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4 Science-Backed Health Benefits of Eating Organic

The organic food industry is a booming business, and with the recent sale of natural-foods giant Whole Foods to Amazon, it’s expected to grow even larger in the near future. While some consumers buy organic because they believe it’s better for the environment, even more do so for health-related reasons, according to one 2016 survey.

What, exactly, are the health benefits of going organic? That depends on who you ask and which studies you consult. But if you do choose to buy organic foods, here are some science-backed bonuses you’re likely to get in return.

Fewer pesticides and heavy metals
Fruits, vegetables and grains labeled organic are grown without the use of most synthetic pesticides or artificial fertilizers. (The National Organic Standard Board does allow some synthetic substances to be used.) While such chemicals have been deemed safe in the quantities used for conventional farming, health experts still warn about the potential harms of repeated exposure.

For example, the commonly used herbicide Roundup has been classified as a “probable human carcinogen,” and the insecticide chlorpyrifos has been associated with developmental delays in infants. Studies have also suggested that pesticide residues—at levels commonly found in the urine of kids in the U.S.—may contribute to ADHD prevalence; they’ve also been linked to reduced sperm quality in men.

A 2014 meta-analysis in the British Journal of Nutrition found that organically grown crops were not only less likely to contain detectable levels of pesticides, but because of differences in fertilization techniques, they were also 48% less likely to test positive for cadmium, a toxic heavy metal that accumulates in the liver and kidneys.

More healthy fats
When it comes to meat and milk, organic products can have about 50% more omega-3 fatty acids, a type of unsaturated healthy fat, than conventionally produced products, according to a 2016 study in the British Journal of Nutrition. Organic milk tested in the study also had less saturated fat than non-organic.

These differences may come from the way organic livestock is raised, with a grass-fed diet and more time spent outdoors, say the study’s authors. They believe that switching from conventional to organic products would raise consumers’ omega-3 intake without increasing overall calories or saturated fat.

dirty dozen

No antibiotics or synthetic hormones
Conventional livestock can be fed antibiotics to protect against illness, making it easier for farmers to raise animals in crowded or unsanitary conditions. The FDA limited the use of certain antibiotics for livestock earlier this year, but loopholes in the legislation still exist. And with the exception of poultry, conventionally raised animals can also be injected with synthetic growth hormones, so they’ll gain weight faster or produce more milk.

But traces of these substances can make their way to consumers, says Rolf Halden, professor and director of the Biodesign Center for Environmental Security at Arizona State University. Drug residue is believed to contribute to widespread antibiotic resistance, he says, and organic foods—which are produced without antibiotics—“are intrinsically safer in this respect.” Organic meat and dairy also cannot contain synthetic hormones, which have been linked to an increased risk of cancer.

More antioxidants, in some cases
In a recent six-year study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, researchers found that organic onions had about a 20% higher antioxidant content than conventionally grown onions. They also theorized that previous analyses—several of which have found no difference in conventional versus organic antioxidant levels—may have been thwarted by too-short study periods and confounding variables like weather.

The research was “very well done,” says Guy Crosby, adjunct associate professor of Nutrition at the Harvard Chan School of Public Health. But he points out that this specific study “takes just one aspect of phytochemicals and shows they can be improved under organic conditions.” The question of whether organic foods are truly more nutritious is still debatable, he adds. “Had the researchers chosen to measure a different vitamin or mineral, they may have found a different result.”

The bottom line
Organic products are more expensive than conventional ones, and whether they’re really worth the extra cost is certainly a matter of choice. “If you can afford all organic, that’s fantastic, but it’s not feasible for most people,” says registered dietitian Cynthia Sass. “If it’s not, the most important groups to buy organic, in my opinion, include foods you eat daily and produce on the Dirty Dozen list—those with the highest pesticide residues.” If people eat eggs, dairy and meat, she also recommends buying those organic.

Halden says that vulnerable groups—including pregnant women, young children, the elderly and people suffering from allergies—may benefit the most from choosing organically produced foods. He also points out that a strictly organic diet can still be plenty unhealthy: “Eating too much sugar and meat and too few vegetables is risky, regardless of whether the shopper picks from the conventional or organic grocery selection,” he says.

It’s also important for consumers to make educated decisions about why they choose to buy organic, says Crosby—and not to get hung up on individual studies that haven’t been supported by additional research. If you’re trying to reduce exposure to pesticide residues, organic is a good choice, he says. “On the other hand, if you’re buying them because they’re more nutritious, the evidence doesn’t broadly support that,” he says.

