A 2nd mother-forker’s view on organic research

5 Oct

Gvreader left a comment on my Oct. 1 post that made me think, any other pitfalls in any organic research including the one featured on NPR.

First, organic production itself may be a victim of the conventional agriculture. The earth, including the air, soil and water, has been contaminated with all sorts of chemicals since the start of industrialized agriculture, and although organic agriculture does its best to keep a ‘safe’ distance, both spatially and timely, from industrialized agriculture, it may not be going too far.

For instance, the research from the Food and Drug Administration and a leading consumer group, Consumer Reports found arsenic levels in virtually all of the hundreds of samples of rice and rice-based foods, including cereals, crackers and rice milk (that’s devastating for me, a rice-loving Asian). Yes, rice plant is good at absorb arsenic, which naturally occur in water and soil, however, “evidence that the Southern states – Arkansas, Louisiana and Missouri and Texas – produce rice with generally higher levels of total arsenic compared to, say, California”, suggested that pesticide “residue in the soils from former cotton fields could have caused the higher levels”.

The funny thing is that Gerber and Earth’s Best Organic Whole Grain Rice contains trace arsenic at 150 to 250 parts per billion (ppb) range, which is higher than the non-organic Kellogg’s Rice Krispies (85 to 90 ppb). That just tells you that chemical ‘ghosts’ are probably everywhere.

So some studies that compared organic and conventional food on people were really comparing organic food (not knowingly contaminated by chemicals) to conventionals.

Secondly, those studies did NOT or failed to document the effect of organic practices on the environment, which will eventually affect human health in the long run. I understand that studies like this ought to be long-term. With budget cuts and pressure to publish and everything else, I’m not sure how many researchers have the willingness and grant funding to do that long-term research. Plus, they’re not going to get any help from the mega chemical companies.

The increasing organic practices may not have caused changes in quality yet.

So what are we supposed to do, if some organics are even worse than the conventionals (in the case of the aforementioned arsenic in rice)? I believe that changes in quantity will eventually lead to changes in quality, which may not happen to us, but will to our kids and grandkids and theirs.

To be more specific, we could vote three times a day (I’m stealing this phrase from documentary Food Inc.) by choosing what we put on table for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

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One Response to “A 2nd mother-forker’s view on organic research”

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  1. A 2nd mother-forker’s view on organic research « greenviion - October 5, 2012

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