There is a lot of controversy regarding the food we eat. Should we eat totally natural products that have been grown without the use of chemicals?. Should we steer clear of food that has been genetically engineered (GE) plus food that has been genetically modified (GM)? There are opposing camps who both have very strong cases to support their stance with regard to the food we eat. One camp is for GM and GE, the other is totally against the use of anything that is not natural, so support Organic farming. As a sit on the fence person when it comes to these questions I shall investigate.
When you pick up food stuff in the supermarket generally they are labelled stating whether they have additives or if they are Organic and therefore a natural product. Organic food has been processed minimally, has no antibiotics, sweeteners, hormones, colourings or flavourings that were not already present naturally in the food in the first place. Food such as meat, fruit, vegetables and nuts can all be bought in their organic state.
People who want organic food stuffs must look out for the labelling in the shops that should indicate whether they are organic or not. It must say 100% organic to be truly so. If a label says organic then it has to have at least 95% natural organic ingredients. On the other hand if a label says made with organic ingredients then it only has to have up to 70%. This just goes to show why the reading and understanding of the labelling system is crucial to the selection you will make.
For meat and dairy it is different. Natural means processed to a minimum, Free Range means animals were free to roam and were not caged, No Added Hormones means just that, animals were not given hormones, while Grass Fed indicates that animals were kept outside, fed on grass or hay and were free to roam. For fish unless the label says “Wild” and no other wording then it is not strictly organic.
People who support the organic lobby believe that organic food is superior to all other types. This is of course a matter of opinion. They believe nutritionally organic is superior to any other as they contain anti-oxidants, vitamins, minerals, enzymes and amino acids, nutrients. These nutrients are depleted when subject to industrial processing and cooking.
Organic farmers do not use pesticides, recycle livestock manure, use crop rotation to control weed growth and insects that blight crops, do not tamper with the genes of animals, plus does not irradiate food in any way. Organic farming has increased greatly in the last ten years and continues to do so.
G M Foods
Genetically modified products have had changes introduced to their DNA by using genetic engineering processes. The sale of food that has been GM began back in 1994. A company called Calgene produced a GM tomato that had a delay mechanism in its ripening process. GM that is done to foods is supposed to be of benefit such as giving a food extra nutrients,or a resistance to pathogens while GM in animals is still in its infancy when it comes to being modified.
There have been many objections to GM foods including safety issues, environmental issues and financial and long term effects. Before it gets to the farming stage a genetically engineered plant is grown in the laboratory. The make up is changed by adding more genes to a plants genome. Once plants are grown then seeds are gathered which have to be approved by regulators who decide if the seeds are okay. Once approved they can then be reproduced and sold on to farmers who will plant them to produce GM crops. Farmers then sell on their crops to countries that approve of such foods. A whole range of fruit, vegetables and cereals have been genetically modified in recent years.
There is a regulatory body that monitors the production of GM foods. These government bodies assess the risk factors of GM foods. Regulations differ greatly between countries such as the European Union States and The United States of America. Exportation and importation of GM products is also monitored along these lines.
The top three GM crops grown up to 2008 were Soya Beans, Maize and Cotton with Rapeseed, Alfalfa and Papaya also in production. Ninety percent of GM crops are grown in just four countries, they are Argentina, Brazil, Canada and America with America producing the largest proportion. Most crops are altered for two things, herbicide tolerance and insect resistance. Of course the argument for saving the environment has a plus in terms of these two features. As these crops are bug resistant with no need for chemical sprays it is argued that the C02 saving is phenomenal being similar to taking 6.3 million cars off the roads.
Other supporting factors for GM crops are, drought resistant crops could help solve food shortages in areas of the world that are short of water or fresh produce can be made to last longer so it ripens on the plant therefore can travel easily with less wastage. So far there is no evidence that GM foods are harmful to humans. This sounds great but not being harmful is not the same as safe to eat guarantees, so think about it.
As an impartial I can see both sides to this argument. Organic is natural and good but it doesn’t solve the world food crisis brought about by soaring populations or drought and other natural catastrophes. Unless it is proven emphatically that GM foods harm humans then they will continue to be produced and sold to consumers. It is for the individual to read and decide for themselves.
Organic food recipes can be found at Organic Authority. Com