The Truth About Organic Food and Pesticides
Are we eating a chemical soup, even when buying organic? If you thought buying organic was a better-recent research is showing you are still being exposed to pesticides and herbicides that are left behind in the soil, rainwater, and even in the air.
While the regulations for the USDA's National Organic Program (NOP) have come a long way in preventing the use of synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, and genetic engineering of foods labeled "USDA Organic" - there is still some room for improvement.
Just like you wouldn't want sewage sludge used to grow the organic wheat products that you buy, you wouldn't want Monsanto's Round-Up chemical - glyphosate- or glyphosate residues, to be detected in your organic wheat products, either.
Unfortunately, that might be happening-despite efforts to avoid certain pesticides in organic food.
Glyphosate has been under the gun for many researchers, with reports of kidney failure and still-births reported in farm workers exposed to toxic amounts of this chemical herbicide. And in smaller amounts-medical conditions like Celiac Disease - among other gastrointestinal disorders - as well as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression, autism, infertility, cancer, and Alzheimer's disease have been associated with the inhibition of cytochrome P450 enzymes, which occurs as a result of glyphosate exposure in animal and human models.
One company, Tropical Traditions, reports they decided to test their organic products for glyphosate residues. They found that all of the organic wheat products tested from 3 different growing regions (Montana, North Dakota, and Canada) were contaminated with glyphosate. And the amount of glyphosate present met levels of traditionally-grown, non-organic, non-GMO wheat crops-making organic wheat and traditionally grown wheat equals when it comes to glyphosate contamination.
So, if glyphosate is not allowed to be used in organic food production, why is this herbicide still showing up in the organic food supply?
The United States Geological Survey measured levels of glyphosate and glyphosate residues in air and rain samples in the Mississippi Delta agricultural area in 2007. Over 75% of air and rain samples contained the herbicide with 2 million kg (that's a whopping 4.4 million pounds) of glyphosate applied just in the state of Mississippi that same year.
For those of you who need a bit more of the details surrounding organic food pesticide use, it just so happens that within the allowed substances, methods, and ingredients in organic production and handling section of the eCFR, (or the electronic form of the Code of Federal Regulations), there are very few approved ingredients that are allowed to be used in the production of organic crops, and they must be all-natural, without any artificial chemicals or pesticides used.
The federal regulations surrounding the topic of organic farming are very, very strict, and quite specific. But they cannot account for the amount of glyphosate present in the environment. Which is why glyphosate is still showing up in organic foods.
To account for this, the USDA's NOP has not included glyphosate or its residues on its list of prohibited pesticide in organic food. In fact, when you inspect this list, there are quite a few common pesticides missing and glyphosate is not on this list of prohibited pesticides for NOP residue testing, which means that the USDA's organic seal can still be placed on foods that contain glyphosate and glyphosate residues.
In 2007, glyphosate was the most used herbicide in the world, as well as in the United States. So, if you're like us, we found it quite surprising that this particular chemical pesticide residue wouldn't be on this NOP's list of prohibited pesticides in organic foods.
Even more surprising is that glyphosate has not made it to this list despite multiple scientific reports of glyphosate causing damage to human embryonic and placental cells and toxic levels have been found in around 30% of mothers' breastmilk in the United States.
Unfortunately, you can't wash it off, because according to the National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC):
"Glyphosate is absorbed across the leaves and stems of plants and is translocated throughout the plant. It concentrates in the meristem tissue." - NPIC
Now you know the truth about organic food and pesticides.