My Potato Project: The Importance Of Organic

Submitted by: bliznik 5 years ago in Science

Child shows how non-organic produce is irrevocably changed by chemicals.
There are 56 comments:
Male 6,227
@CJ: CJ it is, then. Call me Squrlz.

~Squrlz takes a little squirrel bow~
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Male 17,512
Squrlz4Sale: Sure `CJ` is fine, it`s a lot better than what others have called me here. hehehe.
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Male 6,227
@CJ (cont`d):

Earlier I made reference to the meaning and derivation of "teratogen." It`s a relatively new word, coined at about the time of the thalidomide tragedy. The developmental toxicologist I used to know once told me this story:

She was at a press conference, attended by parents and children born with birth defects. When she used the word *teratogenic*, a reporter asked for an explanation. She went into wonk mode and quickly responded, "It`s from the Greek, and means `monster-creating`...." It was out of her mouth in an instant and at that point she wanted to crawl under a rock.
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Male 6,227
@CrakrJak (may I call you CJ?):

Thank for your observation on working with those born with birth defects. I agree: I sometimes see what grace some people are exhibiting, in the face of terrible burdens, and it makes whatever problems I have seem trivial by comparison. It`s a good reality-check.

I had a lot of misgivings about posting that photo of the thalidomide baby and actually deleted the entire post at one point. I`d already been accused of fear-mongering on this topic, and that photo is just so horrible. But in the end, I decided that it`s important to remind people about the capacity for harm some of these synthetic chemicals have already demonstrated. Some of the readers of IAB are so young, they may never have even heard of the thalidomide tragedy.
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Male 6,227
@Schillier: If you`ve slogged through all the discussion on this, you at least deserve to know where I stand on synthetic pesticides and organic produce.

(1) I think synthetic pesticides fall into the category of "often-necessary evils" and should be closely monitored by a well-funded FDA. (That last point is key: Many corporations and many Republicans would like to gut the FDA to a greater extent than it already has been. If readers have gotten nothing else from this discussion, I hope it`s a renewed respect for how important the work of FDA toxicologists is.)

(2) I think there should be more disclosure to the consumer at to what pesticides and herbicides are used on the produce we`re eating.

(3) I think the burgeoning organic/pesticide-free farming movement is a great thing and I am happy to have a choice in the matter.

Hope that helps.
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Male 6,227
@HiEv (cont`d):

(2) In terms of the safety of the pesticide residues on conventionally-farmed produce, I agree that in most cases, for most people, it`s not a problem.

But that`s not the same as saying there`s no risk. See my earlier post regarding the mulitplicative effect, if you haven`t read that already. Also, I won`t chew up 400 chars here reprinting a list of the pesticides that have been withdrawn from the market over the past 40 years due to health concerns, but the list is long.

I keep coming back to the attitude of the developmental toxicologist I once knew and her words: "Anytime you can reduce your exposure to synthetic chemicals, especially ones designed to stunt or kill living cells, it`s probably a good idea."
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Male 6,227
@HiEv: Your "Have a potato" line at the end of your post made me LOL--thanks for that.

(1) The SciAm piece correctly points out that many (not all) organically-grown foods are grown on farms that use pesticides. But the distinction (acknowledged in passing by the author, and which I`m not sure you picked up on) is that the pesticides that organically-grown produce are exposed to are not the synthetic ones. Granted, this is far from ideal. But for my money, I like the option to buy produce that has not been exposed to an entire class of pesticides, many of them relatively new on the market (or that hasn`t been exposed to pesticides at all--more typical of organic markets than your local supermarket).

Click here for an unbiased piece written on the synthetic/organic pesticide distinction.
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Male 621
Squrlz4Sale: "The $64,000 question is, How harmful are they in the amounts that the average consumer ingests?"

The SciAm article and the American Cancer Society links I posted have the answer: no, they are not significantly harmful in the amounts you will normally find.

This isn`t and shouldn`t be something everyone has to evaluate for themselves either, because most people aren`t equipped to do that. This is why we have an FDA and other similar bodies to check our food and drinks.

