CONVENTIONAL FOOD PRODUCTION
The Obscene Truths of Industrial Food:
After reading the standards of organic food, consumers may not be surprised by the quality conveyed by an organic logo. It would seem that an organic logo represents common-sense food production practices, but this is simply not the case.
- The industrial food industry goes to great lengths to keep a veil over their production practices, and keep consumers in the dark.
- These practices confer numerous externalities, the costs of which fall on consumers in the long-run.
What Consumers Should Know About Conventional Produce:
- Widespread use of the best-growing conventional seeds allow for only a very narrow selection of edible plants on the market. This lack of variety is a product of monoculture, which is a high-risk system compared to a system which promotes biodiversity. Monoculture crops are highly susceptible to disease, pests, and rapid wipe-outs.
- Chemical herbicides (the most famous of which is The Monsanto Corporation’s Roundup), fungicides, and pesticides are sprayed heavily and repeatedly over crops to control for weeds and pests. Over time, these non-biodegradable compounds collect in and poison the eco-system. In humans, flora, and fauna, numerous aberrations, from reproduction problems, dermatological conditions, illnesses, and even death are documented annually. Compounds are found in high concentrations on the surface of food, even after the food is washed. These compounds are eaten directly by consumers, and concentrations found in human tissue increase over time. Longitudinal studies are still being conducted, but scientists fear these compounds (along with numerous other inputs resulting from our modern way of life) may contribute to illnesses such as cancer.
- Soil fertility is supplemented by petroleum-based chemical fertilizers, and animal slurry (often sourced from factory farms, which are breeding grounds for virulent diseases). The use of fossil fuels to grow cash crops is counter-intuitive, particularly since the surpluses from cash crops are frequently converted into bio-fuels in attempts to alleviate dependence on petroleum.
- The higher, unnatural, chemical-aided yields of conventional crops distort the price of food. Surpluses flood markets, and make it almost impossible for small, local, and organic crops to compete, particularly in developing regions. This phenomenon destroys the way of life for countless farmers in the developing world; conventional industrial food production is an institution which prevents small-time ascent in the economic farm world, due to heavy reliance on inputs such as chemical sprays, fertilizers, and machinery.
- Conventional produce is typically picked unripe, then a gassed or irradiated to achieve ripeness for the time of sale. Unnaturally ripened fruit is not as nutritionally dense as naturally ripened food.
- Conventional produce is almost always less nutritious than organic, sustainable produce. Nutrient-poor food leaves the body wanting, and promotes overeating to compensate for nutrient deficiencies.
- In the United States, several countries in Europe, and numerous countries around the world, there is widespread use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). GMO seeds are fundamentally new bio-technology. They are scarcely tested, and their long-term effects on the environment and human health are unknown. GMOs, legally qualified as substantially similar in the United States, do not produce similar plant phenotypes. When GMO plants cross-breed with natural plants, grotesque plant hybrids are produced. GMO have the potential to contaminate and overrun surrounding environments, and have done so already in many areas. They threaten current biodiversity. While GMOs are purported to be adventitious to humans by contributing the the world food supply, their genome’s are patented and owned by companies. These companies demand royalties for their use and are rapidly monopolizing the seed market. These business practices threaten freedoms of world food production. The leading rights-holder for GMO seeds is Monsanto, which is a chemical company owning the rights to at least 20 plant species, Roundup (the world’s leading herbicide), other agricultural chemical compounds, rBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone), and more. Monsanto owns and controls a large percentage of the entire industrial food system. In effect, because of Monsanto’s widespread ownership of the world’s leading agricultural inputs, they exert significant (and growing) control over world food production.
- Although most GMOs are banned in the European Union, because of GMO contamination, the European Commission permits up to 0.9% GMO content in certified organic products.
What Consumers Should Know About Conventional Meat, Eggs, and Dairy:
- Animals reared for eating are fed almost exclusively on non-organic cash crops, usually corn. The high levels of chemicals found in the feed concentrate in the tissue of the animal; the chemicals are then conveyed to humans when the flesh of these animals is eaten. A grain diet is particularly not suitable for cattle, which are ruminants and biologically designed to consume grass. Corn diets contribute heavily to the evolution of virulent strains of E.coli and other pathogens.
- Animals are reared in very crowded housing conditions, which offer little to no comfort. Ventilation is normally poor; the ground is normally completely covered in faeces, urine, hair, or feathers; animals are often kept in cages which do not permit the animal to engage in natural movements, such as turning around or wing-flapping. Housing conditions act as incubators for virulent pathogens.
- Because of crowded, fetid conditions, animals engage in behaviors demonstrative of anxiety, anger, and depression. Animals have a penchant for self-abuse, and the abuse of others (such as pecking, biting of tails, and fighting). In order to control these behaviors, many operations systematically cut off the tails, beaks, testicles, and horns of animals.
- Because of the crowded, fetid conditions, disease that affects one animal can easily spread to the entire group. In order to control these behaviors, high concentrations of antibiotics are added to the feed and administered to the animals or prevent sickness. This contributes directly the to evolution of dangerous, potentially-lethal, antibiotic-resistant pathogens.
- It is the industry standard in the United States to inject cattle and dairy animals with a potent growth hormone called rBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone) to increase milk and meat production. This hormone has been demonstrated to cause aberrations in the digestive track and tissues of its consumers, be identified as an alien substance in the immune system, and may contribute to cancer. This hormone causes fertility problems in dairy cattle, and infections of the mammary glands. Milk from these cows contains pus from infections, and concentrations of this hormone. Meat and dairy imported from the United States will almost certainly be produced with rBGH.
- Animals being corralled for slaughter are frequently subjected to electrocution and violence. Many animals are too ill to make the trip, and are abused egregiously until the moment of death.
- Animals are very quickly slaughtered in highly mechanized facilities. The speed of the system results in thousands of gallons of blood, urine, and faeces, covering work spaces and workers. Conveyor belts and processing machinery, when contaminated by one animal, can spread contamination to every subsequent animal processed. The industry addresses these problems not by correcting the system, but by adding a new high-tech solution, such as inundating meat in ammonia to kill bacteria. Factory workers frequently suffer infections from exposure to these substances.
- Conventional meat contains higher concentrations of chemicals and pathogens than organic meat.
- Waste products from concentrated animal feed lots contaminate neighborhoods and ecosystems in the area, resulting in untold levels of illness, destruction, and contamination of neighboring agricultural fields with virulent bacteria.