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My Potato Project: The Importance Of Organic

Hits: 7130 | Rating: (2.2) | Category: Science | Added by: bliznik
Page: 1 2 3 Next >   Jump to: Bottom    Last Post
Male, 30-39, Western US
 2302 Posts
Monday, January 23, 2012 11:16:28 AM
Of course eating a sprouted potato is not good so...
Besides the dose makes the poison.
However organic farming can help restore economic stability which is of much greater concern than living healthier and longer. I don't want to maximize my life at the salt mine.

Male, 40-49, Eastern US
 6018 Posts
Monday, January 23, 2012 5:08:07 AM
@CJ: CJ it is, then. Call me Squrlz.

~Squrlz takes a little squirrel bow~

Male, 40-49, Midwest US
 17367 Posts
Monday, January 23, 2012 4:25:36 AM
Squrlz4Sale: Sure 'CJ' is fine, it's a lot better than what others have called me here. hehehe.

Male, 40-49, Eastern US
 6018 Posts
Monday, January 23, 2012 4:22:45 AM
@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.

Male, 40-49, Eastern US
 6018 Posts
Monday, January 23, 2012 4:09:16 AM
@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.

Male, 40-49, Eastern US
 6018 Posts
Monday, January 23, 2012 3:54:56 AM
@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.

Male, 40-49, Eastern US
 6018 Posts
Monday, January 23, 2012 3:38:26 AM
@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."

Male, 40-49, Eastern US
 6018 Posts
Monday, January 23, 2012 3:20:20 AM
@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.

Male, 40-49, Eastern US
 621 Posts
Sunday, January 22, 2012 11:15:26 PM
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.

Male, 18-29, Southern US
 71 Posts
Sunday, January 22, 2012 11:04:03 PM
@shillier you didn't have to read the comment you prat.

Male, 18-29, Canada
 262 Posts
Sunday, January 22, 2012 10:48:16 PM
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

Male, 40-49, Midwest US
 17367 Posts
Sunday, January 22, 2012 9:52:14 PM
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.

Male, 40-49, Eastern US
 6018 Posts
Sunday, January 22, 2012 1:42:09 PM
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.

Male, 40-49, Eastern US
 6018 Posts
Sunday, January 22, 2012 1:26:54 PM
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.

Male, 40-49, Eastern US
 6018 Posts
Sunday, January 22, 2012 1:16:27 PM
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.

Male, 30-39, Australia
 25198 Posts
Sunday, January 22, 2012 12:57:53 PM
right o

Female, 18-29, Canada
 41 Posts
Sunday, January 22, 2012 12:22:31 PM
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.

Male, 30-39, Canada
 794 Posts
Sunday, January 22, 2012 6:13:16 AM
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:

Male, 40-49, Eastern US
 6018 Posts
Saturday, January 21, 2012 11:40:23 PM
@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.

Male, 40-49, Midwest US
 17367 Posts
Saturday, January 21, 2012 11:11:49 PM
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.

Male, 50-59, Europe
 1111 Posts
Saturday, January 21, 2012 10:54:08 PM
Whoo hoo! Monsanto strikes again! Swines.

Male, 40-49, Eastern US
 6018 Posts
Saturday, January 21, 2012 10:49:28 PM
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.

Male, 40-49, Eastern US
 621 Posts
Saturday, January 21, 2012 10:28:13 PM
@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.

Male, 40-49, Eastern US
 6018 Posts
Saturday, January 21, 2012 9:39:54 PM
@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.

Male, 40-49, Midwest US
 17367 Posts
Saturday, January 21, 2012 9:10:59 PM
asiina: Sorry, I didn't see your citation before I posted, we likely found it from the same source.

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