And again, "organic" doesn`t mean "pesticide free", since you CAN use pesticides on foods labeled "organic".

In the end, it`s probably actually more dangerous to *drive* to the grocery store than it is to eat any of the conventionally grown foods in it.

So don`t worry. Have a potato. :-)
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Male 73
@shillier you didn`t have to read the comment you prat.
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Male 260
hey squrlz if i wanted to read a book about produce chemicals (whether your for or against chemicals i will never know) i would have gone to www.books-about-poo-on-potatoes.org. but i did not. i am now more bored than ever. thank you
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Male 17,512
Squrlz4Sale: I know all to well about Thalidomide and it`s harmful effects, but we have much much more stringent testing requirements now, partly due to what that drug did to babies and their mothers.

I used to volunteer, as part of our church group, at a center that took care of children that had been born with birth defects, at first it was hard to see, but those people were some of the happiest, easy going, loving, forgiving people I`ve ever met. And it taught me to never pity myself, because I could have it much much worse in life.
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Male 6,227
Last thought on this, until or if someone cares to resume the thread:

One of the problems with toxins is what`s known as the "multiplicative effect." That`s the phenomenon whereby one known toxic substance becomes several times more powerful when combined with another. A good example of this is asbestos exposure and cigarette smoke. Asbestos is a known carcinogen, yet epidemiologists were puzzled for awhile as to why some people with relatively minimal exposure were getting asbestos-related diseases while others weren`t. It turned out that the carcinogens in tobacco smoke were making the asbestos particles that smokers were inhaling five or six times more likely to cause disease.

While chlorpropham and other synthetic herbicide and pesticide residue may be only mildly toxic ingested individually, how safe they are when combined with other pesticides over the long term is a big question that is only beginning to be researched.
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Male 6,227
Another point on this topic: How many of you, before watching this video, even knew that Bud Nip, aka chlorpropham, existed? I certainly didn`t.

And it explains a lot. A few weeks ago, I bought a plastic bag of russet potatoes at the Giant supermarket. I eat about one potato a day, microwaved. Anyway, about a week into that bag, I noticed the potatoes were all getting soft and shriveled. I couldn`t understand it because they hadn`t started showing eyes. Now I know: Giant, or their distributor, were selling potatoes that were older than they should have been. Had they not been sprayed with chlorpropham, this would have been obvious. Instead, they were able to sell them for $4.99, or whatever I paid. (Hmmm... seriously thinking of taking the remaining potatoes back now.)

My point here is that health issues aside, the unadvertised use of these synthetic chemicals isn`t always for the consumer`s benefit, as some are suggesting.
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Male 6,227
Here`s my back story on this: I used to know a developmental toxicologist from a former job. She`s the lead author on one of the main texts in the field, still published today by Raven Press. Anyway, she was a level-headed individual and probably has forgotten more on this subject in a single day than all of our knowledge combined.

Her attitude, when we`d talk about the subject (my sister was pregnant with a second child at the time) was always, "Anytime you can reduce your exposure to synthetic chemicals, especially ones designed to stunt or kill living cells, it`s probably a good idea."

I`m glad that consumers are increasingly having a choice in whether they want organic produce or not. Those of you who think the organic food movement is misguided or worse, fine: No one, anywhere, is forcing you to buy organic.
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Male 25,417
right o
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Female 41
Don`t know why I even care to point it out but
QUOTE"Not unlike a vegetarian claiming, "I feel sick, that vegetable soup must`ve had beef broth in it". /QUOTE
Ever seen a vegetarian eat meat for the first time? They puke their guts outs. Not for petty moral reason but because the body is not used to processing meat.
And next:
QUOTE" most people have the common sense to rinse their vegetables before they prepare them" /QUOTE
Let me put this as simply as possible... Vegetables absorb water and nutrients through their roots in the soil. The chemicals are spayed on the soil. Therefore, the chemicals can`t be washed off. They are part of the vegetable. They had been absorbing into that vegetable from day 1.
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Male 792
That`s nice...but, on my budget, I`d rather spend $0.99/pound on non-organic potatoes than $4.99/pound on organic ones.

