Is Organic Food Better? Why Eating Organic is Still Better & Safer

(excerpts from Nature’s Glory reply to Straits Time Singapore article dated 9 Aug 2014 by Andy Ho)

In the debate of whether organic food is better, we’ve come across 3 main reasons why eating organic food is still better and safer. Here are some excerpts from our reply to an ST article dated 9 August 2014 by Andy Ho:

Natural Pesticides are not more toxic than synthetic ones

In my personal interview of 8 organic farmers who supplied their organic produce to us, 7 of them were not focusing on pesticide use, but rather strengthening of soil with minerals and balancing the soil pH to make the plants strong, with their own immune system and repellent chemicals to fight and repel the pests which attack them. According to these seasoned farmers, “Pests only attack plants which are weak, and the strong plants are not attacked or eaten by pests”

The main strategy employed by these farms showed that IF correct methods of cultivation are applied to make the plants strong, there is NO NEED for the use of pesticides at all. On the other hand, the use of high levels of nitrates and chemical fertilizers by conventional farmers for quick growth tend to make the plants weak and very susceptible to pests attacks, hence requiring regular dosing of pesticide and other chemicals.

Other organic farmers we interviewed use neem plants surrounding farms, goats that help eat weed, cultivating according to the moon calendar, insect traps and other forms of biological control to repel pests. Yet others use non toxic natural aids like neem oil, garlic and chilli oil to REPEL, rather than kill pests (these are GRAS - Generally Regarded As Safe by the governing bodies and are also consumed regularly in our diet).

Methods like crop rotation, companion planting, proper composting and other environmentally friendly methods of agriculture have been proven adequate in the control of pests, without the use of pesticides, contrary to what Mr Andy Ho had mentioned.

More recently, it was discovered that healthy frequencies (we termed as Nano Energy Frequencies in Quantum Physics) can also be used as a means of harmlessly repelling the insects from attacking the crops.

None of the farmers we interviewed use the natural pesticides (Rotenone & Pyrethrin) mentioned in Mr Andy Ho’s article. Only one organic farmer interviewed mentioned that he used natural pesticides which were approved by organic certification bodies, but ONLY during certain colder seasons like Christmas when there was greater possibility of infestation (as plants were weaker due to the cold), and for the most part of the year, no pesticides were used, as the plants were strong and not attacked by any pests due to the special volcanic soil he used.

If the majority of the organic farmers I interviewed DO NOT use even natural pesticides, or a very select few, and only when absolutely necessary, this surely cuts down the amounts of toxins in our food source, making organic food clearly safer than non organic foods?

Interestingly, a recent UK study by a group of well respected scientists revealed that organically grown plants secreted much larger quantities of natural plant repellents compared to pesticide sprayed ones. As the pesticide sprayed plants are hardly attacked by pests, they hardly secreted any of such repellents due to lack of stimuli. The organically grown ones secreted large amounts of such repellents to repel the insects and pests which tried to attack them.

NASAA Organic Certification

Mr Andy Ho’s article also seems to imply that certifying bodies do not check on the levels of pesticides (synthetic or natural) in organic foods, citing some examples of pesticides found in organic produce by US scientists.

While this may be true of some certifying bodies due to varying standards, this is not true for other stricter certifying bodies like NASAA (from Australia), which is where Nature’s Glory has chosen to certify our products.

If one carefully looks at what NASAA has put in their standard protocols of checks, it is stated clearly that not only initial checks are done, but randomized checks are done even if the farm has a clean record of chemical free residue in their farms for the last 3 years. Standards are much stricter than what is allowed conventionally and detection of residues results in the farm losing their certification. Below are the standards clearly stated and exercised in NASAA’s protocol:

    i) NASAA, in accordance with the NASAA Organic Standard (NOS) which is derived from the National standard for organic and biodynamic produce as mandated by the Australian government via the Department of Agriculture clearly outlines in sect 2.1 precertification general principles that the initial inspection will include residue testing of soil and/or tissue samples.
        ii) Further to this even if they have previously had a proven 3 year record of organic management they still are required to have ‘comprehensive approved soil nutrient and contamination testing with demonstrable amelioration of soil deficiencies.’ (2.3.1 NOS)
          iii) And again, (3.1.15 NOS) outlines the requirement of ongoing randomized testing for contaminants. Surely the unpredictable nature of this discourages the misuse of disallowed inputs with immediate suspension potentially an outcome.
            iv) In addition (3.1.3 NOS) states organic produce/product sampled must not exceed 10% of the Maximum limit (ML) (as outlined in the Aust. NZ Food standards code) for chemicals for that produce/product where historical contamination is present. Chemical residues that are detected at any level for a specified product that cannot be explained by historical practices will automatically disqualify the specified product from certification and may result in suspension and/ or decertification of the operator.
              v) Finally, (sect 6.1.11 NOS) outlines Meat, wool, eggs, milk and honey will be subject to NATA approved laboratory of tissue for chemical and heavy metal residues by NASAA prior to application of the label.

                So as we can see the NASAA standards require strict adherence to these requirements amongst others in the testing of residues and contaminants from precertification right through the process.

                vi) Under the National and NASAA standards it is a requirement to maintain strict records of input quantities and usage within their organic management plan so his point within the article under NASAA standards is incorrect.

                  vii) Selected natural pesticides, while allowed by NASAA can also be checked by NASAA during routine tests, if there is a case for suspicion of the overuse of such.

                  Aside from certifications and random tests conducted by NASAA, our local and oversea farmers confidently welcome Nature’s Glory customers themselves to visit or “spot check” on their farms at any time to see how their organic crops are grown and how pests are being managed in their farms.

