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Activism Healthy Living Kids & Family Real Food Toxin Alert!

Stanford Study on Organics: Manipulating Consumers into Buying GMO Products

www.mypicshares.com
This last week news reports have flooded the print, online, and on-air worlds from various outlets about the recent study conducted at Stanford University on the nutritional content of organic versus conventional food.

The study was “an extensive examination of four decades of research” comparing organic and conventional foods which found that on average, fruits and vegetables from organic sources were no more nutritious than their conventional counterparts.

In other words, they weren’t uncovering any new information. It was simply a review of past research.

Yes, these studies have been done before. And, these findings have been more than adequately countered before by various sources.

So before you decide that organic food is just an over-priced product that you shouldn’t bother wasting your money on, let’s examine why results of this study were inconclusive, too narrow, and left out valuable information that you should be aware of.

Conflicting studies

In a 2011 study, a team led by Dr. Kirsten Brandt of the Human Nutrition Research Center of Newcastle University in the UK looked at much of the same literature as researchers in the Stanford study. These findings were published in Critical Reviews in Plant Sciences and discovered something quite opposite: organic crops yielded an increase of approximately 12 to 16 percent more nutrients than conventional.

Mother Earth News featured an article about this in 2009 about The Organic Center’s reasons for why organic foods is superior nutritionally to conventional food. Here are some of the reasons:

“The FSA [Food Standards Agency] review included studies over a 50-year period: January 1958 through February 2008. The TOC team included studies published since 1980. Most studies published before 1980 were found flawed for purposes of comparing the nutrient content of today’s conventional and organic crops.

Most of the older studies used plant varieties no longer in use, and did not measure or report total phenolics or antioxidant capacity (since these nutrients were just being discovered). The older studies used analytical methods that are now considered inferior, compared to modern methods.”

The Rodale Institute has published some very extensive studies and documentation showing just how organic foods are better for our health, and how sustainable farming is not only a viable way to feed the planet, but is much safer and sustainable.

In a scientific paper, professor of agriculture at Washington State University and former chief scientist at The Organic Center, Charles Benbrook, PhD, reviewed the Stanford study and much of the associate literature, found the results misleading:

“The published literature lacks strong evidence that organic foods are significantly more  nutritious than conventional foods.” And: “Consumption of organic foods may reduce exposure to pesticide residues and antibiotic resistant bacteria.”

He also stated that several well-designed previous U.S. studies revealed that organic crops consistently showed higher concentrations of antioxidants and vitamins than conventional. In crops such as strawberries, grapes, apples, tomatoes, milk, grains, and carrots, organic produce has 10 to 30 percent higher levels of various nutrients, including antioxidants, Vitamin C,  and phenolic acids in most studies.

Here are some additional sources talking about why organic food is nutritionally superior:

Tender Grassfed Meat’s Stanley Fishman: When organic tests no better, check the soil, and the bias

Why organic is better (never mind the study), New York Times

Organic food vs. conventional: What the Stanford study missed, Robyn O’Brien, author of The Unhealthy Truth

Professor Adam Carey, BSc, MB, BChir, MA, MRCOG, NTCC:

 Why organics are not only about the nutritional content of food:

  • Organic foods do not have chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, which are used in commercial and industrial farming and are linked to causing health issues such as birth defects, cancer, endocrine disruption and neurological disorders for humans and the ecology. Health effects of pesticides and other chemicals are cumulative in the human body, even if the levels of these chemicals falls below what is considered acceptable by the EPA.
  • Organic foods cannot contain hormones or antibiotics used in conventionally-raised animals and birds, which are also linked to health issues such as disease-resistant bacteria and hormonal and endocrine disruption in human beings and animals. The Stanford Study did note that there was an increased risk of consuming antibiotic-resistant bacteria – 33% higher than from organic pork and chicken.
  • Organic foods cannot be produced or grown with GMOs (genetically modified foods), found to cause many health issues.
  • Organic foods are grown in ways that use traditional farming methods that cultivate and enrich the soil, whereas commercial farming methods with chemicals only further erode and deplete minerals and good bacteria from the soil. Soil is the foundation of life. If the soil is dead, so will be the food.

