Baby Organic Food, Scientific Evidence, and WHO’s Common Sense Suggestions!
When you are a single parent or first-time mom, finding healthy food for your little one becomes one of the biggest problems in your life. I remember my wife planning daily to feed for our first son. He liked processed foods which were not only tasty but also cheaper than the organic foods. We wanted to feed our son with the foods which not only grow him but also save him from diseases. The struggle continued for years to come. However, it was much easier for us to handle our next two babies as we had learned cooking organic foods in ways to meet both ends.
It is not only a shortage of resources but also non-availability of qualified information which is contributing to the problem. The advertisements on print, electronic, and social media are enhancing the concerns with to goal for ‘maximization of profits.’
Henry I. Miller terms propagating organic food a “green-hype” in his article “The Organic Food Hoax.”
However, why do we crave for organic foods?
When the organic food movement started in the first half of the 20th century, the industrialization had started, pesticides were a newfound gold, and people were happy with the processed, tastier, and readily available. The organic food industry was not able to make a billion US dollars before 1990. However, it has become mainstream by reaching 2019.
Does it mean millions of the people and families are insanely following the “green-hype” without applying their minds?
We may be insane.
But why farmers use pesticides?
The simple answer would be to kill other organisms which they consider harmful to their crops. It does not mean the organic farming does not use pesticides at all. However, pesticides for organic foods are either natural or rarely used.
Whatever may be, the research literature and evidence on pesticides residuals in food and impacts on humans are increasing.
In a research report NEONICOTINOID INSECTICIDES Harmful to Birds and Bees FOUND in CONGRESSIONAL CAFETERIA FOOD, issued by American Bird Conservancy, it was observed that the House and Senate cafeteria were supplying food items containing neonicotinoids.
The report further says that out of 66 samples taken from these cafeteria proved that 60 contained harmful pesticide residuals. It makes 91% from the most health conscious food places. A couple of months later another pesticides imidacloprid was found in 82% food samples.
It is not alone.
American Bird Conservancy also refers to studies to prove that organophosphate monocrotophos killed 20,000 hawks in 1996 as they ingested monocrotophos-poisoned grasshoppers in Argentina. The carbamate insecticide, carbofuran, has also killed a lot of birds in the United States on which in 2011, “the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the manufacturer’s last-ditch effort to keep carbofuran on the market.”
The common-sense question is, If birds like eagles and hawks can die on ingesting grasshoppers containing insecticides, what about our little ones who are too young for the quantities of chemicals found in various foods?
World Health Organization has reported that food-borne diseases affect 600 million people globally, which cost the governments to spend more than US$100 annually on their health.
The WHO also recognizes that neither good health can be maintained nor a happy life be maintained without safe and nutritious food. However, unsafe food causes more than 200 diseases, ranging from diarrhea to cancers.
The WHO also reports a checklist that, “Children under 5 years of age carry 40% of the food-borne disease burden, with 125 000 deaths every year.” It further says:
“Food safety, nutrition, and food security are inextricably linked. Unsafe food creates a vicious cycle of disease and malnutrition, particularly affecting infants, young children, the elderly and the sick.”
Some may object that the WHO does not promote organic food as an essential element for health and the environment. But it also limits the health hazards caused by pesticides to death or cancer. For example:
“Scientific studies of the potential health effects of hazardous chemicals, such as pesticides, allow them to be classified as carcinogenic (can cause cancer), neurotoxic (can cause damage to the brain), or teratogenic (can cause damage to a fetus).”
Here, we are not talking about such severe impacts of foods on human health. We are discussing the impact of pesticides residuals in food for babies. Our babies are so small that their bodies may not be able to defend against even the tiny residuals of these dangerous chemicals as we have seen regarding birds.
The WHO also reports, “Pesticides are potentially toxic to humans and can have both acute and chronic health effects, depending on the quantity and ways in which a person is exposed. Some of the older, cheaper pesticides can remain for years in soil and water. These chemicals have been banned from agricultural use in developed countries, but they are still used in many developing countries.”
Organic food movement proponents suggested everywhere that pesticides are harmful to adults an hazardous for babies. Mukund Joshi had suggested long ago in his book “Perils of Pesticides” that:
“Babies can get various diseases while exposed to pesticides. The results may be "dermatitis, reproductive impairment, deformity of limbs, loss of weight, hereditary deformity, miscarriage, loss of memory, loss of balance, loss of reasoning, tumors, ulcers, cancers, etc."
A recent study proposes:
“Prenatal exposure to organophosphate (OP) insecticides, a widely used class of pesticides, may be associated with decreased gestational age and lower birth weight. Single nucleotide polymorphisms in paraoxonase (PON1) enzyme genotypes may modify the relationships between OP exposure and perinatal outcomes.”
It means the food start affecting babies from the very first day of their inceptions. Another study reports:
“These findings support the hypothesis that organophosphate exposure, at levels common among US children, may contribute to ADHD prevalence.”
These undeniable facts and historical movement against use of pesticides on crops suggest that the organic baby food can have merits which conventional food doesn't have.
After going through the above studies, it is common sense to consider that baby organic foods should be safer and healthier for our little ones. I am not alone in this suggestion. Look at the World Health Organization. After discussion on role of pesticides for sustainable food system the WHO sheepishly suggests:
“Farmers should limit the amount of pesticide used to the minimum necessary to protect their crops.”
“It is also possible, under certain circumstances, to produce food without the use of pesticides.”
This possibility leads us to prefer organic foods for our families, particularly our babies.
By: Saqib Ali Ateel
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