By AMANDA MACMILLAN AND JULIA NAFTULIN        July 27, 2017
source: time.com       #OrganicWeek   September 8-16, 2018
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11 Sneaky Things Other Than Food & Exercise That May Affect Your Weight

And how to make them work in your favor

The great recession

What do economics have to do with health? At most universities they’re not even in the same building! But it turns out that a dip in the economy can lead to a rise in our weight according to a study done by John Hopkins. Researchers found that from 2008 to 2012—the period known as the great recession—weight gain was strongly correlated with the rise in unemployment, increasing the risk of obesity by 21 percent. This makes sense as one of the first things to go when our budgets get tight are luxuries like health food and gym memberships, not to mention the loss of health insurance that often accompanies a job loss. However, it may help to remember that there are many low-cost or free ways to protect your health—and an investment in you is the best one you can make.

How high you are

No we’re not talking about the wave of pot legalization sweeping the country (although that probably would affect your weight too) but rather how high up you live. There’s a reason that Colorado is the both the slimmest and the steepest state in the nation. The altitude at which you live is strongly correlated with your weight, with each gain in altitude corresponding with a drop in weight, according to a study done by the U.S. Air Force. But don’t sell your beach-front property and head for the hills just yet—the effect can be balanced out by other factors known to prevent against obesity where you live, like outdoor greenery, strong social ties, and opportunities to go outside. Case in point: Hawaii is the third thinnest state in America, and it’s the definition of sea level.

 

It’s a generation thing

Ever wondered why your grandma never exercised a day in her life and yet wore a tiny wedding dress that you could never hope to fit into even though you run marathons? Some of it may be due to the difference in generations you were both born into. Bad news for young ‘uns: Millennials, Gen Y, and Gen X all need to eat less and exercise more to stave off obesity than their forefathers did, according to a study from York University. And it’s not just the fact that we have Netflix and take out at our fingertips. Rather, the researchers found that the average metabolism of both men and women has slowed, even after controlling for factors like disease, diet, and fitness. Why? We have no solid answers yet but in the meantime, if you’re under 40 at least you can take comfort that you’re not alone in your struggle.

That cursed smog

The effects of environmental pollutants go far beyond wheezing and sneezing. Rats exposed to highly polluted air were not only much more likely to become obese, according to a study done by Duke University, but also had a greater risk of heart disease, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. And it’s not just limited to rodents. People who live close to roadways with a high level of air pollution are also more likely to gain weight, says a study from the University of Southern California. Unfortunately air pollution is likely not under your direct control but we can all work together to lobby for and implement clean-air policies where we live, making for both a healthier physical and celestial body.

Your thermostat

Our delightfully warm and cozy homes and offices might be partly responsible for our less-delightful expanding waistlines, say researchers in a study published in the journal Cell. The scientists found that regular exposure to mildly cold weather—as would have been normal in the days before programmable thermostats—helps the human body regulate a healthy weight. The chilly air seems to increase metabolism by making the body work harder to cope with the changing conditions. Some proponents of “cold therapy” take daily ice baths or “shiver walks” but you don’t have to be that extreme to see results, say the researchers. Just lowering your thermostat by a few degrees or turning the shower briefly to cold can help.
scale

How many antibiotics you’ve taken

Antibiotics are one of the biggest miracles of modern medicine, no doubt about it. But those infection-fighting drugs may have unintended consequences. The more antibiotics a person takes during their lifetime, particularly during early childhood, the greater their risk of becoming obese, according to an NYU study. Researchers speculate that it has to do with killing healthy gut bacteria, decimating your microbiome along with the bad bugs, as good bacteria has been shown to help prevent weight gain. But if you were the kid with chronic ear infections, don’t fret, you can rebuild your good gut bacteria by taking a probiotic and eating plenty of fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi.

Fido and Fifi

Owning a pet, particularly a dog, slashes the human companion’s risk of obesity, says the American Heart Association. Why? Dogs need to be walked daily and are often quite persistent, encouraging their owners to walk as well. But it’s not just the extra exercise, especially since 40 percent of dog owners confess to not walking their dog on a regular basis. The researchers add that petting an animal greatly reduces stress and depression, two other known risk factors for weight gain. So if you do have a dog, make sure to walk them daily, and in the meantime soak up all the snuggles, wet kisses, and purrs you can.

The number on your paycheck

Income is one of the biggest factors correlated with obesity, with poor Americans being three times more likely to be obese than richer ones, according to a study published in Nutrition Reviews. Low-income people are less likely to have access to supermarkets with fresh foods (often living in “food deserts”), less likely to have health insurance, and less likely to live in neighborhoods where exercise outdoors is encouraged or even safe. Fortunately this is one area we can all help improve by working to better conditions in our own neighborhoods or helping out others nearby.