Funding for the study

Who is funding these studies done by Stanford?  One source claims that that “no outside funding” was used to avoid the “perception of bias”. I read in various other news reports that the researchers made the same claim.  The Stanford School of Medicine site claims this as well:  ”The authors received no external funding for this study.”

But wording is very important. If you visit the Stanford Center for Health Policy web site, you can see that The Stanford Center for Health Policy has the following statement:

“The Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI) relies on support from its friends, as well as from national and international foundations and corporations, for the funding of the Institute’s research, teaching and outreach activities.”

The Center for Health Policy is a subsidiary of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI).

So I ask once again, who’s funding this study? Don’t you agree that it would be very educational to learn the identity of these friends, national and international foundations and corporations funding the research of FSI and its subsidiary, the Stanford Center for Health Policy?

Let’s find out. According to FSI’s 2011 Annual Report (page 38, .pdf), you can see the following sponsors:

  • Agricultural giant Cargill
  • British Petroleum (BP)
  • The Bill & Malinda Gates Foundation (heavily invested in both Cargill and big-agri giant Monsanto)
  • The Ford Foundation
  • Google
  • Goldman Sachs
  • The Smith Richardson Foundation
  • Other corporate-financier, Fortune 500, and special interest organizations and corporations

All of these companies and interests are well-known supporters of Big Agricultural interests, biotechnology, and some are well-known opponents to the Proposition 37, GMO labeling initiative going on in CA which will be voted on this November.

So when Stanford claims “no outside funding” was obtained for studies coming out of this branch of their school, that is an outright lie.

The fact is, most universities do not operate independently and are not without outside donators and interests.  Like most other universities, there was actually outside funding, from a large list of sources.

We all know, even science is not without bias and the results of this study were undoubtedly affected by those who donated.

After learning this, do you still hold Stanford Medical School in high esteem?

There has also been leakage that one of the main authors of this study has been found to have ties to the Tobacco Industry: Dr. Ingram Olkin, one of the same researchers who allowed lies to be told to the public that cigarettes were not harmful to human health.

The GMO factor

Stanford also failed to take into account the negative effects of GMOs on the foods we eat when comparing organic to conventional.  Conventional foods are highly contaminated with GMOs – corn, soy, canola oil, cottonseed oil, sugar, a lot of dairy products which contain rBGH bovine growth hormone, and now some zucchini and squash, and papaya.

Organic are now also contaminated due to the issues of cross-pollination from insect, wind, and other natural means of spreading seed.  And yet, Monsanto claims that co-existence of GMO with non-GMO seed is not only possible, but not a problem for anything or anyone.

At the same time, Monsanto has repeatedly engaged in lawsuits against farmers for patent infringement whose crops were cross-pollinated by Monsanto seed that they had no knowledge of and didn’t want. Monsanto has put farmers out of business and ruined their livelihoods over something that, according to them, wasn’t even supposed to be a problem!

Monsanto also maintains that there is no reason to prove the safety of GMOs, and that they are “substantially equivalent” to their non-GMO counterparts. The company doesn’t believe it has a responsibility to prove its product is safe, and refers to its statement of “substantial equivalence” to say that the product is no different than its non-GMO counterpart.

Sounds a lot like the Stanford study results, doesn’t it? There’s no difference between GMO and non-GMO seed, and there’s no difference between conventional and organic food. They must think the consumer public are all complete idiots!

From Monsanto’s web site:

“Substantial equivalence, more technically, means that the range of concentrations for components of the GM crop falls within the typical range for the non-GM counterpart.”

“There is no need to test the safety of DNA introduced into GM crops. DNA (and resulting RNA) is present in almost all foods–the only exceptions being highly refined materials like oil or sugar from which all cell material has been removed. Thus, DNA is non-toxic and the presence of DNA, in and of itself, presents no hazard.

