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Nowadays, when the air, water and soil are polluted with human waste and environmental situation despite all efforts of humanity continues to deteriorate, people are beginning to think about their health more and more often. The Chinese proverb says "Tell me what you eat, and I'll tell you what you are."
The supporters of a healthy lifestyle and all those who just want to live better, are familiar with the expression "organic food". But this kind of food is not a new trend and not a modern invention of scientists. In fact, it is a food that has been lost over the lifetime of technological civilizations.
The business of organic-food is booming now. According to the market research of Hartman Group, nearly 70% of Americans buy organic food occasionally, and about 25% buy it every week. The reason for most of people is that we want natural food that is better for us and for the environment, says Samuel Fromartz, the author of Organic, Inc. The problem is that buying organic costs 50 percent more, so is it worth of it? (Canavari. p. 45).
Organic food is products, produced in accordance with certain standards, implying that they were grown without the use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers. In Europe, such a standard is "pan-European agreement on cleaner production of agricultural products" that was signed on the 24th of June 1991. To assign the final product status of "green" regulatory authorities inspect all the way "from seed to the countertop": agricultural land and agricultural practices, planting material, processing, packaging. National certifying organizations check the quality of products. Sign of such an organization on the product label is a reliable guarantee of its quality and environmental cleanliness (Langley. p. 22).
Such an "environmentally clean" product is determined by three parameters: the environmentally-clean raw materials, ingredients and manufacturing process.
Environmentally clean raw materials. Organic farms do not use chemical fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides and fungicides. For pest control biological and physical methods are used: natural enemies, noise, ultrasound, light, traps, etc. A lot of agricultural techniques are performed manually, in order not to make harm to plants and soil.
Environmentally clean ingredients. In addition to raw materials, the composition of the product consists of different ingredients, without which the complex production is impossible: filling, stuffing, colorants, preservatives. Environmentally clean ingredients are derived from natural materials, without the use of synthetic elements (for example, grape or apple vinegar is added while canning). In addition to the merits, environmentally clean ingredients have a number of shortcomings: for example, natural dyes are unstable to the effects of temperature, have low intensity and are extremely expensive in manufacturing).
Workflow and technological process. Environmentally clean raw materials are processed by sparing physical methods, saving maximum nutrients. Completely prohibited are the things like: chemical refining, deodorization, hydrogenation, radiation exposure, artificial and synthetic sweeteners, preservatives, flavors, salt content and fortification of products, genetically modified ingredients. For example, the process of production of vegetable oils is as follows: obtaining oil by cold mechanical pressing; packaging oil in dark glass or metal bottles (protection from ultraviolet rays); injection the hydrogen, in order to prevent oxidation.
"Organic" has several rather specific legal definitions in all developed countries of the world. In the US, all products or farms, which claim to be "certified organicÂ», ought to be approved by USDA-approved independent agency to meet the following guidelines: have sound records about all operations; not to use antibiotics or hormones in livestock; not to use irradiation or genetically modified organisms; use crop rotation practice; no to use prohibited materials 3 years before certification, or during certification.
The USDA explains 'prohibited materials' such as sewage sludge, synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. One more requirement is that there shouldn't be any cross-contamination during processing.
As it is written on the site of Organic Food News, that produce grown organically tastes much better than the usual food from supermarket. Such food contains more nutrients and less residual pesticides (Organic Food News). In general we can say that food grown without pesticides, herbicides and genetically modified organisms is organic to some extent.
Supporters of organic food say that organically grown foods are safer include more nutrition elements than foods rose with non-organic methods (antibiotics, pesticides, non-organic fertilizers, and hormones). A lot of people don't trust such chemicals and don't wish to put them into their bodies. Because all non-organically produced foods contain kinds of chemicals, that is why the best way to avoid them is to eat organic foods.
In order to be certified as organic, the producers of food should use farms that are certified as organic. It means that they are checked by government officials to be sure these farms are according USDA organic standards. Such inspectors make sure that the environment is without pesticides, synthetic fertilizers or other non-organic compounds and that only organic method are used.