Pesticides

Pesticides may help us grow stronger and more plentiful crops but many of the chemicals used in popular formulations are known “endocrine disruptors”: They interfere with your body’s metabolic systems. Pesticides hijack our metabolism by mimicking, blocking, or otherwise interfering with the body’s natural hormones, according to a report issued by The Endocrine Society. Regular exposure to pesticides through food was correlated with an increase risk of both obesity and diabetes. Buying all organic may be one solution but for many people that doesn’t fit in the budget. If money’s tight you can also decrease your pesticide load by avoiding, or only buying organic of, the “dirty dozen“, the most contaminated produce. Or you can always try growing some of your own fruits and vegetables. (Bonus: Gardening is great exercise!)

How many trees you can count from your window

Close proximity to parks, trails, and other types of green spaces is linked with lower body weight, according to research done by the American Diabetes Association. Being able to see, and more importantly walk to, greenery encouraged people to exercise more and made it feel, well, less like exercise. Parks make physical exertion feel like fun but even if you’re not using them to exercise, simply being in the presence of nature has been shown to reduce stress, lower weight and improve your health overall. The vast majority of Americans already live within walking distance of some type of park so get out there and explore your neighborhood.

All that stuff on the food label you don’t recognize

You already know that processed foods do no favors for your waistline but it turns out it’s not just the empty calories and trans fats doing the damage. Some of the most popular food additives are linked with weight gain and obesity, according to a study done by Georgia State University. Emulsifiers, which are added to most processed foods for texture and to extend shelf life, are one of the worst offenders as they interfere with good gut bacteria. But some artificial flavorings, artificial sweeteners, preservatives, and even the food packaging have also been linked in research to obesity.

Charlotte Hilton Andersen  
source: www.rd.com


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Organic Food Provides Significant Environmental Benefits To Plant-Rich Diets

The study of more than 34,000 people is the first to investigate the environmental impacts of both food choices and farm production systems

A study of the diets of 34,000 people confirms that a diet high in fruit and vegetables is better for the planet than one high in animal products. The study also finds that organic food provides significant, additional climate benefits for plant-based diets, but not for diets with only moderate contribution from plant products. This is the first-ever study to look at the environmental impacts of both food choices and farm production systems.

A major new study confirms that a diet high in fruit and vegetables is better for the planet than one high in animal products. The study also finds that organic food provides significant, additional climate benefits for plant-based diets, but not for diets with only moderate contribution from plant products. Published today in open access journal Frontiers in Nutrition, this is the first study to investigate the environmental impacts of both dietary patterns and farm production systems. It is also the first to investigate the environmental impact of organic food consumption using observed diets rather than models.

Many organizations, including the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, advocate the urgent adoption of more sustainable diets at a global level. Such diets include reduced consumption of animal products, which have a higher environmental impact than plant-based products. This is mainly due to the high energy requirements of livestock farming as well as the very large contribution of livestock to greenhouse gas emissions. Intensive livestock production is also responsible for significant biodiversity loss due to conversion of natural habitats to grass and feed crops.

The method of food production may also influence sustainable diets. Organic agriculture is generally considered more environmentally friendly than other modern production techniques. However, while many studies have investigated environmentally sustainable diets, these have rarely considered both dietary choices and the production method of the foods consumed.

“We wanted to provide a more comprehensive picture of how different diets impact the environment,” says Louise Seconda from the French Agence De L’Environnement Et De La Maitrise De L’Energie and the Nutritional Epidemiology Research Unit one of the article’s authors. “In particular, it is of considerable interest to consider the impacts of both plant-based foods and organic foods.”

To do this, researchers obtained information on food intake and organic food consumption from more than 34,000 French adults. They used what’s called a ‘provegetarian’ score to determine preferences for plant-based or animal-based food products. The researchers also conducted production life cycle environmental impact assessments at the farm level against three environmental indicators: greenhouse gas emissions, cumulative energy demand and land occupation.

“Combining consumption and farm production data we found that across the board, diet-related environmental impacts were reduced with a plant-based diet — particularly greenhouse gas emissions,” says Louise Seconda. “The consumption of organic food added even more environmental benefits for a plant-based diet. In contrast, consumption of organic food did not add significant benefits to diets with high contribution from animal products and only moderate contribution from plant products.”

However the researchers caution that the environmental effects of production systems are not uniform and can be impacted by climate, soil types and farm management.

“We didn’t look at other indicators such as pesticide use, leaching and soil quality which are relevant to the environmental impacts of productions systems,” says Louise Seconda. “Therefore future studies could also consider these as well as supply chain and distribution impacts of food production.”

The authors also say it will be important to conduct further studies to confirm these results and to expand our understanding of how the entire food production lifecycle impacts sustainability.