When a new protein (not normally found in that plant or in other commonly consumed foods) is introduced into a plant, the safety of that protein does need to be addressed. It is standard practice to use animals to test any introduced proteins. Animal testing requires very high doses of the test substance be given. These levels are, by design, many times higher than those which people would actually consume. In GM crops and foods derived from them, introduced proteins are usually present only in minute amounts. Because the levels of protein are so low, it is impossible to test high doses by feeding crops directly to animals. Instead, a purified version of the introduced protein is used in animal studies.”

These statements are ludicrous because even if the “range of concentrations for components of the GMO crop falls within the typical range for the non-GM counterpart” those elements of the GM crop are not the same as what occurs in nature.

Any thinking scientist would disagree with this since GMOs are created with an unnatural process to begin with which extracts foreign DNA and bacteria and inserts it into the seed in a laboratory. If Monsanto is confident their seeds are safe, why don’t they want labels on the products they produce?

GMO seeds are lacking in nutrition and also contain pesticides to eliminate insects on the crop such as corn or soy. This causes the digestive tract of the insect to explode when eaten. If it does this to insects, what is it doing to us?  There are no third-party studies in existence that examine the long term effect of consuming these organisms on human beings.

These statements, studies and other efforts are a way to confuse consumers and get them on the side of conventional, commercial farming and to support an anti-labeling initiative against Prop 37.  Monsanto produces the chemical herbicide Roundup. They also produced DDT and Agent Orange. We were told the last two were safe for many years. The chief funders for the anti-labeling campaign are the same ones who told us these toxic chemicals were safe.  So much for that promise.

By coincidence, the initiative to label GMO foods is coming this fall to the state of CA. Voting yes on Prop 37 would make it mandatory to label GMO foods as it is currently in many European, Asian, and other countries around the world. 

There is great opposition to this initiative. Monsanto and many large corporations are spending millions and millions of dollars to make sure labeling doesn’t happen and that consumers remain in the dark, and don’t understand how their food is produced.

In my local area there is an activist group called GMO-Free Idaho.  Jenny Easley and Leslie Stoddard, founders of the group,  have been very active over the last year doing presentations, organizing potlucks, rallies, and events to raise awareness about the issues of GMOs in our food supply.

This weekend GMO-Free Idaho featured an event to show the film The Future of Food, which highlights the issues both farmers and consumers face as a result of the increasing deregulation of GMOs in our agricultural sector and food supply.  The people involved in the sustainable food community here in my area understand what’s at stake, and we want this initiative to go through.

Voting Yes on Prop 37 means you support labeling on GMO foods which has already been implemented in the U.K. and other European countries, Russia, China, and Japan. We can’t trust big food companies to be truthful about their products. We need labeling to increase consumer awareness.

Videos/interviews:

Future of Food movie trailer, an eye-opening look at what’s really happening with GMO foods, the crooked politics and bad science behind it, and how you can make a difference

Health dangers of genetically modified foodsJeffery Smith, Institute of Responsible Technology

Watch this video of a 12-year old girl pleading with consumers to think twice about GMOs in our food and environment

GMO-Free Idaho – Fighting for our right to know what’s in our food! Interview on Chew on This, Radio Boise

Watch my interview with Kevin Brown on the Liberation Wellness site about the dangers of GMOs and the labeling initiative in CA that will be voted on this November. 

More information about GMOs:

4 ways to avoid GMOs in the foods you buy

Busting Myths about GMOs

Institute for Responsible Technology

Photo credit: Wakeup World

 

 

Activism Green Living Healthy Living Kids & Family Real Food

Is Cheap Food Really Cheap? The Hidden Costs of Industrial Food

www.mypicshares.com

Do you pay attention to where your food comes from? Do you go to the grocery store and purchase whatever is on the shelf, or do you think about what’s in the food you eat and how it is produced?

Do you spend any time considering the preventative side of taking care of your body through the foods you eat?  Do you spend a lot of time and money eating out at restaurants and fast food establishments, or do you devote more effort to preparing home-cooked meals with good ingredients at home?

Where your food comes from is as important as making something at home from scratch. The ingredients and how they are produced say a lot about just how healthy that food really is.

