5 Shocking Facts About Pesticides Used on Food

In the light of the recent elections to mandate GMO labeling (which sadly did not pass), I decided to educate myself more about the mysteries of America’s agricultural industry. So I decided to turn my romantic chick flick movie night, into an educational one and watched Our Daily Poisona documentary by Marie Monique-Robin, author of “The World According to Monsanto.”

Organic Farmers Market Produce

Organic Farmers Market Veggies

This film blew my mind. It seems that the general population was much more alarmed by the use of pesticides in our food back in the 1960s, when these chemicals were first introduced into our food chain. More than 50 years later, these efforts have long died out and we seem to have accepted that using pesticides on our food is actually quite normal. This film makes it apparent that the government, not just within the US, but international committees as well, including the World Health Organization, has not done a very good job in being transparent when it comes to the reporting and monitoring of these poisons and their harmful effects on humans.

organic dry farmed tomatoes summer

Organic Dry Farmed Tomatoes

Here are the Top 5 Shocking Facts About the Pesticide Industry:

1. Not all pesticides have been tested for safety. 

Out of the 900+ pesticides and insecticides currently on the market in France, only 20-30 of these chemicals have actually been tested for harmful effects on humans.

2. The Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) of pesticides is based solely on studies conducted on lab rats.

The ADI is the daily dosage of chemical that a living organism can take over an entire lifetime without experiencing any harmful side effects. The ADI for humans is calculated by taking the ADI conducted on lab rats, and dividing that number by a factor of 100.Where does this factor of 100 come from? It is an arbitrary number that a few toxicologists came up with in a board room in response to the pressure being received from the public to determine a dosage that was “healthy” for human consumption. Supposedly, dividing the ADI for rats by a factor of 100 is enough to account for the biological differences between rats and humans, as well as all of the factors that differentiate human beings from one another including: age, gender, weight, ethnicity, diet, etc.

That doesn’t sound very scientific to me…

3. The Maximum Residue Limit (MRL), which is the amount of chemical residue left on produce that is considered safe for human consumption, is calculated from the ADI.

Each pesticide that is used on our food, is assigned an MRL. However, what good is this MRL, if it is based off arbitrary calculations of ADI? Also, how will a single, prescribed MRL dosage, account for all humans? Let’s say a bodybuilder eats 10 apples in a day and suffers no harmful effects, would the same apply for a 6 yr old boy who eats the same amount?

4. Still, today, there is no established organization that is in charge of testing pesticides that are entering the market.

The only testing that is being done, is by the manufacturers themselves, who actually own the data. They bombard WHO with this data by submitting thousands of pages for verification, which would take months just to look through. Are we even certain that Monsanto will tell us that their newest fungicide actually caused cancer in their lab rats? I don’t think so.

5. These same processes apply for other chemicals that we are exposed to on a daily basis, including: artificial sweeteners, flavorings, coloring, and preservatives.

Statements made previously by the FDA regarding the possible risks associated with these chemicals, were largely bypassed because of big money that these manufacturers are bringing in. For example: Despite a statement made by the FDA back in 1980 that aspartame “might induce brain tumors”, it is used today as an artificial sweetener in almost all products that we ingest on a daily basis. In fact, the FDA has already banned aspartame not once, but twice! From chewing gum to baked goods, to diet sodas and even toothpaste, aspartame has found its way into becoming a staple in our food chain.

Rainbow-Chard

Rainbow Chard

In fact, many farmers who have experienced chemical poisoning from using pesticides on their farms have trouble claiming those toxic chemicals as the reason for their disabilities. Harmful effects due to pesticide exposure are not observed immediately, they take time to develop, as is the case with Parkinson’s disease which many of the farmers in this film are tragically afflicted with. Thus, it is easy for manufacturers to escape blame.

Who can we trust? It’s scary to think that in a first-world country, we’d assume that we’d be protected by these apparent dangers. However, in our modern society, it is big money that actually runs the world. Eating organic is not a fad, it’s a way to save your life.

Detox Kale Salad with Rainbow Chard and quinoa

Detox Kale Salad

I must admit, I don’t always eat organic. As a young working professional, living in the most expensive city in America, it’s difficult for me to go for the apples that cost $3.99 per pound versus the ones that cost a  mere 99 cents. However, I’ve made the decision to no longer live in the dark, but to educate myself and shed some light on the substances that I choose to nourish my body with. I think spending a few extra dollars at the grocery stores is worth the prevention of cancer.

Do you eat organic? If not, why not? What are the main obstacles you experience when it comes to choosing produce at the market? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

 

 

Sources:

Our Daily Poison. Dir. Marie-Monique Robin. 2011. Documentary.

http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/mrls/index.asp

http://www.ecpa.eu/faq/what-maximum-residue-level-mrl-and-how-are-they-set

http://www.foodsmart.govt.nz/whats-in-our-food/chemicals-nutrients-additives-toxins/agricultural-production/mrls/

http://www.collective-evolution.com/2013/01/19/the-shocking-story-of-how-aspartame-became-legal/

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