Friday, August 31, 2018

The Effects of Pesticides in Food

Pesticides, which are any substance intended to prevent or destroy pests, are used to protect food from bacteria, weeds, mold, insects, and rodents. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, pesticides can be harmful to people, animals or the environment because they are designed to kill or harm living organisms. Because of this, pesticide residue on the foods you eat can have an effect on your health. Though the government regulates pesticide use, residues are still found in our food supply.

Learning Problem:
 Children who are frequently exposed to a small number of organophosphates, a pesticide found on commercially grown fruit and vegetables, are more likely to have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder than children who have been exposed less often. Exposure to these pesticides has also been linked to behavior and learning problems in children.

Nervous system:
Organophosphates have also been shown to affect the nervous system. According to the Department of Natural Resources and Environment, signs of an affected nervous system include excess salivation, stomach pain, vomiting, constipation, and diarrhea. The most pesticides are found on celery, peaches, berries, apples, peppers, greens, grapes and potatoes. Eating these commercially grown foods more frequently might increase exposure.

Breast Cancer:
According to Environmental Health Perspectives, a journal published by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, growing evidence shows that pesticides found in commercially grown food can be linked to some cases of breast cancer. The risk increases combined with other factors, including lifestyle, diet, and genes.

 Weakened Immune System:

According to the Global Healing Centre, several studies have shown that pesticides alter the immune system in animals and make them more susceptible to disease. Pesticides have been found to reduce the numbers of white blood cells and disease-fighting lymphocytes, making their bodies unable to kill bacteria and viruses. According to the GHC, they also affect the development of the spleen and thymus and spleen, two immune organs. However, studies on humans have been inconclusive.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Modern Animal Farming

The competition to produce inexpensive meat, eggs, and dairy products has led animal agribusiness to treat animals as objects and commodities. The worldwide trend is to replace small family farms with “factory farms”-large warehouses where animals are confined in crowded cages or restrictive pens.

Chickens Raised for Meat:

Virtually all birds raised for food are factory farmed. Inside the densely populated sheds, vast amounts of waste accumulate. The resulting ammonia levels commonly cause painful burns to the birds’ skin, eyes, and respiratory tracts.
Today’s broiler reaches market, weight in about one third of the time it took the traditional broiler. This rapid growth rate has been accompanied by an increasingly high incidence of conditions that cause suffering, such as ascites and painful skeletal deformities. According to Professor John Webster of the University of Bristol’s School of Veterinary Science, “Broilers are the only livestock that are in chronic pain for the last 20% of their lives.” In order to avoid problems of reproduction and lameness associated with obesity, broilers used for breeding are severely feed restricted.

Egg-Laying Hens:

Packed in cages (usually less than half a square foot of floor space per bird), hens can become immobilized and die of asphyxiation or dehydration. Decomposing corpses are found in cages with live birds. To cut losses from birds pecking each other, farmers remove a third to a half of the beak from egg-laying hens, breeding chickens, and most turkeys and ducks. Without pain relief, the beak is partially amputated with a heated blade; or the end is damaged with a laser, infrared beam, or powerful electric spark and sloughs off days later. The birds suffer severe pain for weeks. Some, unable to eat afterwards, starve.
Each week, hundreds of thousands of laying hens die on farms. Most endure one to two years of battery-cage confinement before they’re disposed of as “spent hens.” By the time their egg production declines, the birds’ skeletons are so fragile that many suffer broken bones as they’re removed from the cages. Male chicks, of no economic value to the egg industry, are typically macerated (ground up alive) or gassed. In some cases, they are simply thrown into garbage bags alive, as depicted in the picture below of chicks dead and dying in a dumpster behind a hatchery. 


Dairy Cows:                                                                                                                    

For many people, dairy farming conjures up images of small herds of cows leisurely grazing on open pastures. Although scenes like this still exist in the world, most milk is produced by cows raised in intensive production systems. Some cows are housed indoors year-round, and lactating cows are often kept restrained in tie stalls or stanchions.
Although they don’t reach mature size until at least 4 years old, dairy cows first give birth at about 2 years of age and are usually bred again. It is unprofitable to keep dairy cows alive once their milk production declines. Each year, approximately one quarter of the cows who survive the farms are sent to slaughter, most often due to reproductive problems or mastitis.  Cows can live more than 20 years, however they’re usually slaughtered and used to produce ground beef at about 5 years of age, after roughly 2.5 lactation.



