Farm chemicals sprayed or spread on food crops is necessary for economies of scale. It takes large commercial farms to feed 300 million citizens as well as meet the export demands for corn, wheat and soybeans.
None of this would happen without chemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides. Because of these farm chemicals, commercial agribusiness and "organic" don't even belong in the same sentence.
Thankfully, in most communities there is still a choice. community gardens, farmers markets and more and more supermarkets are now offering organic produce and dairy products.
There is a growing movement to rein in the excessive use of farm chemicals in big agribiz as well as to reform the monoculture and factory farm system. A couple of books by Marion Nestle and Jacob Siver.
They both cover the vast landscape of today's food production network and expose some very unsettling truths, not just about farm chemicals but the whole system. Click on the books covers to see what they are about.
For everyone else who must consume farm chemicals, aggressive supplementation is very necessary for detoxifying the body of such chemicals and taking care of a flood of oxidizing free radicals created by eating industrial chemicals.
Several questions are raised. Do agricultural food crops take up agricultural chemicals into the harvested fruit and vegetables?
Does animal flesh and dairy products produced from animals that are fed a steady diet of highly fertilized and poisoned corn, soy and other grains contain these chemicals?
Do agricultural chemicals compete with soil nutrients in growing plants? If consumed as a contaminant in food, how do industrial farm chemicals affect health of the individual?
Herbicides are chemicals designed to kill weeds or grasses that would otherwise crowd food crops and compete for scarce soil nutrients.
Pesticides kill insects that feast on food crops and if left unchecked could wipe out an entire crop. To those we could also add fungicides to control various types of fungi that attack plants.
Herbicides or, in plain language, weed killers, are toxins and are hazardous to human and animal health. Some target
specific unwanted plants while others kill any plants they come in contact with. The problem is that people work the fields and orchards on which these chemicals are sprayed and they pay the price.
All farm chemicals, whether herbicides, pesticides or fungicides, are toxic to humans and cause health effects that range from mild skin rashes to death.
Parkinson's disease is significantly higher among farm workers and there is a very clear linkage between the disease and exposure to herbicides and pesticides, particularly Paraquat.
Many of them are carcinogenic and have been linked to a wide variety of cancers, including breast cancer. Although not proven conclusively, there is convincing evidence that a group of broadleaf weed killers known as phenoxy herbicides can cause soft tissue sarcoma and non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma.
Ingredients in Monsanto's ubiquitous herbicide, Roundup, have been shown to cause genetic damage and, in vitro (in the lab), killed human embryonic, placental, and umbilical cells.
Ongoing direct contact with herbicides and pesticides is hazardous to humans. What about ingestion of such toxic chemicals from eating treated crops, whether given to domestic animals as feed or consumed by humans as fruit, vegetables, grains and dairy products?
Plants absorb agricultural chemicals. Herbicides can enter the plant by being absorbed from the soil by the roots. The other avenue of entry to the plant is by direct absorption by the leaves or other foliage.
As far back as 1991, research found traces of pre-emergent corn herbicides in milk suggesting that industrial chemicals applied to corn fields can find its way into human diets via meat and dairy products from the livestock fed corn (Pylypiw and Hankin, 1991).
Plants do not absorb chunks of solid material. Minerals, including toxic heavy metals such as lead, cadmium and even arsenic, get "dissolved" in ground water and then taken up by the plants root system, including both good and bad metals. Ever wondered how spinach gets its high iron content? This is it.
Since the root system is the doorway to the plant for toxic chemicals and heavy metals, what does that say about consuming root plants; beets, potatoes, carrots, onions and the like? It says we better seriously consider going organic or supplementing smartly or both.
Uranium, radium and similar radioactive isotopes are readily taken up by plants. In fact, the ability of plants to absorb and hold dissolved metals has been studied intensely as a possible means to take contaminants out of soil and water and return contaminated fields to safe use.
Great idea unless someone plans on eating the fruit of those plants. Again, it comes down to organic or a good grade detox supplement.
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