Whatever steps you may be taking towards bettering your health, one of the first that most people might think of is making the switch to organic. With more supermarkets stocking their chillers and produce bins with fresh, non-GMO items, the question of how this benefits us continues to be raised. Do organic foods really make a difference to our health?
A new report commissioned by the European government, and carried out by European researchers, shows that yes, the consumption of organic produce carries with it many health benefits. The one-year study led to significant findings, leading researchers to prompt government to introduce more organic practices into how conventional food is produced.
One of the most concerning revelations in the report, entitled “Human health implications of organic food and organic agriculture“, signifies that the use of antibiotics in conventional animal production is “a key driver of antibiotic resistance.” In organically-raised animals, there are fewer antibiotics used. This means there is less chance of a public health crisis caused by superbugs; in the last month a woman died in Nevada after contracting a superbug resistant to 26 different antibiotics.
Not only does organic meat decrease the risk of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, it contains higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids, as does organic milk.
Similarly, organic crops were shown to have less cadmium content than conventionally-grown crops. This has huge effects on human health: cadmium is highly toxic. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry at the CDC lists it as a harmful substance that in some instances can prove fatal. The symptoms it causes depend on how it enters the body:
- If a high amount of cadmium is breathed in, this can seriously damage the lungs, and sometimes lead to death
- If a high amount of cadmium is consumed through food or water, it can severely irritate the stomach leading to diarrhea and vomiting, and can sometimes lead to death
“Several practices in organic agriculture, in particular the low use of pesticides and antibiotics, offer benefits for human health”, says Assistant Professor Axel Mie, from both the Karolinska Institutet and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, who led the study. “Policymakers should support the use of such practices and their introduction in conventional agriculture, and make sure that organic agriculture continues to serve as a laboratory for the development of future healthy food systems.”
The benefits of organically-grown produce have remained up in the air for the leading US agriculture department. The FDA states that there’s “not necessarily” a benefit to eating organic produce over foods grown and processed with chemicals, stating that the “UDSA makes no claims that organic food is safer or more nutritious than conventionally produced food, and indeed many organic foods are likely to match their conventional counterparts for fat and calories.” Although, it does state that organic baby food is preferable due to trace elements of pesticide in conventional baby food; this falls in line with the European report.
Monsanto, who produce Roundup, a pesticide used to treat millions of crops across the US, claim that its product is perfectly fine for human consumption. Here’s a Monsanto executive refusing to drink a glass of Roundup:
Michael R. Taylor, former Monsanto VP, is now the Commissioner of the FDA.
French researchers in 2009 discovered that Roundup’s active ingredient Glyphosate is not harmless – it can kill human cells, including embryonic, placental and umbilical cord cells. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, around 100 million pounds of Roundup are used in the US each year. The National Pesticide Information Center says that approximately 750 products in the US include glyphosate.
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