And for what it`s worth...studies on chlorpropham were flawed:
[url]http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/cps-spc/pubs/pest/_decisions/rvd2008-01/index-eng.php
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Male 6,227
@CrakrJak: Let me begin by saying that I think we agree on 60%-70% of this topic. I agree that the benefits of some herbicides and pesticides outweigh the risks and that humanity would be poorer and hungrier without them.

That said, I think you and others are dramatically underestimating the risks associated with synthesized chemicals--particularly synthetic chemicals designed to stunt or kill plants and animals and which are being ingested by humans.

Synthesized, nonorganic chemicals have had a spotty record when it comes to the human organism. In 1957, a synthetic drug was introduced, with studies from the manufacturer "proving" it was a safe drug for the treatment of morning sickness. Then the babies started being born.



That synthetic chemical was, of course, thalidomide.
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Male 17,512
Squrlz4Sale: Most things can be `toxic` if ingested in large enough quantities. The quantity involved for this chemical to be toxic is huge. Even eating a hundred of those treated potatoes, in one day, wouldn`t be toxic. Plus, most people have the common sense to rinse their vegetables before they prepare them, at least I do.

Chlorpropham, just prevents budding, that reduces waste and lowers food costs to the consumer. Having safe effective preservatives is essential to help combat waste and world wide hunger.

The `Organic` movement loves to stir up fears over preservatives and pesticides, but in most cases they cite `junk science` and Post Hoc fallacies.

Not unlike a vegetarian claiming, "I feel sick, that vegetable soup must`ve had beef broth in it".

Similar claims have been made against MSG, but double blind studies have found that MSG has no ill effects. Btw, MSG comes from sea kelp.
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Male 1,397
Whoo hoo! Monsanto strikes again! Swines.
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Male 6,227
Hi, HiEve. This is such a complex subject its daunting to tackle in 1000 char snippets, but I`ll try.

1. I read the Scientific American piece and wasn`t all that impressed by it, primarily because it spends so much time discrediting the notions that organic produce is tastier or more nutritious. That`s a bit of a straw man argument, in my opinion. When I choose to buy organic produce over non-organic, it`s not because I`m thinking it will taste better or have more vitamin C in it. It`s because I`m wary of synthetic herbicide and pesticide residue on my food.

2. There is abundant evidence that synthetic herbicides and pesticides are toxic, even deadly, in large amounts. The $64,000 question is, How harmful are they in the amounts that the average consumer ingests?

3. That big question is hard to answer, and everyone has to evaluate that risk for himself. I, for one, am glad that consumers have a choice.
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Male 621
@Squrlz4Sale: Er... So? I`m not clear on your point.

Should we assume guilty until proven innocent, despite the absence of evidence for guilt? If not, what constitutes sufficient evidence of relative safety?

Furthermore, it should be pointed out that organically grown food can and does use pesticides. So if you`re against pesticides, going organic won`t help you avoid that (see my truncated SciAm link below).

The evidence shows that conventionally grown foods are, on average, just as safe and tasty as organic foods, but cheaper and take less resources to produce. I have yet to see any good evidence to the contrary, just unscientific scaremongering like this video. If you have some, please post it.
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Male 6,227
@CrakrJak: Since Asiina seems to have left the building, I`ll take up this discussion with you, if you`re game. I ask only that my usual guidelines apply: All discussion should be productive and civil.

From what I`ve been reading tonight, I agree that chlorpropham (that`s the common name for the chemical, not a brand name, thus no initial cap) is probably safe when used according to directions.