The fact that the organic food doesn't contain pesticides and other dangerous components makes her better for. Even thought some researches show that little amounts of residues of chemical pesticides that are in non-organically grown foods is not really dangerous to the health of people, a lot of people don't believe in it. Studies show that children who have usual diets have more pesticides in their organisms than children who eat organic food. There are experts who think that such pesticides may possibly lead to problems with normal neurological development. Most people try not to use the antibiotics and hormones of growth which are used on conventionally grown farm animals. The use of antibiotics may be the reason of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria.
People, who prefer organic food, tell that it is more nutritious than conventionally grown foods. But there is no official evidence to show that organic food really contains more nutrients than non-organic foods. It is only known that organic food contain more vitamin C and have higher quality protein content. One more fact that is known for sure is that animals grown with organic feeds are usually healthier than animals fed conventional feeds.
According to Shereen Jegtvig, the organic farming is not only better for the animals, but is also better for the environment. It tells that the organic farms are more close to wildlife and land conservation programs (Jegtvig. 2008).
The article "Environmentally clean products are dangerous for the health", published in 2002 by experts of the Moscow Institute of Nutrition named after Otto Kuusinen tells about harmful effect of organic food.
In the published report the results of two-year research was presented. The group of volunteers ate only environmentally clean food from Moscow shops. As it turned out, the last few generations have become used at the gene level to the nitrates that are contained in the products. Nearly all people need them, as well as vitamins and minerals. With a lack of nitrates the body tries to compensate their content with overeating, or even such bad habits as smoking, alcohol and drug abuse.
Since the number of people on Earth over the past century has increased from 1.5 to 5.5 billion people and by 2020 the outgrowth is expected to be up to 8 billion, so there is a huge challenge facing humanity. The problem lies in the huge increases in food production, despite the fact that over the past 40 years, production increased 2.5 times, it is still not enough. Because of it the world has a social stagnation, which is becoming more vivid. The production of genetically modified (GM) products is now the most important and most controversial question.
The benefits of GM products are obvious: they are not exposed to the harmful effects of bacteria, viruses; they are characterized by high fertility and long shelf life. The consequences of their use are not obvious till the end yet: geneticists can not yet answer the question whether genetically modified foods are harmless for humans.
Genetically modified plants are plants in which the genetic material has been altered in a way that doesn't happen naturally. GM plants include some alien that gives them some additional qualities; for example, develop resistance to herbicides and pesticides, increasing resistance to pests, increase yields.
GM products appear in a result of implantation of another DNA to the plant. Donors for such implantations can be bacteria, viruses, other plants, animals and even people. For example, it was got a frost-resistant tomato, in which the DNA of North American marine flatfish was built in. To creation of wheat that is resistant to drought, the gene of scorpion is used.
The first transgenic products have been created by Monsanto Company (USA) at the end of 80`s. The first planting of transgenic crops were made in 1988, and in 1993 the first products with GM components appeared for sale. The first transgenic product was a tomato.
Full range of studies of the GMO impact on humans and animals has not been yet carried out. Assessment of nutritional risk from the consumption of GMO products is now available on the basis of fragmentary data and not completed scientific facts.
Many scientists are afraid that GMO increase the risk of food allergies, poisoning and mutations, promotes the formation of tumors, but also cause resistance to antibiotics. It is not excluded the possibility that foreign DNA can accumulate in internal organs of the body, and fall into the nuclei of cells of embryos, which can lead to congenital deformities and even fetal death. To the risk group can be included children up to 4 years old (Green. p. 17).
Allergenicity and toxicity can appear after eating GM food. More than half of transgenic proteins that provide resistance of plants to insect, fungal and bacterial diseases are toxic and allergenic.
Substances intended to control insects, can block the enzymes of the digestive tract, not only in insects, but also in humans and can also affect the pancreas.
A number of transgenic varieties of maize, tobacco and tomato, that is resistant to insect pests, produce lignin (a substance that prevents infecting of plants). It can break down into toxic and mutagenic phenols and methanol. Therefore an increase of lignin in fruits and leaves of plants is dangerous for people.
The most bright example of the toxicity of GMO was the case with the Japanese company Showa Denko K.. K., which brought to market a feedingstuff GM tryptophan, believing that it is equivalent to the unmodified counterpart. GM amino acid caused the death of 37 people and about one thousand five hundred were left crippled for the whole life (Freedman. p.50).