Journal Reference:
Camille Lacour, Louise Seconda, Benjamin Allès, Serge Hercberg, Brigitte Langevin, Philippe Pointereau, Denis Lairon, Julia Baudry, Emmanuelle Kesse-Guyot. Environmental Impacts of Plant-Based Diets: How Does Organic Food Consumption Contribute to Environmental Sustainability? Frontiers in Nutrition, 2018; 5 DOI: 10.3389/fnut.2018.00008


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Everyday Items That May Be Hindering Your Health

Everyday items could be causing everything from mood swings to infertility and even cancer.

Chemicals found in plastic water bottles, lipsticks, tampons, receipts and even tap water are wreaking havoc on people’s hormones, which is linked to a growing number of health problems.

Research published earlier this week reveals more than 90 percent of receipts contain the so-called ‘gender-bending’ chemical Bisphenol A (BPA) and its ‘healthier alternative’ Bisphenol S (BPS), which are associated with autism, ADHD, type 2 diabetes, premature births and early onset of puberty, reports the Daily Mail.

Researchers from the Michigan-based non-profit organisation The Ecology Center analyzed 207 paper receipts from a variety of businesses collected between January and April 2017.

However despite their health concerns, such chemicals are frequently added to day-to-day products to provide scent and extend their shelf life.

In a piece for Healthista, editor Anna Magee speaks to reproductive experts, nutritional therapists and dentists on how to avoid such chemicals and detox your life.

Most of us take the mood swings, grumpiness and weight gain of fluctuating hormones for granted.

Yet toxic chemicals in our everyday lives could be making things worse.

Known as ‘xenoestrogens’, these substances, which are found in plastics, cosmetics, sanitary products, receipts and even tap water can mimic the hormone oestrogen and are linked not only to middle-aged spread but also reproductive problems, learning difficulties and even cancer.

Dr Channa Jayasena, a clinical senior lecturer and consultant in reproductive endocrinology at Imperial College London, said: ‘We know little about such hormone altering chemicals but our increasing exposure to them is a cause for concern.

“The risk of these endocrine-disrupting chemicals is enormous and we’re just at the start of learning what they do.
“My concern is that by the time we work out what they actually do, they might be causing diseases we don’t know about.”

So, what can you do? Start by identifying the sources of fake oestrogens in your life and take simple steps to detox them.

Water bottles and other plastics

Dr Jayasena said: “Chemicals in plastics behave like oestrogen in our systems when they reach our bloodstream.”

Chief offender is BPA found in plastic containers, water bottles and linings for tinned foods and drinks. A 2016 study revealed that two out of three canned foods tested positive for BPA.

A survey by the US Centers for Disease Control found that 93 per cent of the population had measurable amounts of BPA in their systems.

According to the Food Standards Agency, there is European legislation in place which sets a maximum limit on BPA from plastics, however, such risks are being re-evaluated by European authorities due to new scientific information emerging on the dangers of such exposure.

BPA and other xenoestrogens not only effect our waistlines but also our reproductive systems.

Dr Jayasena said: “Men’s sperm counts have decreased dramatically in the last decade and we’re now looking at the part hormone disrupting chemicals in our packaging, food and water play in this.”

Dr Sara Gottfried, a US gynaecologist and author of “The Hormone Cure” and new book, “Younger: The Breakthrough Programme to Reset our Genes and Reverse Ageing”, added: “Many problems are co-related with BPA from weight gain to endometriosis and breast cancer.

“This and other xenoestrogen chemicals build up in the body, accelerating ageing and hindering weight loss.”

While some companies market plastic products as “BPA-free”, substitute chemicals, known as BPS and BPF, may be just as dangerous.

A study in April this year by the Endocrine Society in the US found that exposure to BPS could increase the aggressiveness of breast cancer, while a paper published in Environmental Health Perspectives in 2015 reviewed 32 studies on the subject and found that all three chemicals are hormone disruptors linked to problems such as weight gain and reproductive issues.

• How to detox

Dr Gottfried said: “Heat, microwave use, dishwasher use or leaving a plastic water bottle in the sun can all release such chemicals.

“Avoid microwaving your food with cling film over it or while it’s in plastic containers.
“Use stainless steel water bottles where you can, cook and store food in glass, ceramic or stainless steel, and use glass or microwave-safe ceramics for microwaving.
“If you must use plastic containers, don’t heat them up”.

She also recommends people try and avoid tinned food or rinse their contents carefully before eating.

BPA is found in plastic water bottles, containers, and linings for tinned food and drinks.

Tap water, fruit and vegetables

Dr Jayasena said: “Xenoestrogen chemicals are in our water supply, fruit and vegetables thanks to their use in farming.”

For example, while DDT, a pesticide with proven hormone-disrupting effects, has been banned, glyphosate, a similar xenostrogen chemical linked to breast cancer and obesity, which is found in the common garden weedkiller Round Up, is still commonly available.

Round Up is one of many pesticides used in Britain that is made from chemicals with endocrine-disrupting effects, the residues of which leech into our tap water and rivers, and remains on the skin of fruit and vegetables.

