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Expanded- Eating with a Conscience: For You, Workers and Environment

(Beyond Pesticides, September 22, 2010) Consumer food buying decisions have a direct effect on the health of the environment and those who grow and harvest food. Beyond Pesticides released its expanded Eating with a Conscience guide –now updated to include the 43 of the most commonly eaten fruits and vegetables, which shows consumers why, according to the group, “food labeled organic is the right choice.” Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides, said, “In addition to serious health questions linked to actual residues of toxic pesticides on the food we eat, our food buying decisions support or reject hazardous agricultural practices, protection of farmworkers, and stewardship of the earth.”

Eating with a Conscience explains to consumers the effect they are having on health and the environment when they purchase food grown with chemical-intensive methods, even if a large number of residues do not remain on the finished food product. The group points to organic-certified food with the USDA organic seal as “the only system of food labeling that is subject to independent public review and oversight –ensuring consumers that toxic chemicals used to kill insects and unwanted plants (or weeds) in chemical-intensive food production are replaced by management practices focused on soil biology, biodiversity, and plant health.”

“Organic practices under the Organic Foods Production Act eliminate commonly used toxic chemicals in the production and processing of food that is not labeled organic, pesticides that contaminate our water and air, hurt biodiversity, harm farmworkers, and kill bees, birds, fish and other wildlife,” said Mr. Feldman.

Recent media attention has focused consumers on purchasing foods that are often referred to as “clean,” but grown with toxic chemicals that show up as residues on their food in small amounts or are not detectable. While this approach alerts consumers to hazardous residues on food, those very same “clean” food commodities can be grown with hazardous pesticides that wash off into waterways and groundwater, contaminate nearby communities, poison farmworkers, and kill wildlife.

For example, while conventional onions grown with toxic chemicals show low pesticide residues on the finished commodity, Eating with a Conscience explains that there are 63 pesticides with established tolerances for onions: 26 are acutely toxic creating a hazardous environment for farmworkers, 59 are linked to chronic health problems (such as cancer), 8 contaminate streams or groundwater, and 55 are poisonous to wildlife. While not all listed pesticides are applied to every onion, they may be used in the production of all onions, making it impossible at the point of sale to identify which specific chemicals are used.

With its Eating with a Conscience guide, Beyond Pesticides is asking consumers to, when possible, buy organic food and make the “right food choice –good for you, the environment and workers.” To view the database, go to www.EatingWithAConscience.org.


One Response to “Expanded- Eating with a Conscience: For You, Workers and Environment”

  1. 1
    Beyond Pesticides Says:

    From Facebook –

    David R Barber: not all conventional farmers use all approved sprays, the best thing is to get to know your farmer. half of all organic sprays are also carcinogenic (September 22 at 6:06pm)

    Sue Woolsey: Go organic! (September 22 at 6:15pm)

    Lucia Perry: Going organic is better for everyone, ourselves, our Earth, the waters, the animals. Complete the cycle, don’t rob from the soil and then throw it all away! (September 22 at 10:43pm)

    Trish Kahler: YEP a gift demands a gift!(September 23 at 7:38am)

    Beyond Pesticides: David – The Organic Foods Production Act instructs that the following questions are asked when considering inputs in organic production:
    – Are there adverse impacts on humans or the environment?
    – Is the substance essential for organic production?
    – Is the substance compatible with organic production practices?

    The National Organic Standards Board uses the following checklist when deciding whether to approve materials for organic production:
    – Is there a toxic or other adverse action of the material or its breakdown products?
    – Are there adverse effects on environment from manufacture, use, or disposal?
    – Is the substance harmful to the environment and biodiversity?
    – Does the substance contain List 1, 2, or 3 inerts?
    – Is there potential for detrimental chemical interaction with other materials used?
    – Are there adverse biological and chemical interactions in agro-ecosystem?
    – Are there detrimental physiological effects on soil organisms, crops, or livestock? (September 23 at 11:04am)

    David R Barber: ok so why do certified organic practices allow rotenone which is carcinogenic and extremely toxic to all aquatic life? (just 1 example) please don’t think I’m against organic it’s just that the rules are messed up. If you’re a certified fruit grower the 1st thing you do in the spring is apply a dormant oil spray, petroleum based, when vege oil will work. because they don’t want to spend the extra $ for vege oil. Rattlesnake poison is natural but no one wants to use it. Ryania (sp) was only outlawed about 5 years ago and was approved and used by organic growers for 40 years. (September 23 at 2:51pm)

    Reece Wilson: Eek (September 25 at 3:43am)

    Beyond Pesticides: David – While there is always room for improvement, I think we would agree that organic agriculture is much better than conventional agriculture. When there is a problem with the organic system, there is a process for the public to weigh in on what is allowable in organic production. The USDA maintains a “National List” of the synthetic substances that may be used and the non-synthetic substances that may not be used in organic production. The public may petition to have any material added or removed from the list. We encourage you to put together a list of materials that shouldn’t be allowed and petition USDA. You could start with Rotenone. We would be happy to help you out. Here’s a link to the petition process: http://bit.ly/9rey5Z. (September 28 at 3:00pm)

    David R Barber: personally I think to say only organic always is like another religion, we need to take the good from all places. there are conventional sprays that biodegrade also and many are the same chemical composition as the organic ones just synthesized. The best thing about organic practices are what we do to feed the soil instead of the plants. (September 28 at 5:00pm)

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