Organic or Conventional Foods; which is best for an Expecting Mother?

It’s about Time you start Thinking about Your Baby!

It’s just as if it was a day ago when a large number of people were totally not paying attention to the issue raised by so many scientists with international recognitions concerning Genetically Modified Foods (GMFs). Today, nearly 20 of European countries have placed a total ban or severe restrictions on GMOs. This restriction does not exempt the pesticides that come along with the GMOs. Specifically, new 19 European countries recently place a ban on the growing of Genetically Modified foods in their countries, making reference to reasonable number of health and environmental issue caused by GMOs.

What is the Difference between Organic Food & Conventional Food?

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has issued a directive that organic farms and processors MUST not use any genetically modified ingredients during food production. This implies that organic farmers cannot plant GMO seeds, an organically reared cow cannot eat GMO feed, and an organically prepared soup must not have the taste of GMO ingredients in it and so on. Farmers and processors must be able to prove that they are not using GMOs and that they are safeguarding their products from having contacts with banned substances while moving from the farm (production site) to table (final consumption stage). Before a product is qualified as organic, it must have been free from most artificial substances, e.g. pesticides and antibiotics. (source)(source)

Conventional food, as you already know is the opposite organic foods. Pesticides can be used to spray conventional food; it contains genetically modified ingredients and as well administers antibiotics.

Eating Organic or Conventional, which is best?

In 2012, a report of a study carried out in Stanford University went viral stating that there is just a minute difference in the health benefits and safety of organic and conventional food. (source) After this publication, professionals in the environmental and health sciences department came up with a criticism that the study totally overlooked a huge and growing body of proof as per the negative effects of pesticides. Most importantly, a letter submitted to be published in the Annals of Internal Medicine challenged the study for lacking information on the amount, rate of occurrence, potential combinations, and related health threats of pesticide leftovers in sprayed food. This publication made a calculation of 94% reduction in health problems traceable to the consumption of organic foods. (source)

So is organic food more nutritious?

“In carefully designed studies comparing organic and conventional apples, strawberries, grapes, tomatoes, milk, carrots, grains and several other raw foods, organic farming leads to increases on the order of 10% to 30% in the levels of several nutrients, but not all. Vitamin C, antioxidants, and phenolic acids tend to be higher in organic food about 60% to 80% of the time, while vitamin A and protein is higher in conventional food 50% to 80% of the time.” – Charles Benbrook, research professor and program leader for Measure to Manage (M2M): Far and Food Diagnostics for Sustainability and Health at Washington State University (source)

A team led by Kristen Brant, a scientist at the Human Nutrition Research Center Newcastle University in the United Kingdom, carried out one of the most sophisticated meta-analysis of the “organic-versus-conventional food” nutrient-content debate. Their analysis was published in Critical Reviews in Plant Sciences in 2011, under the title, “Agroecosystem Management and Nutritional Quality of Plant Foods: The Cause of Organic Fruits and Vegetables.” (source)(source)

This study documents significant differences in favour of organically grown food and explains the different, yet basic farming system factors that lead to these differences. They concluded that increasing the amount of plant-available nitrogen, which is typically found in conventional farming, reduces the accumulation of (plant) defence related secondary metabolites and vitamin C, while the contents of secondary metabolites such as carotenes that are not involved in defense against disease and pests may increase.

They also found that secondary plant metabolite based nutrients in fruits and vegetables are 12 percent higher, on average, in organic food compared to conventionally grown food. Another group of nutrients that are composed of plant secondary metabolites that are involved in plant defenses against pests and response to stress were, on average, 16 percent higher.

“This subset encompasses most of the important, plant-based antioxidants that promote good health through multiple mechanisms.”

The team of researchers estimated that the consumption of organic fruits and vegetables is associated with a 12 percent higher nutrient level intake.

This is just one example of research conducted showing higher nutrient levels in organically grown food, and we are not even talking about pesticides yet.

One thing about organic food is that it’s not sprayed. A recent study conducted by researchers from RMIT university, published in the journal Environmental Research, found that an organic diet for just one week significantly reduced pesticide exposure in adults by 90 percent. (source)

Cynthia Curl, an assistant professor in the School of Allied Health Sciences Department of Community and Environmental Health at Boise State university, recently published a pesticide exposure study in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives. Results of her research indicated that among individuals eating similar amounts of vegetables and fruits, the ones who reported eating organic produce had significantly lower OP pesticide exposure than those who normally consume conventionally grown produce. You can read more about that here.

“The change in how agriculture is produced has brought, frankly, a change in the profile of diseases. We’ve gone from a pretty healthy population to one with a high rate of cancer, birth defects and illnesses seldom seen before. The tobacco companies denied the link between smoking and cancer, and took decades to recognize the truth. The biotech and agrochemical corporations are the same as the tobacco industry; they lie and favor business over the health of the population.” – Dr. Medardo Avila Vazquez, a paediatrician specializing in environmental health (source)(source)(source)

The list literally goes on and on, the pesticides that are sprayed on our food have been linked to a variety of diseases, and high risk pesticides rarely appear as residues in organic food, and when they do, the levels are usually much lower than those found in conventional foods -especially the levels in imported produce. (source)

“I recently completed an assessment of relative pesticide health risks from residues in six important fruits – strawberries, apples, grapes, blueberries, pears, and peaches. Using the latest data from USDA’s Pesticide Data Program (USDA, 2012) on these foods, I found that the overall pesticide risk level in the conventional brands was 17.5-times higher than the organic brands. The differences translate into a 94 percent reduction in health risk from the selection of organic brands.” – Charles Benbrook, research professor and program leader for Measure to Manage (M2M): Far and Food Diagnostics for Sustainability and Health at Washington State University, from his letter that was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine (source)

This is very clinically significant, and this is why more and more people are starting to be concerned about pesticide related health risks.