• How to detox

Dr Gottfried recommends people drink filtered water, using carbon to absorb impurities and contaminants. Reverse osmosis filters can remove more chemicals but require fitting to taps at home and can be expensive.

Nutritional therapist Daniel O’Shannessy, who is also director of Bodhimaya Health Centre, says people can remove pesticides from the skin of fruit and vegetables by soaking them in water and a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar before cooking.

They can also check websites such as the Environmental Working Group (ewg.org) for their “dirty dozen” and “clean fifteen”; lists of the most and least contaminated produce.

More than 90 percent of receipts contain the so-called ‘gender-bending’ chemical BP.

Receipts, sanitary products and napkins

Dr Gottfried said: “The shiny coating on receipts is giving you a dose of BPA every time you touch it and we know the skin absorbs such chemicals almost as well as when we ingest them.”
France is seeking an EU-wide ban on till receipts containing BPA, with most of its receipts being marked “sans BPA”.

Such sources of synthetic oestrogens contribute to your overall toxic load, increasing your risk of oestrogen dominance.

Other paper sources of synthetic oestrogens include sanitary towels and tampons, which contains xenoestrogens called dioxins – and are linked to fertility, immune issues and endometriosis – as well as table napkins, which may be coated in BPA.

• How to detox

Try and go receipt free, and look for organic or dioxin-free sanitary products that have not been bleached or dyed. Also opt for unbleached, uncoated napkins.

Dental fillings

BPA is used in plastics, with the resins making composite fillings.

A 2010 study published in the Journal of Dental Hygiene found that BPA was found in the saliva of all 30 dental patients surveyed, while further research in 2012, published in the journal Paediatrics, found that children fitted with fillings made from a substance containing BPA show more behavioural problems compared to their peers.

• How to detox

Dentist James Goolnik of Bow Lane Dental Group, said: “Composite fillings are the least expensive [around £200 a tooth (NZD $380)] of all fillings after mercury and, as mercury has so many confirmed dangers, many people opt for composite.

“But while many contain synthetic oestrogen chemicals such as BPA, it’s now possible to ask for BPA-free composite fillings”.
“Alternatively, porcelain won’t contain toxic chemicals, is tooth coloured, more durable than composite and is about £500 (NZD $952) a tooth.
“If the filling isn’t visible, the best option is gold as it virtually lasts forever, is kinder to your tooth and also contains no toxic chemicals but at around £800 (NZD $1,523) a filling, it’s pricey.
“I still wouldn’t recommend having plastic fillings removed because of the BPA effect as the removal process not only leads to more tooth tissue being damaged it can aggravate the release of more chemicals into the system.”

Cosmetics

That lipstick you cannot live without could be adding to your ostrogen load.

In the 1990s, chemicals known as parabens in body creams, lipsticks, scrubs, shampoos and more were identified as xenoestrogens, while in 2004, British researcher Philippa Darbre found them in breast cancer cells.

Likewise, a family of chemicals known as sulphates also have an oestrogen-like effect on the body and are responsible for create lathers in shampoos, body washes, detergents and soaps.

• How to detox

Dr Gottfried said: “Ignore labels such as chemical-free, ‘natural’ or ‘for sensitive skin’ as these have no regulated meaning.

Instead, opt for organic skincare and make-up, or products that are sulphate- and paraben-free.

Perfumes and scented candles

Dr Gottfried said: “Many commercial perfumes and scented candles contain phthalates, a class of chemicals found in a surprising number of common household products such as shampoos, deodorants, body washes, hair gels and nail polishes.
“There’s little doubt phthalate chemicals are a key contributor to the inability to lose weight caused by oestrogen dominance.
“Research into the effects of phthalate is ongoing but we know they cause birth defects in male foetuses, are associated with poor egg quality and early menopause in women, and may also be linked to breast cancer and type-2 diabetes”.

• How to detox

Look for phthalate-free cosmetics and unscented candles, ideally made from soya wax.

High-grade essential oils in water used with an oil burner are also a great alternative to scented candles.

Three ways to detox excess oestrogen

Simple lifestyle measures can help, according Daniel O’Shaunnessy, a nutritional therapist at the Bodhimaya Health Centre.

• Eat flaxseeds

Constipation can lead to hormonal imbalances by slowing down the passing of hormones from food and water through the gut. Flaxseeds contain fibre that helps ease this.

Try a tablespoon soaked overnight in a glass of water and then added to smoothies, porridge or taken neat.

• Eat broccoli

Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli and cauliflower, help detoxify fake oestrogen from the liver.

• Take a probiotic

This will help balance the beneficial microflora in your gut, which can help increase motility, meaning you eliminate toxins faster.