When you go to the grocery store or out to eat at a restaurant, consider the following about the majority of food sold and served there:

  • Most grocery store and restaurant meat comes from factory farm environments where the animals are confined in the most abhorrent conditions available. They are shoved together in filthy, unnatural spaces surrounded by waste lagoons, are administered all types of chemicals including hormones, steroids, and antibiotics, and are fed the cheapest and most unhealthy feeds available such as genetically-modified corn, grain, and soy, and renderings of bio-waste products. The waste generated by factory farm facilities contaminates our air, soil, and ground water, which places nearby residents at risk for exposure to pathogenic bacteria like E.coli and others.
  • Factory farms are often large in scale, are highly specialized, and function like a factory (hence the term “factory farm”). These facilities use massive amounts of fossil fuel, pesticides, herbicides, and other chemicals, and synthetic fertilizers derived from oil. Small-scale, organic farming operations have been shown to use 60 percent less fossil fuel per unit of food than conventional industrial farms (Norberg-Hodge, Helena , Todd Merrifield, and Steven Gorelick. Bringing The Food Economy Home: Local Alternatives to Global Agribusiness, 2002.)
  • Conventional produce is grown with pesticides and herbicides, from genetically-modified and engineered seeds, and with modern farming methods which are as harsh as can be to the landscape and damage and strip the soil of its nutrients – substances which are vital to the nutritional density and flavor of the foods you are eating. The over-use of chemicals like insecticides and pesticides has caused rapidly-developing resistance in pests which has rendered these chemicals increasingly ineffective. The production of herbicide tolerant (HT) biotech crops, particularly Monsanto’s RR crops, has resulted in the development of superweed strains that are nearly impervious to even conventional methods. Biotech info discusses how cross-pollination techniques, a method employed by GMO companies like Monsanto, leads to further and further resistance in these superweed strains.
  • Conventional produce contains higher amounts of water and less nutrition. From Sustainable Table: “A comparison of the nutritional content between organic and factory farmed, conventional vegetables showed that organic produce has higher nutritional value. Organic lettus had 29 percent more magnesium, organic spinach had 52 percent more Vitamin C, organic carrots had 69 percent more magnesium, and organic cabbage had 43 percent more Vitamin C, 41 percent more iron and 40 percent more magnesium.”
  • Processed foods in the store (representing at least 80 percent of what’s available) are full of chemically-laden “food-like substances” which contain carcinogenic ingredients, hydrogenated and highly processed oils, MSG and other excitotoxins, are synthetically fortified and contain little to no nutritional value. You are getting less nutrition and more toxins.
  • Being a vegetarian or vegan does not mean you are supporting sustainable farming or food. Many vegetarian and vegan foods – vegetables, fruits, grains (including corn), soy, and legumes come from conventional sources and their growth, production, and sale damages the environment. The majority of soy and much of the grain produced in the world comes from genetically-modified sources thanks to corporate bio-terrorists like Monsanto.
  • These crops are responsible for damaging farmlands and are destructive to topsoil and biodiversity because of the methods employed in their farming. These farming efforts make use of monocropping – planting the same stains year-after-year, which destroys beneficial organisms and bacteria essential to health. They also employ the use of toxic chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides. Monsanto has nearly 250 million GMO acres worldwide. Sustainable farming doesn’t need harmful chemicals to control pests and weeds, but instead uses nature to manage its land and crops.
  • According to Sustainable Table, “Factory farms also threaten our health by incubating infectious diseases that can spread to the human population. Sometimes diseases are transferred directly from animals to humans. In cases of direct transmission, a worker who comes in contact with a diseased animal or its manure can contract the disease and pass it on to their family and community.”
  • Industrial food has the appearance of a “cheaper” price tag on the shelf, but the hidden costs are almost endless. The food you buy is mostly subsidized by the government to “keep prices down”. But who do you think pays for those subsidies? Every tax payer in this country. When you eat industrial food, your health will suffer. You’ll spend more time in the doctor’s office and hospital, paying for drugs, surgery, and other procedures to “cure” your ailments. The sick joke is that these will never cure your health problems, only keep you coming back time and time again for more appointments and medications.

