Steroids, Antibiotics, Sprays; Are food manufacturers killing us?
In 2016 World estimated population is 7.4 billion which is growing at the rate of 1.1% annually i.e. 75 million annually with this increasing burden of a population. In these years we are still waiting for a paradigm shift towards efforts on earth recreation. The cultivable land of the world has however experienced a dramatic decrease in an area due to various factors such as land is being taken over for the development of industries and residential complexes, erosion, improper land use practices, etc.
This stark contrast between the growth of mouths to feed and the decrease in an area on which food can be grown or raised has forced agriculturists, livestock and poultry farmers and food manufacturers as well as the governments of the world to search new method of increasing production or yield. In the recent survey by renowned food organization, the results were more shocking. It revealed that approximate 1576 tonnes of cereals were produced during period 1979-81 whereas it was 2270 tonnes in 2004 which was quite low in comparison to increased population.
Similarly, meat production was a 136 million tonnes during the period 1989-91 and 260 million tonnes in the year 2004 alone. Since food resources are decreasing and to meet the increasing demand Industries, have started the use of fertilisers, hormonal growth boosters in the form of steroid, and a various other chemicals, biochemical and organic products. It also becomes imperative that crops, livestock and poultry are protected from diseases and pests.
Researchers and farmers have been adding antibiotics and hormones for increasing the weight of the animals so it could sell for more, more meat equals more money. There is a famous line by Mark Hyman that-
"In the 21st century, our tastes buds, our brain chemistry, our biochemistry, our hormones and in our kitchens all have been hijacked by the food industry."
Not only the non-veg industry but on the other hand plant-based food products also use harmful pesticides even if it is "organic"(consisting a source of carbon) it doesn't mean it is free of chemicals. Fruits and vegetables often contain residues of such substances which are harmful to us, called pesticides, were being used by farmers to control pests and other pest-related diseases.
The food thus produced has to be transported in many areas and delivered to sales in towns and cities. Various preservatives are added to prevent the food from going bad. Due to the intense competition in the markets, food manufacturers start mixing additives in the food to make them more attractive, tasty and nutritious.
As we grow, we are more conscious about the quality of life and health, and start refusing to take the food-promoting advertisements of the food manufacturers at face value.
In many countries, it is the responsibility of the FDA to ensure that food from livestock that consists of steroids and medicated feeds are safe for consumption by human beings. Recently FDA had approved various naturally occurring steroids such as progesterone, estradiol and testosterone for many clinical, pathological conditions and other related uses. On the other hand, recent studies have found that the estradiol levels found in the meat of animals treated with the steroid could be enough to have harmful effects. In many countries of the world, livestock and poultry are treated with antibiotics to prevent diseases and promote growth.
Hormone residues excreted in manure also wind up in rivers and streams. Fertilisers indirectly affect human health by interfering with the ecosystem and biodiversity. When applied inefficiently only 30-40 percent of the fertilisers are absorbed by the plants while the rest move away to pollute ground water, soil and various other elements of the ecosystem.
Children are more affected by pesticides they consume more potentially pesticide-laced food and drinks, as their internal organs are more susceptible to pesticides, So due to exposure of pesticides Children suffer from many problems like- blurred vision, headaches, salivation, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, wheezing, eye problems, skin conditions, coma, and even death.
Nitrates and Nitrites (sources of nitrogen) from fertilisers are amongst the most common contaminants in drinking water. The maximum allowable concentration of nitrates in drinking water is 10-12 mg per liter. Any greater concentration affects the health of all living beings including human being who drink the water. High concentration of nitrates in drinking water is a cause of blue baby syndrome in infants less than six-year-old, and also leads to miscarriage in pregnant women.
Highly toxic metals such as uranium, mercury, lead and cadmium damage to the kidney, liver and lungs if they are taken indirectly through the medium of water, at very high concentrations.
It seems that though we are in a changing phase where old methods such as using steroids, fertilisers, antibiotics and pesticides are giving way to new and modern technologies. It is need of an hour that we should be adaptable to new emerging technologies. We should be very cautious and strict towards monitoring and evaluation of food products so that we can avoid potential threat to human being and give a better healthy world to our new generations.