The work of Chensheng (Alex) Lu, from the Harvard School of public health is well known. He has shown that when school-age children switch to a predominately organic diet, exposures to organophosphate (OP) insecticides are almost completely eliminated.  (source)

“Children today are sicker than they were a generation ago. From childhood cancers to autism, birth defects and asthma, a wide range of childhood diseases and disorders are on the rise. Our assessment of the latest science leaves little room for doubt; pesticides are one key driver of this sobering trend.” October 2012 report by Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA) (source)(source)

How to make a choice between Organic and Conventional Foods If You are Pregnant

“How on earth shall we continue to be brain-washed that it was ideal to cultivate our foods with harmful substances-poisons? Also in the process, they regarded several facts as just mere ignorant views of mislead individuals and made mockery of them as unscientific and anti-science. Then they started working on how to persuade the public and government officials, through spreading fake information, that there was a strong agreement between experts, anchored on concrete evidence, that GMOs were safe for consumption” Jane Goodall said
Now, let us take a look at the information given above, which is just a portion of what’s really going on out there, and think of the safety of a pregnant woman and the fetus. GMOs together with the pesticides’ content in them are fairly young. GMOs had been in existence at the set of the 1990’s, and children born at that time are now grown-ups. We still long to see the long term effects, and it could be scary to know that no long term researches have been conducted by major government organizations attesting to how long we’ve been taking GMO foods. David Suzuki, a geneticist said “by allowing GMO to have its way into our foods without knowing and not having any indication of its presence in our foods, we have willingly become a part of the experiment. The only long term study ever conducted was done separately without sponsorship from the industry. A report published in Environmental Sciences in Europe last year, revealed that, exposure to GMO maize alongside roundup herbicide may cause cancer, liver/kidney injury and painful hormonal disorder. Roundup is readily sprayed on GM crops that are grown to resist it. (source)
Glyphosate, the active ingredient in roundup was discovered recently that it can cause cancer by the World Health Organization. (source)
The effects of using pesticides to preserve our foods have also been connected to defects in child birth.(source)           A paper published in the Pediatrics journal declared that prenatal exposure to some of the pesticides used on our foods could damage the anthropometric development of the fetus, reduce the weight of the baby, length and shape of the head.(source)
There had been several studies conducted to check diseases caused by pesticide as it relates to the fetus. You can have a look of some of them here.
Reports from various studies have it that agricultural pesticides are connected to autism. You can find these studies here.

A Canadian research also unveiled the presence of pesticides in genetically modified infants’ foods and the presence of Monsanto’s BT toxin was also discovered. The study was contained in the Journal- Reproductive Toxicology in 2011. (source)

The study arrived at a conclusion, that Monsanto’s Bt toxins are clearly evident and may cross the placenta to the fetus. The study pointed out that the fetus is considered to be highly vulnerable to the negative effects of xenobiotics-non natural foreign chemical substances found within an organism. This is the reason much emphases were made on knowing more about GMOs, because environmental agents could interrupt the biological events that are required to make sure normal growth and development are achieved.

Affording Organic Foods is Cheaper

I believe if you are financially fit to buy and eat conventional foods, you can as well afford a variety of organically produced foods. If you doubt me, try to make a sum total of the amount you spend on conventional fruits and vegetables on monthly basis, then switch to organic (vegetables and fruits only) and see your expenses in a month. If you try doing this, you’ll notice that there is no substantial difference.
Cut down on most of the junk foods you take; apply this to all of your other foods, and you will notice positive changes. That aside, the rate at which the system is operating is making organic foods less affordable.
As long as feeding the world is concerned, the money we spend on after-war constructions will go a long way to feed the world but we are told that GMOs do that when they actually don’t.
Agricultural practices that will stand the test of time are what we need to embrace all over the world. GMO farming has not really become sustainable and this has always been demonstrated every now and then. In India Monsanto’s insect-repellent Bt cotton caused problems for the country’s farmers. The cost of those seeds is twice the cost of the conventional ones and they required plenty of water and expensive pesticides and herbicides. This havoc made thousands of Indian farmers to commit suicide.
The Union of Concerned Scientists reminds us that GM crops are not totally safe, as promised in adverts. They derailed in producing promised yields, and farmers are restricted from saving seeds due to the company’s legal rights and as a result, the whole communities can be pressed to the verge of famine.
Each individual on the planet earth can feed himself with just 100 square feet of well utilized land. In 2008, the UN Conference of Trade and development lauded the cultivation of organics, saying that organic cultivation can be more beneficial to food security in Africa than most conventional production systems, and is more likely to stand the test of time on the long run.  You can read this report HERE.

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