Supporting industrial farming keeps the big players going – and the damage to health and environment, and doesn’t put your dollars toward smaller, family-owned farms whose goal is to bring you healthy food that preserves our health and the environment.

Benefits of small-scale, sustainable farming and food

When you buy sustainable food from small-scale producers, you are supporting local communities and healthy farming practices. The amount of fossil fuels used to transport these products is also greatly reduced, and the overall CO2 emissions into the atmosphere lowered as well.

Although conventional medicine tells us to stay away from saturated fats and red meat, grass-fed beef, eggs, and dairy do not contain artery-clogging fats commonly found in the conventional variety; in fact, unlike their factory counterparts, they are loaded with CLA (conjugated linoleic acid, an important antioxidant), Omega 3s, minerals, Vitamins A, D, E, and K2. 

The process of grazing a herd of cattle on open land and moving them around from pasture to pasture on a day-to-day basis allows regeneration of the land as well as replenishment of nutrients in the soil and grasses. This type of farming actually encourages the health of top soil – one of the most critical areas of the environment which has a profound effect on health. When farmers work with the land to encourage natural biodiversity and development of microrganisms, the result is a win-win situation for all involved, the land, humans, and animals. Organic Grass Fed Beef Info thoroughly explains the vast differences between how  grass-fed animals and grain-fed animals are raised.

Scientific research shows that sustainable, pasture-raised, and organic foods provide significant health benefits for consumers. In addition to being raised without synthetic hormones, antibiotics, pesticides and chemical fertilizers, sustainable meat is more nutritious than meat produced by industrial agriculture for the reasons discussed above.

A recent report by the French Agency for Food Safety (AFSSA) revealed that organic foods are higher in both mineral and antioxidant content than their conventional counterparts. Another study from The Journal of Applied Nutrition found that the overall mineral content of organic foods sampled was higher than conventional – apples, potatoes, pears, wheat, and sweet corn. Mercury levels in the organic foods were found to be 27 percent lower than conventional.

From a joint study conducted by CDC scientists, the University of Washington, and Emory University, results revealed that pesticide levels in test subjects dropped to undetectable levels upon switching to an organic diet. When the subjects switched back to a non-organic diet, pesticide residues almost immediately became detectable. (Schafer S., Kristin, et al. “Chemical Trespass: Pesticides in Our Bodies and Corporate Accountability.” Pesticide Action Network of North America, May 2004)

Many health problems have been attributed to the consumption of these so-called foods, and yet the distinction is seldom made. Toxins and chemicals in our food supply are responsible for the onslaught of earlier degenerative diseases than in the historical past. We consume massive amounts of this food each and every day in our homes, in schools, hospitals, offices, stores, and restaurants. Body Ecology provides a good description of toxins in the things we eat and drink and those both in and outside of our bodies.

What are the hidden costs of cheap food?

Here is a comparative analysis of several processed foods versus a real, whole food free from chemicals and other toxins typically found in industrial food from Windy Ridge Poultry, in Alfred, NY:

www.mypicshares.com

Switching to natural, organic, and grass-fed foods seems expensive on the surface, but when you consider the medical problems you will save yourself in the long run, not to mention the enormous costs incurred on the health care, environmental, and tax systems we pay for directly out of our own pockets, doesn’t it seem worth it to spend more now and save later?

Industrial food may have a cheaper price tag at the store, but the long-term repercussions of eating this way for an extended period of time will definitely show a higher price tag in the future, in more ways than one: you’ll pay with your pocketbook and your quality of life.

To learn more about factory farms, visit The Food & Water Watch web site. And here’s the factory farm list for every facility in the country by state.

Visit the ASPCA’s 10 ways you can help fight factory farms.

Join up with the Millions Against Monsanto Campaign to help preserve the environment and health, and stop this multinational bio-terrorist corporation.

Want to read more?

Proof that real food doesn’t have to cost a bundle, is nourishing, and satisfies!

Food budgets – using creativity and prioritizing for healthy eating

Waste not, want not: tips for saving money in the kitchen

Can you afford not to eat healthy?