By: Anna Magee, Alexandra Thompson       Daily Mail      21 Jan, 2018 
 


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We Have To Roll Back The Tide of Pesticide Use Before It’s Too Late

An anthropogenic mass extinction is underway that will affect all life on the planet and humans will struggle to survive the phenomenon. So says Rosemary Mason in a 2015 paper in the Journal of Biological Physics and Chemistry. Loss of biodiversity is the most urgent of the environmental problems because this type of diversity is critical to ecosystem services and human health. Mason argues that the modern chemical-intensive industrialized system of food and agriculture is the main culprit.

New research conducted in Germany supports the contention that we are heading for an “ecological Armageddon” — similar to the situation described by Mason. The study shows the abundance of flying insects has plunged by three-quarters over the past 25 years. The research data was gathered in nature reserves across Germany and has implications for all landscapes dominated by agriculture as it seems likely that the widespread use of pesticides is an important factor.

Cited in The Guardian, Sussex University professor Dave Goulson, who is part of the team behind the new study, says, “We appear to be making vast tracts of land inhospitable to most forms of life… If we lose the insects then everything is going to collapse.”

In the same piece, it is noted that flying insects are vital because they pollinate flowers. Moreover, many, not least bees, are important for pollinating key food crops. Most fruit crops are insect-pollinated and insects also provide food for many animals, including birds, bats, some mammals, fish, reptiles and amphibians. Flies, beetles and wasps are also predators and important decomposers, breaking down dead plants and animals, and insects form the base of thousands of food chains.

The blatant disregard over the use of these substances by regulatory agencies around the world is apparent.

Rosemary Mason has been providing detailed accounts of massive insect declines on her own nature reserve in South Wales for some time. She has published first-hand accounts of the destruction of biodiversity on the reserve in various books and documents that have been submitted to relevant officials and pesticide regulation authorities in the U.K. and beyond. The research from Germany validates her findings.

Mason has written numerous open letters to officials citing reams of statistical data to support the contention that agrochemicals, especially Monsanto’s glyphosate-based Roundup, have devastated the natural environment and have also led to spiralling rates of illness and disease, especially among children.

She indicates how the widespread use on agricultural crops of neonicotinoid insecticides and the herbicide glyphosate, both of which cause immune suppression, make species vulnerable to emerging infectious pathogens, driving large-scale wildlife extinctions, including essential pollinators.

Providing evidence to show how human disease patterns correlate remarkably well with the rate of glyphosate usage on corn, soy and wheat crops, which has increased due to ‘Roundup Ready’ crops, Mason indicates how our over-reliance on chemicals in agriculture is causing irreparable harm to all beings on this planet.

The global pesticides industry has created chemicals of mass destruction and succeeded in getting many of their poisons on the commercial market by highly questionable means:

“The EPA has been routinely lying about the safety of pesticides since it took over pesticide registrations in 1970,” writes Carol Van Strum.

Van Strum highlights the faked data and fraudulent tests that led to many highly toxic agrochemicals reaching the market — and they still remain in use, regardless of the devastating impacts on wildlife and human health.

The blatant disregard over the use of these substances by regulatory agencies around the world is apparent.

The research from Germany follows a warning by a chief scientific adviser to the U.K. government who claimed that regulators around the world have falsely assumed that it is safe to use pesticides at industrial scales across landscapes and the “effects of dosing whole landscapes with chemicals have been largely ignored.”

And prior to that particular warning, there was a report delivered to the UN Human Rights Council saying that pesticides have catastrophic impacts on the environment, human health and society as a whole. Authored by Hilal Elver, special rapporteur on the right to food, and Baskut Tuncak, special rapporteur on toxics, the report states, “Chronic exposure to pesticides has been linked to cancer, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, hormone disruption, developmental disorders and sterility.”

Elver says:

“The power of the corporations over governments and over the scientific community is extremely important. If you want to deal with pesticides, you have to deal with the companies.”

The report recommends a move towards a global treaty to govern the use of pesticides and (like many other official reports) a shift to sustainable practice based on natural methods of suppressing pests and crop rotation and organically produced food.

Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring (1962) raised the red flag about the use of harmful synthetic pesticides, yet, despite the warnings, the agrochemical giants have ever since been conning us with snake oil under the pretense of “feeding the world.” When you drench soil with proprietary synthetic chemicals, introduce company-patented genetically tampered crops or continuously monocrop as part of a corporate-controlled industrial farming system, you kill essential microbes, upset soil balance and end up feeding soil a limited “doughnut diet” of unhealthy inputs.

In their arrogance (and ignorance), these companies claim to know what they are doing and attempt to get the public and various agencies to bow before the altar of corporate ‘science’ and its scientific priesthood.

Modern farming is in effect a principal source of global toxification and soil degradation.

