What is the chemical difference to our bodies in choosing organic food over foods treated with pesticides?
Organic crops are crops grown without the use of any synthetic pesticides,petroleum-based fertilisers and sewage sludge-based fertilisers.Conventional agricultural products, however, are about maximising productivity and often involve the use pesticides amongst a host of other chemicals.This use of pesticides is a cause of concern, especially given their lengthy residence time in the environment and also seemingly inevitable subsequent contamination of our products by trace pesticide residues.
In an attempt to improve food security pesticides have become an acceptable tool in the production of food.Pesticides is a broad term, covering a range of products that are used to control pests,examples include insects killers,weed killers,plant growth regulators, rodenticides, animal repellents.Over the years farmers have altered food production processes in order to meet expectations of consumers,supermarkets and governments. This has resulted in the increase in the use of numerous pesticides at various stages of food production.
Trace contaminations haveseveral confirmed hazards on the reproductive, nervous, endocrine, immune and digestive systems.Several signs and symptoms have been attributed to the prolonged consumption of pesticides for example nerve damage,skin and eye irritation and damage,dizziness,nausea and fatigue. Some hazards are often chronic,several cancers have also been attributed to pesticides for exampleAlzheimer's disease,Parkinson's disease, leukaemia, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma,brain,breast,ovarian,prostate,testicular and liver cancers.Different groups of people have different reactions to the different pesticides but research has shown that pregnant women and foetuses are more prone to the effect of pesticides because of their relatively fragile body systems.Children are at a greater risk of exposure because of their lower body mass as compared to the food that they consume.Mothers who have been exposed to organophosphates (OPs) during pregnancy had shorter pregnancies, gave birth to children with decreased neonatal reflexes, lower IQ and poor cognitive functioning and hyperactivity. Glyphosate and its formulations have also been shown to induce DNA and chromosomal damage in mammals. Pesticide residues also have more complicated effects like Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children.Some pesticides like the infamous DDT have been known to bioaccumulate in the fat of animals and as such humans as well. Pesticides are sometimes below detectable levels when used but result in cumulative exposure with time. It suffices to note that at even after at least 20 years after the ban of DDT the pesticide still persists in the environment, along with its effects.Pesticides in food have also been blamed for negatively interfering with the different vitamins,minerals and organic compounds that are essential for the positive impact of fruits and vegetables.Some pesticides have also been shown to block or mimic the action of hormones even at low doses, atrazine can increase oestrogen production by turning on the aromatase enzyme.Some are also suspected to have endocrine disrupting properties and have there is strong evidence linking some pesticides with weight gain in experimental animals.
The effects of some pesticides are often complex and chronic, making it harder to determine the pesticides involved.An average American has acocktail of at least 29 different pesticide residues in their bodies.The interaction of these pesticides varies with each individual but have greater effects on the developing systems of children and have in some instances been blamed for disturbing the reproductive systems of animals by tampering with the complex regulation of hormones,the reproductive system and embryonic development.Examples of known endocrine disrupting chemicals include DDT, lindane,atrazine,carbaryl,and parathion.
Organic food has attracted global interest due to the current and potential concerns from the consumption of food produced from pesticides.According to most consumers, organic food has better taste compared to conventionally grown food. Studies have also shown that organic food has more nutritional superiority compared to non-organic food.Research conducted on several food types have shown that organic milk has more antioxidants,omega 3 fatty acids,conjugated linoleic acid and vitamins than non-organic food .Organic tomatoes also have higher antioxidants such as quercetin and kaempferol.Since organic food is pesticide free,this also means that it has organic food has a great impact on the overall health of its consumers owing to the absence of foreign chemicals negatively interacting with the vitamins,minerals and organic compounds present. Research has also shown that choosing organic food can lead to increased intake of nutritionally desirable antioxidants and reduced exposure to toxic heavy metals.Organic food is also often fresher because it does not contain preservatives that make it last longer since it is usually produced close to the consumers.Studies have also shown that how food is grown or raised can have a major impact on mental and emotional health as well as the environment.People with allergies to foods,chemicals or preservatives often find that their symptoms lessen or go away when they eat only organic foods hence further reinforcing the notion that the chemical composition of organic foods is superior in terms of human well-being.The consumption of organic food has been shown in several studies to reduce the chemical 'body burden" within weeks which has improved the quality of life of the participants remarkably.As it is virtually impossible to predict the potential effects of all the pesticides in different products, in different combinations, in different concentrations, under different conditions, under different time frames and in different groups of people, it is therefore prudent to move towards a healthier organic food based diet as a means to reduce the incidence of inexplicable conditions that have come about as a result of the complex interactions of chemicals that humans are constantly exposed to. While consuming organic food the consumer can be assured of deriving the benefits of healthy food without inadvertently consuming hidden traces of toxic unknownpesticides in the process.