Rather than focusing on the presence of pesticide residues, the new test looks at how organic crops are fertilised, which the Danish researchers say offers a “deeper, more accurate” analysis of whether an organic food label is accurate.
Having an alternative, or complementary, verification test will help maintain confidence in organic at a time when organic fraud has become a significant problem in some parts of the world.
“Nobody really knows the extent of this type of fraud, but we have seen bad examples from abroad that extend well beyond organic products. Rice made of plastic, wine with toxins, artificial honey, etc. There is not always a health risk associated with food fraud, but it is clear that when you pay a higher price, you expect the product that you are paying for. And, of course, honest producers must be protected,” says assistant professor Kristian Holst Laursen.
“While a major eco-labelling scandal has yet to occur in Denmark, we often forget that our diet is sourced globally, and that our foods are often imported from countries where problems have been documented. For example, in southern Europe, where a large quantity of organic fruits and vegetables are sourced,”
Kristian Holst Laursen’s research group is currently working with the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration and the method is said to be ready for further testing, approval and use by public agencies and commercial interests.
A study helps answer a question many of us ask when deciding whether to buy organic food: does it really make a difference?
A study shows that eating organic can dramatically decrease the pesticides you’re exposed to. Photograph: Dave Martin/AP
When Andreina Febres, a mother of two living in Oakland, California, signed up for a study evaluating whether an organic diet could make a difference in the amount of pesticides found in her body, she didn’t know what researchers would find. But her family, and the three others across the country that participated, would discover that they all had detectable levels of the pesticides being tracked. They would also discover that after only six days on an organic diet, every single person would see significant drops in those pesticides, including several linked to increased risk of autism, cancer, Parkinson’s, infertility, and other significant impacts on health.
“It’s good to see that just after a week there was a dramatic drop,” Febres said after seeing the results. “I would love to get those pesticides out of my body and my family’s bodies.”
This just-published peer-reviewed study helps answer a question many of us ask when deciding whether to reach for the conventional or organic option at the store: does organic really make a difference? The results say yes, a big difference. Choosing organic can protect you from exposure to toxic pesticides.
This study, led by researchers at University of California, Berkeley and Friends of the Earth, and co-authored by one of us, tracked pesticide levels in four families from across the country for two weeks. The first week, the families ate their typical diets of non-organic food; the following week, they ate completely organic. Urine samples taken over the course of the study were tested for pesticides and the chemicals pesticides break down into, called metabolites.
The results? Of the 14 chemicals tested, every single member of every family had detectable levels. After switching to an organic diet, these levels dropped dramatically. Levels across all pesticides dropped by more than half on average. Detectable levels for the pesticide malathion, a probable human carcinogen according to the World Health Organization, decreased a dramatic 95% .
More Than 40 Percent of World’s Insect Species on Fast-track to Extinction
Authors of a major new scientific review of the catastrophic decline of insects say a “serious reduction in pesticide usage” is key to preventing the extinction of up to 41 percent of the world’s insects within the “next few” decades.
The review, published online this week in Biological Conservation, highlights that reversing the insect declines will require an “urgent” push to replace the ever-escalating use of harmful synthetic pesticides and fertilizers with more ecologically based, sustainable farming practices.
“This analysis is an alarming wake-up call that we need to dramatically reduce pesticide use,” said Tara Cornelisse, an entomologist and senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Dumping more and more insecticides on our food crops is like fixing a noise under the hood by yanking out the car’s engine. Insects are the foundation of every healthy ecosystem, so we need to quit poisoning landscapes with millions of pounds of toxic pesticides every year.”
Among the authors’ most sweeping conclusions is that
“A rethinking of current agricultural practices, in particular a serious reduction in pesticide usage and its substitution with more sustainable, ecologically-based practices, is urgently needed to slow or reverse current trends, allow the recovery of declining insect populations and safeguard the vital ecosystem services they provide.”
The meta-analysis of 73 studies assessing insect declines over a period of at least 10 years found that industrial farming practices driving habitat loss and extensive use of pesticides and fertilizers is associated with 47 percent of reported declines.
The authors found clear evidence for decline in all insect groups reviewed, but especially for butterflies and moths, native bees, beetles, and aquatic insects like dragonflies. It is estimated that half of butterflies, moths and beetles are declining at about 2 percent per year, and one in six bee species has disappeared in many regions.
A growing body of research indicates that insects are declining about twice as fast as vertebrates.
Earlier studies of insect loss showed declines of insect specialists — those that need specific habitat for nesting, or pollinate only one type of flower. But more and more studies are now documenting large-scale insect loss that includes generalist species, like the endangered rusty patched bumble bee, that were once common throughout their range.
The decline of widely ranging generalist insect species shows that habitat loss, alone, is not enough to explain insect declines. Mounting evidence now demonstrates that a significant driver is the widespread use of pesticides and fertilizers.
“We know neonicotinoid pesticides are a major cause of bee decline and are working to ban them, but this review highlights the urgent need for sweeping pesticide reform,” Cornelisse said. “That reform must start with the EPA replacing its long, troubling embrace of pesticide makers with a truly independent review process for assessing these dangerous poisons.”
“This protest shows that the desire for a different agricultural policy is now undeniable.”
Organizers said 35,000 people marched through the streets of the German capital on Saturday to say they’re “fed up” with industrial agriculture and call for a transformation to a system that instead supports the welfare of the environment, animals, and rural farmers.
Many held placards reading “Eating is political” at the action in Berlin, which coincided with the so-called “Green Week” agricultural fair.
The protest also featured a procession of 170 farmers driving tractors to the rally at the Brandenburg Gate.
“This protest,” said Green party co-leader Robert Habeck, “shows that the desire for a different agricultural policy is now undeniable.”
That flowed mainly to larger companies focused on boosting yields, they said, but instead the funds should be distributed better to avert further farmyard closures and rural village die-offs.
“With over €6 billion that Germany distributes every year as EU farming monies, environmental and animal-appropriate transformation of agriculture must be promoted,” said protest spokesperson Saskia Richartz.
Slow Food Europe captured some of the scenes on social media, and stated in a Twitter thread: “We believe that instead of propping up agro-industries, politicians should support the determination of small-scale farmers to keep climate-friendly farms, which are the future of agriculture.”
Does gardening sound like too much work to you? I’m going to shoot straight with you; it can be overwhelming at times.
However, it is work with a hefty reward. You get tons of fresh vegetables and fruit. You also know where they came from and what went into them, giving you peace of mind that you are not ingesting harmful chemicals.
Also, gardening is a great way to get outside, enjoy the fresh air, and get a natural Vitamin D boost as well.
If this sounds great to you, you’ll need to understand that a garden needs care. I’m going to share with you the necessary steps you’ll need to follow to give your garden the proper care.
That way, you can enjoy an excellent harvest and keep your garden under control to avoid feeling overwhelmed. Here is what you need to do:
The organic food movement suffered a major setback recently, when the US National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) voted in favor of allowing hydroponically-grown products to receive the “organic” label. This decision should not have come as a surprise to those who have watched the organic movement steadily taken over by big agribusiness – a process that began in 1990 when Congress required the USDA to create a single set of national standards that would define the meaning of “organic”.