Chemical-intensive Green Revolution technology and ideology has effectively uprooted indigenous/traditional agriculture across the planet and has recast farming according to the needs of global agribusiness and its supply chains. This has had devastating effects on regions, rural communities, diets, soils, health and water pollution. However, this financially lucrative venture for transnational corporations continues apace, spearheaded by the Gates Foundation in Africa and the World Bank’s “enabling the business of agriculture.”

It took a long time to curtail the activities of big tobacco. Tackling big agribusiness and its entrenchment within the heart of governments and international institutions is urgent. Unfortunately, given the scale of the problem and what is at stake, time is not on our side.

10/26/2017    Colin Todhunter    Independent Writer/Analyst
 


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Should I Be Concerned About Pesticides in My Coffee?

Why you should check your coffee label twice.

For most North Americans, waking up with a fresh cup of coffee is the only way to get out of bed. But next to organic strawberries and organic cereal, you might be forgetting about pesticide-free coffee.

Recently, coffee has appeared on a number of lists for containing pesticides. Some groups and articles suggest agrochemicals used on stems and leaves could affect coffee beans, “in which case coffee beans could be carrying their residues.” Meanwhile other studies find the high roasting temperatures eliminate most pesticide residues, although in one study “green, roasted and instant coffee samples” treated with insecticide directly on the leaves contained residues.

While the health risks on the consumer are likely minimal and still a matter of debate, there’s no question about the impacts of pesticides on the environment and farm workers. Coffee is one of the largest and most important crops in the world, worth roughly $16.5 billion in the United States alone. The International Coffee Organization estimatesthere are nearly 26 million people employed in the coffee business across 52 countries. Next to Brazil and the European Union, the United States is one of the largest consumers of coffee and the largestmarket for organic coffee. Still, you might think organic coffee (farmed without the use of pesticides) would be close to conventional coffee in numbers. But organic coffee only accounts for 6.6 percentof the world’s harvested coffee.

It’s no wonder organic coffee hasn’t taken the coffee world over. In “Organic coffee: Why Latin America’s farmers are abandoning it” Ezra Fieser reports that farmers can get roughly 485 pounds more coffee from one acre, applying 250 pounds of chemical fertilizer per acre. Compare this to 285 pounds on an organic farm. He adds, Latin American farmers had made the switch to organic crops but they couldn’t sell their coffee at the higher price. “From Mexico to Costa Rica, at least 10 percent of growers [defected] in the past three years.”

Growing conventional coffee will also be affected by climate change. According to the International Trade Centre, climate change will mean an increase in pests and diseases. This could mean a greater dependence on pesticides and possibly even more coffee grown under irrigation, which would mean water supplies would also suffer.

 

The use of pesticides continues to add to soil erosion and polluted waters from soil runoff. And there’s still another problem with pesticides. According to the IFC, it’s estimated that in Africa alone, “there could be as much as 50,000 tons of obsolete pesticides” stored in hazardous stockpiles. The problem with disposal of pesticide is difficult because it can cost $3,000 to $5,000 per ton to remove. But, because the materials are not all the same, there’s “no blanket solution.”

Although studies have been conflicted on pesticide residues in drinking coffee, there’s a bigger consensus when it comes to farmer safety. In a recent study, scientists surveyed a random sample of 81 coffee farmers in eastern Jamaica where coffee production employs “more than 50,000 people and contributes 7 percent of the island’s agricultural earnings.”

In the study 78 percent of the farmers experienced symptoms related to pesticide handling, including “dizziness, headaches, difficult breathing and tightness in the chest.” Much of this could be attributed to improper handling and little to no training on pesticide handling — a common problem in countries with no oversight or regulation. In four of the observation sessions, not a single farmer used protection like a facemask or rubber gloves. Battling pests like the coffee cherry borer and coffee rust is much easier if you have a toxic pesticide to kill them. Unfortunately a number of pesticides being used have been linked to animal and wildlife deaths and in some cases human deaths.

For millions of coffee aficionados, the coffee of choice comes from Starbucks. It’s true Starbucks is one of the largest purchasers of coffee. They have made it their mission to provide fairtrade coffee and report that 95.3 percent of their coffee is ethically sourced. Still, organic coffee is harder to come at a Starbucks because only 1.1 percent of Starbucks’ coffee is organic.

All the types of coffee labels could make your head spin more than a quadruple shot espresso. There’s organic, fairtrade, shade-grown (which mean the coffee is grown under shade, signifying its commitment to the rainforest). Utz-certified coffee provides traceability programs and fair labor for farm workers and an “appropriate and modest use of fertilizers, pesticides, water and energy. Almost half of all fairtrade is certified organic as well. But on the issue of pesticides, if you want organic you’ll still want to verify the USDA organic label, as there are strict rules for any imports being labeled organic.

