Continued In: Medical Effects Of Organic & Conventional Foods Part 2


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