ORGANIC FARMING 2.0
Continuing on the theme of Organic Farming, there are a few more things you should know about it. As you already know, Organic Farming does not allow synthetic compounds to be used (with some notable exceptions). Radiated foods are not allowed either, and GMOs (genetically modified organisms) are also off-limits. Almost all man-made pesticides and herbicides are shunned, along with nanomaterials, defined as particles that are in the nanoscale 1nm to 100nm in any dimension. A nanometer is 1×10-9 meter or one billionth of a meter. Nano foods are also unwelcome in the organic food industry. Hormones and antibiotics, with some exceptions, are forbidden. Some of the prohibitions are reasonable. The majority of forbidden foods are based on superstition and arbitrary rules that are not grounded in science. I will go over these ones by one and explain my logic for finding these rules mostly preposterous. Although following an organically grown diet is not harmful to individuals, in aggregate, there are societal and ecological damaging policies and practices generated by Organic Farming, such as failing to use the best products to stimulate production, thus diminishing the yield of the land. Avoiding appropriate insect control to the detriment of large segments of the population causes suffering and death, such as the elimination of DDT, which has caused a resurgence of Malaria with 300,000,000 cases a year, and about 1,000,000 deaths yearly, mostly in Africa. Avoiding appropriate medications to treat sick animals to satisfy superstition is also cruel.
The idea that man-made is bad and natural is good is an idea that stems from the German Romantic Era. When I was in primary school in Austria, I got a good taste of that social movement. I had to memorize the poetry of Johann Wolfgang Göthe and Heinrich Heine, who were the literary giants of German Romanticism, and listen to the music of Ludwig van Beethoven, Johannes Brahms, and Richard Wagner, the composers epitomizing that era. It was an attempt at modifying the strict science of Gregor Mendel, Joseph Lister, Ludwig Boltzmann, Max Plank, Erwin Schrodinger, and Albert Einstein, who were obsessed with mathematical accuracy and dominated by the “scientific method.” It was an effort to remake science to be more compatible with humanity’s need for spiritualism. Part of that effort was to emphasize nature and spiritual values. Man-made was the lesser, nature was the better. From that flowed the idea that man-made fertilizer was inferior to the natural product. Guano (bat manure) was to be preferred over the man-made product created through the Haber-Bosh process invented in 1909, making ammonia (NH3) from the atmosphere. You must admit it takes quite a bit of salesmanship to sell bat shit over a product created out of thin air. From that bit of flimflam came the claim that all the other substances that were “synthetic” were bad compared to natural, which was good. That concept is totally bogus! There is bad and good on both sides—arsenic – bad, Polio vaccine – good, or UV rays – bad, Cadbury Chocolate – good. We could go on for many pages listing man-made vs. natural. Suffice it to say. It is not the origin but the individual attributes of the product that define if it is good or bad for humanity. Ammonia from the air is just as good as Ammonia from guano. Synthetic fertilizers support food production for 9 billion people, for God’s Sake! It is a miracle! Rejecting synthetic fertilizer is on par with rejecting jet travel, cancer treatment, or the light bulb, not the brightest bulbs in the world!
It was Albert Einstein that introduced us to the concept that in the world of quantum mechanics very small particles can be a particle or a wave at the same time. Light travels as a wave 93,000,000 million miles away but hits the earth as a particle to make electricity in the Photoelectric Effect, for which Einstein won the 1905 Nobel Prize for physics. There are different types of waves. They can be ionizing or non-ionizing. Ionizing radiation has enough energy to knock off electrons from an atom. Non-ionizing radiation does not have that power but still can harm you. UV radiation can burn your skin. Microwaves can even kill. I knew a woman, a former patient, who, in her youth, put her baby in the microwave for just a few seconds to stop it from crying. She did beat the murder charge by claiming ignorance – pretty ignorant! Once you get out of the sun or turn off the microwave, these particles no longer hit you and cannot hurt you. The same is true for ά, β, γ, x, or neutron rays. Radiation does not stick around; once it passes through anything, it is gone, just like when you step out of sun rays. Food is radiated to kill bacteria and makes it safe to eat. It sterilizes the food, and it does not make it radioactive. It has been used for 30 years. Being afraid of radiated food is like being afraid of your microwave oven, just don’t get in it. It demonstrates your ignorance of what radiation is. To avoid radiated food is another thing that lets you join the ranks of the IQ challenged.
