As a curious person, I have gone through tons of literature about the debate – organic vs GMO. My conclusion, backed by most of the scientists on this planet is that when it comes to nutrients, the debate does not matter! Same is the case with the use of pesticides. It DOESN’T matter!
In a recently published article, researchers are saying that the nutrients in the food outweigh the risk of intake of pesticides, particularly for your growing children. Many parents carry the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen list when they shop for the family. This is the list of the most pesticide-rich foodstuffs, and people end up buying the ‘Organic’ version of it. It is alright to do so. But if you end up not buying it because there is no organic alternative, you are probably depriving your child of some nutrients that your child needs.
These lists of unproven scientific value, are driving the consumer habits all over the world. Add the onslaught of a few pseudo-scientist Social media Organic zealots, and people end up believing in every picture they see on the internet. A lack of interest in basic science has resulted in many people rejecting anything that has ‘chemicals’ in it. In fact, people are so afraid of chemistry jargon, that people will stop eating apples if I tell them that Dihydrogen Monoxide (H2O) is found in them (It is the chemical jargon for water, for those who do not remember).
Due to the demonisation of anything genetically altered, people have a lot of myths around Organic food. The three most important ones are as follows
1# Organic foods are grown without pesticides
Use of pesticides and organic seeds are two very different things. Organic are termed so because the seeds and pesticides are supposedly unaltered by any human process. Pesticides are essential to protect the crop from pests. The pesticides may be of biological origin, like say, hormone traps. However, at the end of the day, no crop is mass-produced without the use of pesticides.
2# Organic food has more nutrition
Well, when you choose to buy organic tomatoes for $14 instead of the regular tomatoes at $2, you try and minimise your family’s exposure to synthetically produced pesticides. However, there is no scientific backing to this theory that organic food has more nutrients than GM food.
I understand your choices: free range eggs vs the eggs from a poultry. It makes your food sound more humane. However, all foods are broken down inside the body into the basic building blocks : Vitamins, minerals, water, carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. There is nothing beyond it. So the Vitamin B12 your child receives from the regular cow milk and that derived from the organically procured milk by the happy cows from the Hokkaido province from Japan is the same. In fact, the latter might not be as fresh as your local dairy’s milk.
3# GMO is not food
Every living thing on this planet that we see today is genetically modified. It is called as evolution. The way genetic modification works is by dropping the unwanted traits and adopting new ones to suit the changes in the environment. If it did not happen, we would still be single celled organisms floating blissfully in the ocean, not giving a damn about parenting. But here we are!
When a company genetically modifies a foodstuff, it is by the same process, just quicker. This makes the crops more robust, increases the yield, and gives us more food per unit area of cultivable land. So, thanks to GM food, there is lesser food shortage today than there was a 100 years ago. Less number of children are dying of hunger and malnutrition. It is a source of nutrition at the end of the day, and your liver is strong enough to detoxify any toxins, including minute quantities of pesticides, and provide you nutrition.
Mums and dads, I am not discrediting Organic food. I just want to demystify both Organic and GMO foods so that you are better informed when you take the decision.
- A diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweighs the risks of pesticides. Washington Post.
- Organic food no more nutritious than conventionally grown food. Harvard Medical School.
- Introduction to Organic Farming. Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, food and rural affairs.
- GMOs: Research Says They’ll Help End Starvation, but Americans Remain Wary. UC Berkeley.
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