The fastest growing food-producing sector is aquaculture; one of two fish eaten is now raised on a farm rather than caught in the wild. As with other forms of animal agriculture, the practices employed by fish farmers are designed to increase profitability but can reduce the well-being of the fish. Welfare concerns include: poor water quality, aggression, injuries, and disease associated with inappropriate stocking densities; health problems due to selection for fast growth; handling and removal from water during routine husbandry procedures; food deprivation during disease treatment and before harvest; and pain during slaughter.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Flavr Savr Tomatoes

In the world of rapidly progressing agricultural technology, genetically modified foods are the subject of many debates. Tomatoes were the first commercially produced genetically modified, or GM, food. They sparked differing views about the new technology and initiated the broadening and continuing political, economic and health-related controversy about subsequently developed GM foods.
Flavr Savr tomatoes were introduced to consumers by Calgene in 1994 after receiving the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's approval with the distinction of generally recognized as safe, or GRAS. For GRAS status, a substance must have published, peer-reviewed scientific studies to support its safety status. At the Alliance for Bio-Integrity website, published internal documents between an FDA compliance officer and the FDA biotechnology coordinator in 1992 illustrate how some FDA scientists questioned the wide-reaching new policy that allows GM foods to be approved by the companies that developed them. Risk factors were not addressed in full. Safety evaluations and labelling were not required for GM tomatoes, and companies are allowed to release new GM foods with no public announcement or identification of the product as being GM.

Flavr Savr tomatoes were created by introducing genetic material that would reverse the natural softening of the fruit. Tomatoes produce an enzyme called polygalacturonase, or PG, as they ripen. It breaks down the cell walls as the fruit ripens, causing the tomato to soften and decay. Genetic material was manipulated to prevent the production of PG. The genes were then cloned and inserted into cells to create Flavr Savr tomato plants. After an initial peak in popularity in GM tomato paste and tomato products, Flavr Savr tomatoes lost economic viability for commercial production, and consumers began to avoid them. They have not been commercially produced since 1997.
Another company, DNA Plant Technology, developed another GM tomato that was not economically successful. The company combined genes from an Arctic flounder with tomato DNA in an attempt to create cold-hardy tomato plants. The project was abandoned and the so-called fish tomatoes were never marketed. The controversial transgenic GM processes use genes from one species to be inserted into another species, such as fish genes into tomatoes, creating mutated, damaged DNA and interrupted unnatural DNA sequences.

Much of the controversy over the safety of genetically modifying foods is because of the process itself. Manipulated genetic material is either “shot” into cells using a “gene gun,” or it is introduced into the cells by invasive bacteria that carry the new genetic material and deposit it in the cells. Both methods are unpredictable; they damage the cells, and uncontrollable mutations occur.

Monday, August 13, 2018


Plastic is attacked from all directions as being a danger to the environment. There is no week without articles in newspapers and magazines or documentaries on TV against plastics as a threat to mankind, sea, planet and our children.
The use of Agri- plastic helps in increase in production with greater quality and helps in reduction in consumption of valuable resources (water, pesticides, fertilizers, energy). Plastics retain carbon dioxide and warm the soil, preserving humidity and reducing the leaching of pesticides and fertilizers. Agri- plastic protects plants, roots, and soil structure. This is the contribution of Agri-plastics to an Intensive Ecological Agriculture necessary to feed the growing human population. Without Agri- plastic, 60% of fruit, vegetable and dairy production would be endangered.

Impacts of Agri- plastic on fruit and vegetable production are:
  •          Allowing better control of climatic conditions for the root systems, vegetable leaves and fruit, photosynthesis, and temperature.
  •         Encouraging the mulching effect, capturing CO2, heating the soil and preserving soil humidity.
  •          Resistance to climatic change, protection against bad weather (rain, hail, sun...)
  •        Increasing production by enlarging the harvesting calendar, improving the yield by square meter, and the dried material content, allowing precocity.
  •         Improving production quality with a more regular plant growth, and a reduction in rot and waste.
  •          Limiting the “splash” effect from rain conducive to the proliferation of fungus at the foot of plants.
  •         Increasing overall production by the transferor production from open field to greenhouses and the increasing production per square meter, plastics liberate cultivation surfaces for other crops

In most of the countries, for many crops, production is no longer done without Agri- plastic. Some crops have disappeared from open field to be produced only under greenhouses. In some regions (Middle East, Africa...), production is simply not possible without Agri- plastic. If growers couldn’t use Agri- plastic anymore, 75% of the production would collapse for most fruit and vegetable production. But Agri- plastic is not only influential for horticulture, fruit, and vegetables.