You may not realize it, but you have been eating GMO foods all your life. If you are reading this, you are likely still alive! Ten thousand years ago, various grasses that grew wild around the Sea of Galilee were harvested, and the seeds ground into flour. Emmer (Triticum dicoccum) and Einkorn (T. monococcum) were the best of them and eventually were planted by ancient man. These early kinds of wheat had four chromosomes. In 1970 Norman Borlaug won the Nobel Peace Prize for saving millions from starvation. He created a breed of wheat with 42 chromosomes (Frankenwheat). Regardless of how you do it, if you get from 4 genes to 42 genes you have “genetically” modified that plant! That wheat was more disease resistant, shorter, and therefore better to withstand storms, and had six times the yield of the older wheat. It is almost impossible to get the old wheat with just the original four chromosomes anymore. We all are eating GMO wheat. Many of the sugars, soybeans, sugar beets, corn, squash, seedless watermelon, apples, potatoes, papayas, and farmed salmon are GMO. Surprisingly we have not grown horns or a tail. We should watch the GMO food consumers very closely for signs of genetic changes, such as growing a third eye in the middle of their forehead.
My German background reminds me of the origin of the word “Pest.” It is the plague, the black death, that killed half of Europe. “Cide” is Latin for to kill. DDT is perhaps the archvillain of pesticides. Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring was the cause of the demise of DDT. Malaria killed millions of people, mainly in Africa. By eliminating the “Kryptonite” to mosquitos, Malaria made a comeback, and WHO reversed their 30-year ban on DDT. The attitude of Organic Farming of zero tolerance to synthetic pesticides is entirely hypocritical. Just one example, Nicotine, is an approved “natural” compound allowed in Organic Farming, but it is nevertheless highly toxic to man, something we all know. Without pesticides, we have insurmountable deaths and the destruction of crops. We must use Aristotle’s answer, the golden mean – not too much and not too little. Organic Farming does not recognize both sides of the coin!
Hormones and Antibiotics:
Hormones are fairly harmless. Thyroid, growth hormone, oxytocin, steroids, and insulin are all essential if there is a deficit, but harm the individual if there is an excess. I cannot quite understand the Organics’ abhorrence of hormones. If used in moderation and appropriately, they are mostly of benefit, even life-saving. If they cause harm, it is in the individual and causes no harm to the public.
Antibiotics, on the other hand, can cause harm. I see no justification for avoiding antibiotics to cure bacterial diseases in animals. In fact, withholding antibiotics if an infection is present is cruelty to animals and should not be allowed. Antibiotics used as prevention are, however, not appropriate. If no disease exists, treating with antibiotics encourages resistance to antibiotics and generates a strain that is not susceptible to antibiotics which can become dangerous to all animal and human life.
I left nanoparticles for last as I know little about them and thus have no authoritative opinions. My gut reaction is that digestion reduces most of what we eat to nano-size particles, and thus, our ancestors and we have been absorbing molecule-sized particles for millions of years. The research so far shows very little risk to nanotechnology, and thus another non-starter for Organic Farming concerns. It is likely more related to what the substance is than what size the particle is. Nanoparticles of silver can cause argyria, the turning of skin grey/blue with no other known ill effects. I have had dinner with people of Indian descent (people of India) of the upper 1%, and they served gold foil. I doubt that you would consume gold to the extent that you would get aurodermobia (a word I created). It might require a remake of the James Bond movie, Gold Finger.
Organic Farming is mostly junk science based on irrational and false assumptions. You should not waste your time or money on it, except maybe you should not eat nanoparticles of gold, silver, nor use Nicotine in any form