(NaturalNews) Talk to someone about organic versus conventional food. What's the first topic to come up? Pesticide residue. Pesticide residue is, however, only a small part of the reason to buy organic.
Synthetic Fertilizers Conventional agriculture spreads enough synthetic fertilizer each year to cover one-eighth of the country. Plants absorb some of it, but the rest runs off into streams, lakes, rivers and eventually the ocean. Algae feed on these fertilizers and grow into giant "blooms." These blooms consume huge amounts of oxygen and choke out fish and other marine life. The Gulf of Mexico alone has a 3,000 to 8,000 square mile dead zone, where nothing can live but fertilizer-fed algae. That's an area roughly the size of Los Angeles County, now completely dead. Buying conventional produce contributes to the death of our waterways.
Farmer Health Pesticides have been linked to non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, leukemia, skin cancer, miscarriages, neurological problems, and a host of other ills. Methyl iodide, which is sprayed on strawberry fields in California to kill fungus, is used to induce cancer in laboratory animals. Conventional agriculture asks farm workers to live and work in a pesticide-saturated environment. Studies show that every child, who lives and works on these farms, carries these toxic, carcinogenic chemicals in his/her body. Buying conventional produce is hiring farm workers and their families to absorb poisons and carry them within their bodies.
Antibiotic Resistance Conventional agriculture routinely adds antibiotics to farm animal food. In fact, 70 percent of all antibiotics sold in the U.S. are fed to healthy animals. This practice is breeding antibiotic-resistant bacteria at a record pace. Bacteria become resistant to antibiotics by being exposed to them steadily over a long period of time. It's like any other form of natural selection; the weak bacteria die when exposed to antibiotics, and the strong survive and pass down their genes to the next generation. Half of all U.S. meat and poultry is now contaminated by antibiotic resistant Staphylococcus bacteria. Federal regulations prohibit organic producers from adding antibiotics to the feed of healthy animals. Buying organic says, "no" to the current dangerous way of handling antibiotics on conventional farms.
Other Contaminants Pesticides are only one of a long list of contaminants in foods. Artificial coloring, flavoring and synthetic dyes are all allowed in conventional food but prohibited in organic. Genetically modified ingredients are also not allowed in food labeled organic. Right now, given current GMO labeling laws in the United States, if you want to be sure that your food isn't growing its own Bt toxins, your only recourse is to buy organic. If you feel GMOs aren't being tested sufficiently before being released for human consumption, buying organic says, "I won't eat that stuff until you prove it to be safe." Organic food minimizes your chance of being exposed to some of the worst contaminants allowed in conventional food.
Organic food is not a panacea. Organic food can be poorly handled. It can become contaminated just like conventionally grown food. It is, however, considerably more humane and more environmentally friendly than conventionally grown food.