Re: The labels said ‘organic.’ But these massive imports of corn and soybeans weren’t.

[Note:  This comment comes from friend Mary Hodder.  DLH]

From: mary@hodder.org
Subject: Re: [IP] Re The labels said ‘organic.’ But these massive imports of corn and soybeans weren’t.
Date: May 14, 2017 at 8:29:41 AM PDT
To: dave@farber.netdewayne@warpspeed.com

Richard Bennett posts a number of incorrect statements.

First, the Stanford study was a meta study of other studies cherry picked to come to the conclusion that organic foods had no nutritional value over conventional. However, there are many studies that show that conventional foods grown with synthetic fertilizers are ‘bigger’ in size, but have less vitamins or minerals per ounce — the way the Stanford study showcased these, if they used them, was simply to say the overall piece of food had inconclusively better nutrition.. and therefore you couldn’t really take a conventional carrot, say over an organic one, as more or less nutritious. It was a weak way of twisting the cherry picked studies to dampen the evidence that most organic foods are more nutritious ounce for ounce over conventional.

The Standford study also ignored, but footnoted, that yes, conventional foods are full of chemical pesticides that depending on the foods, end up in the food’s flesh and cannot be washed off (berries, green beans, bell peppers, etc). The study also footnoted that conventional farming “leaks” up to 90% of these synthetic fertilizers and chemical pesticides into runoff and then environment / water systems including aquifers and drinking water supplies.  And the study was done just after Monsanto gave Stanford a $40m grant for unrelated work, and the implication was they asked Stanford to do a study that would not be directly funded by them but would say that conventional foods were equally nutritious as organic foods. Lastly, the Standford meta-study also ignored but footnoted that conventional foods have thousands of times more roundup and we don’t know the implications of that on us (consuming it) or the effects on the environment since this practice of using 10-100x more roundup (compared to the 90s and 2000s) on conventional crops started in about 2010 — see Monsanto’s financial statements where they show a massive increase in US purchasing of Roundup because of the massive increase in their GMOs that can take it. This has resulted in superweeds that cannot be stopped by Roundup. It’s an arms race.

Secondly, there are many studies that show that conventional foods, blow up by synthetic fertilizers don’t have the vitamins and minerals, ounce for once, that organic foods do. Vitamins and minerals are associated with flavors (and colors), and we evolved to like flavor (and colors) because we need the vitamins and minerals. If you’ve eaten a ripe organic peach compared to a conventional one that is blown up by synthetic fertilizers and water logged in order to make it bigger and heavier, you’ve tasted the difference and studies have shown that organic fruits and veggies concentrated with flavors (and in a variety of colors) are more nutritionally packed. It depends on the crop, but for example, organic carrots were shown to have 30-40 times more vitamins and minerals than their conventional counterparts.

Lastly, organic food production of the “boutique” foods we like to eat (ie, not staples like corn, soy etc) is not environmentally wasteful. Farmers don’t overapply composted organic manure as it costs them a lot — much more than synthetic fertilizers — and they are careful to use organic fertilizers well. Farmers I know personally, from almond to hazelnut to lettuces and other fresh row crops to berries to stonefruits to citrus growers who are organic are careful and conscious of the use of organic pesticides and fertilizers. They are very expensive and used sparingly. Organic doesn’t mean pesticides and fungicides aren’t used, but rather are used from an approved organic list. You still have to wash them off, because if they are sprayed a few days before harvest, they can still have them. However, a conventional item might have something on it with a 2-month half-life — still fully functional as you eat it, where an organic crop is likely to have something on it with a 3-day half-life… so the chances we will ingest the organic pesticide are less. But you do still have to wash them.

I don’t know where Bennett gets his information but his assertions are not accurate based upon farming today — of the sort of foods we enjoy like veggies, fruits, and nuts, in places like California where most of the “fun” (ie non-staple) foods we get are grown.. as the organic farmers here and in other places are not doing the things he states.

But the way.. weed control in organic farms is not just done with “pulling or plowing”.. many farmers don’t plow in organic farms as it ruins the top soil nutritionally. Instead, they mow depending (fruit and nut tree farms for example) and use techniques to keep weeds out. But all the organic and “sustainable” farmers I know complain about how the conventional overuse of Roundup has led to superweeds and even though they are not using it, the superweed seeds have migrated, and they see 6′ high weeds in a matter of weeks between mowing.. because other conventional farmers overused roundup. Note that “sustainable” is a category with standards now, and depending on crop has different requirements. But it’s a good step for many farmers to go to before organic, as they learn how to do part of it, see some market benefits because sustainable and organic is a lot more work for people, and then they can move the final step to organic.

Mary

From: Richard Bennett <richard@bennett.com>
Date: May 13, 2017 at 4:42:53 PM EDT
To: Dave Farber <dave@farber.net>
Subject: Re: [IP] The labels said ‘organic.’ But these massive imports of corn and soybeans weren’t.

This is a good practice that should be encouraged. Organic food is basically a scam because it’s not more nutritious that conventional GMO food, and it’s much worse for the environment that food grown with modern methods. Stanford did a monster analysis on the nutrition issues, and there have be numerous studies on the environmental impact. 

It comes down the fact that organic is less productive than conventional farming, so it takes more acres of land for organic to produce the same output. This means more water, more CO2 from tractors, and more runoff. Organic food has to be fertilized with manure, which doesn’t have precise doses of nutrients. So farmers have to over-apply, which leads to runoff. Modern farming methods called “precision agriculture” apply water, pesticides, and nutrients on-demand and in the doses needed. This stuff is all enabled by IT, GPS, and networking in general.

Organic is also horrible at carbon sequestration because its only effective weed control methods are manual pulling and plowing, while GMO farmers can use zero-till methods with herbicide-tolerant plants. 

Many people mistakenly believe that organic food is pesticide-free, while it isn’t. Organic farmers are permitted to use a broad panoply of pesticides from the OMRI registry and even to use synthetic pesticides in low doses when all else fails. As one would expect, naturally-derived pesticides are less effective than synthetics, hence higher doses and greater environmental impact. 

So the best solution for people who want to eat organic is to apply the organic label to conventional foods. This allows consumers to overpay and enjoy the placebo effect without harming the planet.  

Bravo.

RB

 

The labels said ‘organic.’ But these massive imports of corn and soybeans weren’t.
By Peter Whoriskey
May 12 2017
<https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/the-labels-said-organic-but-these-massive-imports-of-corn-and-soybeans-werent/2017/05/12/6d165984-2b76-11e7-a616-d7c8a68c1a66_story.html&gt;

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