Clarissa A. Leon is AlterNet’s food editor. She formerly served as an investigative research assistant at The Daily Beast and The Nation Institute. 

By Clarissa A. León / AlterNet July 30, 2014


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9 Pesticide-filled Teas You Should Never Buy (and the Kind You Should!)

Tea is one of the most popular drinks enjoyed around the world.

Americans drink up to 80 billion cups of tea a year while their Canadian neighbors drink almost 10 billion cups of tea a year (1,2).

Since tea is often praised as a healthy drink, The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) decided to investigate whether or not the most popular tea brands contained traces of pesticides in their products that could undermine the health benefits of the tea.

They found out that an inspection done by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) three years ago concluded that 1 in 4 teas contained pesticide residue far above the safety limit set by Health Canada. Both the dry leaves and steeped tea contained these traces.

To find out if the worst offenders are still on the market, CBC hired an accredited lab to retest some of Canada’s most popular brands, including Lipton, Red Rose, Tetley, and Twinings.

tea

The full list includes:

  • Twinings – Earl Grey
  • Tetley – green tea
  • Lipton – yellow label black tea
  • Signal – orange pekoe
  • Uncle Lee’s Legends of China – jasmine green tea
  • King Cole – orange pekoe
  • No Name – black tea
  • Uncle Lee’s Legends of China – green tea
  • Lipton – pure green tea
  • Red Rose – orange pekoe

They rigorously followed the testing method employed by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to ensure accurate results.

The investigation revealed that half the teas had traces of pesticides higher than the legal limit in Canada. Some even contained pesticides banned worldwide.

Pesticides In Tea: The 3 Worst Offenders!

6/10 of the teas tested contained a cocktail of pesticides, but each was below Canadian limits. These three, however, were way above these guidelines.

1. Twinings Earl Grey

This classic tea is considered a relatively high quality bagged tea. However, it placed third highest in pesticide content. Most alarmingly, this tea was repeatedly found to contain acetamiprid, a poison that causes severe nausea and vomiting, muscle weakness, hypothermia, convulsions, and hypoxia in small quantities (3).

2. Tetley Green Tea

Tetley green tea has been shown to contain both acetamiprid and chlorfenapyr, which is fatal in small quantities. Chlorfenapyr has delayed effects, causing death or damage to the central nervous system up to two weeks after ingestion. The CBC report showed that Tetley’s tea had 18 pesticides in its finished product, 3 over the allowable limit (4).

3. Uncle Lee’s Legends of China green tea

Uncle Lee’s Legends of China is the most toxic tea sold in Canadian grocery stores. It contained the same pesticides as Tetley as well as dangerous levels of Bifenthrin, a known carcinogen. It contained traces of 22 Pesticides, 6 of which in illegal quantities (5).

It’s far from the only Chinese tee with illegal pesticides. Countless Chinese tea producers routinely use pesticides banned by China’s Ministry of Agriculture (6).

The Unexpected Winner

Of all the teas tested by CBC, Red Rose was the only brand that contained zero pesticides. The tea brand has made many efforts in recent years to be more ecofriendly and ethical. It has now received Rainforest Alliance Certification and Fair Trade Certified (6).

This proves that it is possible for a profitable business to give its customers pesticide-free products at a large scale.

Health Canada’s Response

Despite the alarming results revealed by the investigation, Health Canada insists that these pesticides aren’t a public health concern.

“Health Canada reviewed the information provided by Marketplace and for the pesticides bifenthrin, imidacloprid, acetamiprid, chlorfenapyr, pyridaben, acephate, dicofol and monocrotophos determined that consumption of tea containing the residues listed does not pose a health risk based on the level of residues reported, expected frequency of exposure and contribution to overall diet. Moreover, a person would have to consume approximately 75 cups of tea per day over their entire lifetime to elicit an adverse health effect,” a spokesperson wrote to the CBC in a statement.

But not everyone agrees :”This is very worrisome from a number of perspectives,” environmental lawyer David Boyd told CBC.

“I think that’s a complete abdication of CFIA’s responsibility to protect Canadian people. The reality is that there is emerging science about the impacts of pesticides at very low concentrations,” he says.

“The whole point of pesticides is that they’re chemically and biologically active in parts per million or parts per billion…Pesticides can have adverse effects at what are seemingly very small concentrations.”

Choosing Pesticide Free Tea

The simplest way to avoid sipping on pesticides in tea (or other unwanted substances) along with your tea is by choosing loose-leaf unflavored organic products.

“Natural” or “herbal” teas that are not certified organic won’t be any better than the teas tested above, so make sure to read the labels carefully. Flavored teas will likely contain unwanted additives like soy lecithin and natural or artificial flavors.

It’s also worth noting that tea bags can be made of plastic fibers that leak hormone-disrupting toxins into your cup (7).