Posts Tagged ‘Organic’

GMO apples that never brown could hit stores soon

January 22, 2017

Story highlights

  • The USDA approved the GMO apples nearly two years ago
  • Non-browning apples will only be available in Midwest stores for now, company says

(CNN)For a select few apple lovers in the US, a Golden Delicious slice will no longer turn brown as the first genetically modified apples are expected to go on sale early next month.

A small amount of Arctic brand sliced and packaged Golden Delicious apples, produced by Okanagan Specialty Fruits in British Columbia, Canada, will hit the shelves of 10 stores in the Midwest in February and March, Neal Carter, the company’s founder and president, told the agricultural news website Capital Press. Arctic’s website lists the apples as being available early this year in some test markets.
Carter said Midwestern stores were the first choice because they seemed like a good fit demographically and in size. He wouldn’t name the stores, stating it’s up to retailers to announce that they’ll be selling the non-browning apples.
“We’re very optimistic with respect to this product because people love it at trade shows,” he said earlier this month. “It’s a great product and the eating quality is excellent.”
Along with not turning brown, the apples should also be crispier in texture — possibly winning over some picky eaters.
Nearly two years ago, the US Department of Agriculture approved the US’s first genetically modified apples.
The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service granted its approval based on “a final plant pest risk assessment that finds the GE (genetically engineered) apples are unlikely to pose a plant pest risk to agriculture and other plants in the United States … [and] deregulation is not likely to have a significant impact on the human environment,” as stated in their report.
The Food and Drug Administration is not required to approve genetically engineered crops for consumption. Most companies engage in a voluntary safety review process with the FDA, and Okanagan did that.
The US Apple Association was wary of Arctic’s apple after the USDA approval, but the group has since taken a more neutral stance.
“US Apple supports consumer choice in the apples and apple products they select. Consumers will be able to decide whether to try the new, “non-browning” apples, and ultimately, the marketplace will determine whether there is a demand for them,” state the association on their website.

Browning is natural, but…

There’s nothing technically wrong with an apple that browns.
It all comes down to oxygen being introduced into plant tissue when an apple is sliced, bruised or bitten.
The US Apple association explains: “The degree to which an apple browns depends upon that variety’s natural levels of polyphenoloxydase (PPL) and Vitamin C (ascorbic acid). The lower the level of PPL, the less the variety will brown.
But Okanagan Specialty Fruits describes the process a bit differently: “Polyphenol oxidase (PPO) found in one part of the cell mixes with polyphenolics found in another part of the cell. (PPO is a plant enzyme. Polyphenolics are one of the many types of chemical substrate that serve various purposes, including supplying apples with their aroma and flavor.) When PPO and polyphenolics mix, brown-toned melanin is left behind,” they state on their website.
When brown, an apple isn’t necessarily rotten, but Okanagan claim the benefits of non-browning apples go beyond the visual appeal and a reduction in waste. The company says stores or producers often use expensive chemicals to delay the browning of apples and many shoppers frown at the idea of chemicals or pesticides on their produce.
The consensus among scientists and nutritionists is that GMOs are safe, but some consumers are still turned off by GMO labels.
Though the apples are only being trialed in the Midwest, the company have faith they will soon become a welcome option elsewhere.

Chinese government admits one-fifth of farm lands heavily contaminated with toxic heavy metals like cadmium, arsenic and lead

December 26, 2016

For the past few months, Natural News has been warning the world about toxic heavy metals found in foods, superfoods and dietary supplements grown in China. Our Natural News Forensic Food Lab has produced breakthrough results showing, for example, that rice protein imported from China is significantly contaminated with lead, cadmium and tungsten — all industrial heavy metals.

Some greed-driven promoters of rice protein initially insisted all these heavy metals were “naturally occurring,” but now the Chinese government has gone on the record confirming the truth: China’s farm lands are heavily contaminated with toxic heavy metals, and this has now been scientifically documented and proven by Chinese researchers and publicly released by Chinese authorities.

19.4% of China’s farm lands contaminated with toxic heavy metals

According to this statement by the Ministry of Environmental Protection in China, 19.4% of the nation’s arable land has been heavily contaminated by toxic heavy metals.

82.8% of the contaminants found on farms are “inorganic” contaminants which include cadmium, mercury, arsenic, copper and lead — all toxic heavy metals we’ve been investigating in foods and superfoods at the Natural News Forensic Food Labs.