That said, the classification of the WHO, "Unlikely to be hazardous," is guarded for a very good reason: the number of herbicides and pesticides once thought to be safe that have been banned or voluntarily taken off the market due to evidence that they are carcinogenic or teratogenic (look up that word and its derivation if you`re unfamiliar with it: it`s pretty horrible) is long.
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Male 17,512
asiina: Sorry, I didn`t see your citation before I posted, we likely found it from the same source.
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Male 17,512
Chlorpropham is really harmless, individual tubers range from 1.8 to 7.6 mg/kg 10 days post application and diminishes to 0.7 to 4.0 mg/kg 28 days post application, it continues to dissipate from there.

In order for Chlorpropham to be toxic you have to consume 1,200 mg per kilogram per day. (according to Cornell research). Beyond that, Peeling removed 91-98% of the total residue; washing reduced residues by 33-47%. The WHO (World Health Organization) has classified it as "Unlikely to be Hazardous".
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Female 1,894
wow the rating of this video shows how IGNORANT people are
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Male 6,227
@asiina: Also, while we`re at it: Please point out to me the "lies" you say I`ve been posting. I`m not aware of any.
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Male 621
Which would I rather eat? The large plump one with no leaves growing out of it, not the small one or the skinny pale one.

I don`t choose potatoes to eat because they can grow roots, I choose them because they`ll cook well, aren`t mostly skin, and taste good. Blinded taste tests show that organic food actually tastes no better than conventionally grown food.

For the record, the American Cancer Society says, among other things, "At present there is no evidence that residues of pesticides and herbicides at the low doses found in foods increase the risk of cancer". (source)

Oh, and little girl? Cancer diagnosis rates are actually either flat or declining, despite science getting better at finding cancer.

For more:
Scientific American - "Myth
Male 6,227
@asiina: You want me to refute your reasoning point-by-point? Easy.

Mistake #1: Your math sucks. Lab rats, on average, weigh less than half a kg. Correcting for this one mistake of yours alone reduces the number of potatoes that would need to be consumed by a rat to hit the minimum LD to 150.

Mistake #2: You misrepresent the study you cited. The herbicide residue when measured was not "newly sprayed" as you state, but measured after 10 days had elapsed.

Mistake #3: You confuse the clarity of chemical equations with judgments on toxicity. Of course chemical equations are not "a matter of opinion." But the determination of which herbicides are safe and which aren`t isn`t a simple matter. Triazine, altrazine, and paraqua are herbicides once generally considered to be safe. Now there is evidence linking them to Parkinson`s disease, cancer, and birth defects.

Shall I continue? I`m out of 1000 chars, but I`m just getting warmed up.
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Female 167
Ah nice response that does not refute anything I said. Yes it`s a free country, so I`m free to point out your lies and fear-mongering. Chemical reactions are not a matter of opinion, it`s science and math.

If you want to avoid food with preservatives you`re welcome to, but don`t do it because of faulty information. And don`t act like people who don`t are poisoning themselves.
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Male 44
Poor kid is already a brainwashed idget.
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Male 6,227
@asiina: You found research downplaying the risks of the herbicide, while the research I found does not. Congratulations. Scientists and their published studies often differ.

If you want to eat your food sprayed with chlorpropham--or Agent Orange, for that matter--go for it. It`s a free country.

But I see no reason for you to regard those who would prefer to avoid produce sprayed with herbicides and pesticides as "hippies," "fear mongering," or "uneducated." You`re out of line there.
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Male 583
she should be an actress
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Female 167

Another source showing no effects on humans, even people who handle this chemical all day: (had to remove since it won`t let me post the nih website cause the URL is too long).

So nice try with your fear mongering. And for the record, since you used "a common aspirin" in your example, the LD50 in rats for aspirin is only 200mg/kg. You can`t compare human and rat dosages.
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Male 1,441
"Which potato would you rather eat?"
None of them. I hate sweet potatoes.
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Female 167
@Squrlz4Sale

"The concentrations in individual tubers ranged from 1.8 to 7.6 mg/kg 10 days postapplication (mean 3.8 mg/kg, RSD 39%), from 0.7 to 4.0 mg/kg 28 days postapplication (mean 2.9 mg/kg, RSD 28%), and from 0.8 to 3.8 mg/kg 65 days postapplication (mean 2.2 mg/kg, RSD 48%)."