                  Other Benefits of Organic Food Products

                  Many other aspects about certified organic products are NOT mentioned by Mr Andy Ho.

                  Nature’s Glory upholds its own high standards of organic integrity including the exclusion of any known source of Genetic Engineered (GE) or Genetic Modified (GM) crops. Supply of organically grown crops are deliberately chosen from countries which ban GM crops like Australia, New Zealand and Japan. Other organically grown crops from the USA are selected carefully to ensure that they achieve Non GMO status before we represent. While this is the case, it has been increasingly difficult, as large corporations are “forcing” even organic farms in the US to use GM seed and this has been spreading and destroying wildlife in the US.

                  The use of GM seeds has in fact not reduced but tremendously INCREASED the need for large volumes of pesticides and herbicides to kill such “superweeds” and “superbugs”, much to the delight of the same chemical companies who produced these toxic chemicals and made these GM seeds.

                  Yet another dimension of GM foods had been conveniently left out by mainstream pro GMO media, is the inherent nature of the toxins produced by GM plants which are expressed WITHIN the cells of these plants and CANNOT be washed off by simply rinsing with water thoroughly, as suggested by Mr Andy Ho. 

                  Recent examples are the use of systemic insecticides, which coat GMO corn and soy seeds and are incorporated and expressed inside the entire plant, which has skyrocketed in the last ten years. This includes use of neonicotinoids (neonics) which are extremely powerful neurotoxins that contaminate our food and water and destroy non-target pollinators and wildlife such as bees, butterflies and birds. In fact, two neonics in widespread use in the U.S. are currently banned in the EU because of their suspected link to Colony Collapse Disorder in bees.

                  Interestingly, one Australian farmer I interviewed also revealed that the toxins produced by GM crops not only killed the wildlife, they also killed the beneficial bacteria residing in the soil, resulting in very loose soil and much greater quantity of water to irrigate the crops. While this also means more soil erosion, nutrient depletion and less efficient use of our precious water supply, one also wonders if such bacterial toxins kill the good flora in our gut, when we eat them, and if so, destroying one of our first line of defense against harmful bacteria in the gut.

                  Quoting Mr David Bronner’s blog on Dr Seider article: “Mainstream pro-GMO media also fail to discuss the ever-increasing amount of older much more toxic herbicides like 2,4 D and Dicamba being sprayed along with huge volumes of Glyphosate to deal with superweeds.

                  Most importantly and egregiously, this biased reporting does not mention the imminent approval of the pesticide industry's next generation herbicide-tolerant crops that are resistant not only to glyphosate, but also high doses of 2,4 D and Dicamba, that will lead to huge increases of these toxic chemicals sprayed on our food and farming communities. USDA and EPA are in the process of rubber-stamping these into our farming communities (and unlabeled onto our dinner plates) this fall, yet pro-GMO media consistently fail to discuss their imminent approval even as the lower-toxicity profile of Glyphosate is touted. 

                  Such reporting gives a pass to the chemical pesticide industry that pours millions into lobbying government and media elites and defeating voter ballot initiatives to require labeling of GMO foods. Hopefully Dr. Seidler's article will be widely read and disseminated, so reporters can learn the facts and check their biases against industry-fed distortions. Citizens and consumers need to hear the fundamental concern that GMOs are doubling down on, not freeing us from, the pesticide treadmill that contaminates our food and water while lining the pockets of the chemical companies that make both the GMOs and the pesticides used on them.” (Mr Bronner is a graduate in Biology at Harvard University and president of America’s top selling natural soaps, Dr Bronner’s and is a leader in campaigning for GMO labeling of foods).

                  Currently, there is no law in Singapore which mandates the labeling of GM foods.

                  Other aspects of organic process not discussed by Mr Andy Ho includes the fact that all other chemicals are not allowed in the processing of certified organic products. These include preservatives, colourings, additives etc which have shown to be harmful in the long term. Parabens for example is commonly used as a preservative in conventional shampoos, other personal care products and food are now found to be accumulated in high levels in breast cancer tissues. Our Dr Bronner’s Magic soaps do not contain any chemicals.

                  Also, chemical fogging of food products and use of chemical sprays are strictly not allowed in the storage of certified organic products.

                  Certified organic warehouses like ours employ low temperatures monitored 24 hours a day to store and keep the crops fresh and relatively bug free.

                  Other non-chemical aspects of Nature’s Glory certified organic foods include avoidance of irradiation of foods which could also be potentially harmful in the long term.

                  The accumulated amounts of chemicals and toxins from farm to final product may indeed be staggering if not for a strict internationally recognized organic certifying body disallowing the use of such chemicals and checking for them.

                  In conclusion, we could not at all agree with Mr Andy Ho’s article implying that certified organic food is more toxic than non organic produce. Beside the commendable efforts of the majority of our organic farmers recently interviewed not using pesticides of any sort, the strict organic standards enforced by certifying bodies like NASAA prevents or reduces to a large extent such pesticides and other chemicals from farm to finish. 

                  In addition, Nature’s Glory's ongoing effort to exclude all forms of irradiated and GM food supply also reduces the chances of inherent toxins found in GM foods, besides the reportedly large doses of external pesticides and herbicides applied on them. Besides, the larger quantities of natural secretions from organically grown plants have been recently shown to have good effects on our health and could be the missing link to current cures sought after for modern diseases.

                  Nature’s Glory is a homegrown organic food company founded in Singapore by Mr Peter Lim, with a vision to get the best from Nature to benefit Mankind at most affordable prices. We pioneered the organic food movement in Singapore since 1991. 
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