Carcinogenicity and mutagenicity are side effects of GM food. GMOs may be mutagenic and carcinogenic due to their ability to accumulate herbicides, pesticides and their decomposition products. For example, the herbicide glyphosate, used for the cultivation of transgenic sugar beet and cotton, is a potent carcinogen and can cause lymphoma.
Some herbicides can have negative effects on survival and health of human embryos, and cause mutations.
As a result of intracellular processes in the GM varieties of tobacco and rice, there is an accumulation of biologically active substances that can trigger a cancer. Studies have shown that rats that were fed with transgenic potatoes, composition of blood changed, there were identified some anomalies in the size of internal organs, almost all the dead animals had pathology of small intestine.
One more side effect is the emergence of antibiotic resistance. Most GM agricultural products in addition to genes that give them the desired qualities also contain antibiotic resistance genes as markers. Conventional antibiotics such as ampicillin (respiratory infections, sinusitis and urinary tract infections) and kanamycin (tuberculosis, infections of the upper and lower respiratory tract, treating wounds) are used in the production of food. There is a danger that they may be transferred to pathogens that can cause their resistance to antibiotics. In this case, the traditional methods of treatment of inflammation with antibiotics will be ineffective.
Resistance to a group of antibiotics used while treating lung infections, Chlamydia and urinary tract infections in Spain, the Netherlands and the UK reached 82%.
A lot of countries met with the unpredictability of action and danger of GM organisms. In 2000, the World Scientific Declaration about the dangers of genetic engineering was published (World Scientists Statement ..., 2000). Later there was then an Open letter written by scientists to all Governments about GMOs, (which was signed by 828 scientists from 84 countries) was also published (Open letter ..., 2000). Experimental studies showed the pathological changes in organs of animals and their offspring after feeding them with different GM food. Thus, British researchers found the risk of GM potatoes for animals (Pusztai, 1998, Ewen, Pusztai, 1999), Italian colleagues found the risk of GM-soy (Malatesta et al., 2002, 2003), Australian scientists - GM-peas (Prescott et al ., 2005), and French - GM maize (Seralini et al., 2007). These works scientists managed to publish, but there are still a lot of unpublished researches.
Despite numerous studies about the dangers of GMO, the number of areas with transgenic crops (wheat, soy, corn, cotton, potatoes, beets, tobacco, tomatoes, etc) is growing. At this stage of biotechnology development, the dissemination of GMOs is premature and can pose a real threat to the existence of living organisms on Earth. Any research problem should go the way of development associated with scrupulous research and numerous checks (Skancke. 112).
The usage of new technologies without a clear understanding of the consequences of their actions may lead to the most tragic consequences. The large-scale distribution of transgenic organisms and the gradual introduction of foreign genetic material into cells of plants, animals and humans can lead to irreversible pathological changes in the organisms of living beings and to their extinction. In this regard, there is a need to conduct a thorough research of the GMO`s impact on living organisms and their offspring, and the development of safe for living organisms and environmental biotechnology.
Every person should think himself what food he want to eat. There are a lot of articles and researches that support each kind of food. It is believed that organic foods are healthier and more useful but they also can make negative impact on people. According to some research, organic food can be more nutritional than conventional food. And the reason for this is that in the absence of pesticides and fertilizers, plants increase the quantity of the vitamins and antioxidants and that is how they strengthen their resistance to different weeds and bugs. There are studies that have linked pesticides in our food to all diseases: headaches, cancer, birth defects. But still a lot of experts believe that the quantity in conventional food is safe for nearly all healthy grown-up people.
It should be also mentioned that buying organic food is also better for the environment. Regarding the Organic Trade Association Organic, farming lowers pollutants in groundwater and enriches soil. It also decreases pesticides that can later to fall into human bodies. Organic farming uses less energy than conventional farming methods (DeCostole).
Organically clean vegetables and fruits look less attractive, they can not long keep in stock, but they are much tastier and more nutritious ones that are grown in a traditional way. They have more vitamins, minerals, nutrients and bioactive substances.
Of course, due to the efforts expended on the cultivation and less productive economy, the organic food is more expensive than usual, that is why every person chooses the food for himself.