"Peeling removed 91−98% of the total residue; washing reduced residues by 33−47%."

Citation

In other words, a rat would have to eat 315 and a rabbit would have to eat 1315 newly sprayed, unwashed, unpeeled potatoes in one sitting to reach that dosage.

Another source showing no effects on humans, even people who handle this chemical all day:
Male 11
@Squrlz4Sale you do know that that Table Salt is LD50 at 3000mg/Kg

and I bet you eat alot more of that cemical then you do of "Bud nip"
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Male 133
The rate of growth on the potato (sweet, 1 each orange in color) that is claimed to have come from an organic store will not occur in nature. 1 Week for a foot or more of vine? 12/7 = 1.7 inches per day.
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Male 6,227
@asiina:

"Educate yourself before you spout off more hippie nonsense."

The LD50 for chlorpropham when administered to rats and rabbits ranges from 1200 to 5000 mg/kg. This means that if you feed an amount of this chemical about the size of one common aspirin to a lab rat, chances are even that the rat will be dead in 48 hours. Citation here.

With all due respect, maybe you`re the one who needs to get educated on this topic.
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Male 248
"Which potato would you rather eat?"

I`ll take the one that doesn`t have poo growing on it, please.
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Male 67
Sweet potatoes aren`t even potatoes.
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Male 244
@mcmals... the reason here everyone is up in arms is because they only need doritos and mountain to sustain their life in the basement. This is just white noise to them.
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Female 167
" And it`s no more hippie-ish than it is being health conscious, the less crap we put in our bodies the better....but if you want to eat chemicals and get all sorts of health problems, on your head be it"

[citation needed]

Our body is made of chemicals, the environment is made of chemicals, that potato is made of chemicals. You`ll want to put some "crap" into your body or you`re starve to death. Just because they spray something on the potato that has a SCARY CHEMICAL NAME! doesn`t mean anything. Educate yourself before you spout off more hippie nonsense.
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Male 244
@mcmals... the reason here everyone is up in arms is because they only need doritos and mountain to sustain their life in the basement. This is just white noise to them.
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Male 6,227
Go, little girl! I was just educated by an 8-year-old. Never knew about "Bud Nip," now I do.
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Male 3,625
I`ll admit, organic can taste a million times better, but that won`t feed the over populated world, now would it?
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Female 146
why is everyone talking about hippies??? It`s common knowledge that potatoes sprout roots....if you tried to do this and got no roots wouldn`t you be interested in finding out why? I would. And it`s no more hippie-ish than it is being health conscious, the less crap we put in our bodies the better....but if you want to eat chemicals and get all sorts of health problems, on your head be it
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Male 168
Which potato would I rather eat?
The one that I can store for a few weeks without it starting to grow a whole damn plant!
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Male 934
So some hippy grandmother has started brainwashing her grandchild with organic propaganda? Yay...
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Male 612
growing organic fruit and vegetables takes up more land and produces less edible produce. so it MAY be better for humans (though is anything proven?), how is that better for the environment?
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Male 707
cute and informative:) but i wonder if her hippy parents forced her to do this :O
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Male 2,440
Are you frigin` kidding me, IAB?
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Male 1,471
I`m sorry little girl, but it seems you haven`t studied the subject quite thoroughyl enough.. it`s pretty non-toxic.. And it`s carcinogenic properties haven`t been proven.. Doesn`t affect embryo development.. Cronic exposure to large amounts of it may cause adverse effects, but you wouldn`t encounter anything like those amounts from eating potatoes..

It also makes the potatoes last much longer, and keeps them tasting good..

Conclusion: Science is awesome..
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Female 4,359
smart kid. we should pay attention to her.
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Female 2,674
Awkward kid is adorably awkward. "It`s no wonder so many people are getting cancer... Which potato would you rather eat?" *gigantic grin*
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Male 1,692
Link: My Potato Project: The Importance Of Organic [Rate Link] - Child shows how non-organic produce is irrevocably changed by chemicals.
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