This confirms my detailed video explanation where I destroy the absurd “naturally occurring” argument being pushed by importers of contaminated foods and superfoods from China. Click here to watch the video now.

The false argument being made by heavy metals denialists was that when heavy metals are released by industrial smoke stacks, they begin as “pollutants,” but after they settle on farms, they become “natural.” Therefore, the deniers claimed, lead and cadmium in rice protein was “naturally occurring.”

I have personally conducted the scientific research to document cadmium levels at over 2.5 ppm in certified organic rice protein products sold in the USA (and imported from China) as “certified organic.” These levels have been independently confirmed by rice protein manufacturers. None of the lab results published at Natural News have ever been disputed. In fact, they have been confirmed by numerous third-party laboratories.

Now we know why: “China released a report April 17 disclosing that 16.1 percent of the country’s soil and nearly 20 percent of its arable land has been contaminated, largely by heavy metals such as cadmium, nickel and arsenic. This is the price the country is paying for its meteoric rise over the last 35 years, with little thought given to protecting the environment,” reports the Japan Times (1).

“The latest report suggests that the situation has greatly worsened since the 2006 report, with twice the amount of arable land now being contaminated… Clearly much of China’s soil is contaminated and heavy metals are entering the food chain, with dire consequences for consumers,” Japan Times added.

The BBC chimes in with the headline, “Report: One fifth of China’s soil contaminated.” (2)

Americans being poisoned by toxic heavy metals imported from China

To my knowledge, no one in America other than Natural News is currently sounding the alarm on this issue of heavy metals in organic superfoods and natural products. There are thousands of certified organic proteins, superfoods, herbal supplements and other products being imported into the United States and sold as “organic” even though they are heavily contaminated with toxic heavy metals.

In my own ICP-MS laboratory, I’m seeing very high levels of lead and cadmium in all sorts of products imported from China, including rice protein and Ginkgo Biloba herbal supplements.

According to the Chinese government, 82.8% of the non-organic produce grown in China exceeds the government’s heavy metals limits. (You have to read the Chinese announcement to get this.)

That means four out of five fruits and vegetables grown in China are so toxic that they’re sold in violation of the government’s own limits!

These are the same soils in which “organic” herbs, superfoods and dietary supplements are grown before they are imported into the USA. And yet herbs, proteins and “superfoods” produced in China can be imported into the USA regardless of their heavy metals content. That’s because neither the FDA nor the USDA has any limits whatsoever on heavy metals contamination of foods. So products that are heavily contaminated with industrial heavy metals are imported into the USA every single day and sold on the shelves of health food retailers like Whole Foods.

Alarming levels of cadmium and lead found in products purchased at Whole Foods earlier this week

As part of my own scientific testing of heavy metals contaminants in the food supply, I purchased rice protein products from Whole Foods in Austin Texas on 4/28. Here are just the highlights of what I found (more details coming on this story in the next two weeks with full lab results):

• “Raw” Protein (Vanilla) at over .3 ppm lead and nearly 2.0 ppm cadmium

• “Truganic” Protein at over .3 ppm lead and nearly 1.8 ppm cadmium

• Grass superfood powder at over .4 ppm lead and over .8 ppm cadmium

• Brown rice protein powder at over .3 ppm lead and over 1 ppm cadmium

I’ve also found Ginkgo Biloba herbs grown in China and sold in the USA to contain over 5.0 ppm lead. (The Whole Foods brand of ginkgo capsules, however, turns out to be very clean with less than .04 ppm lead.)

The debate is over: Foods, superfoods, herbs and organics from China are heavily contaminated with toxic heavy metals

There is no longer any debate on this issue of heavy metals in products imported from China. The Chinese government has now publicly admitted one-fifth of its farm lands are heavily contaminated with toxic heavy metals.

Even the BBC has covered the story, reporting (2):

About 82.8% of the polluted land was contaminated by inorganic materials, with levels noticeably higher than the previous survey between 1986 and 1990… The report had previously been classified as a state secret because of its sensitivity. “Due to long periods of extensive industrial development and high pollutant emissions, some regions have suffered deteriorating land quality and serious soil pollution.”

That this information even came out was nothing short of a political miracle in China. As the New Straits Times is now reporting (3):

Premier Li Keqiang signed a directive ordering officials not to use “state secrets” as an excuse to avoid disclosing information that should be public knowledge. The release of the soil contamination report appears to be a direct result of this directive.

Awareness is rapidly spreading on this issue across the USA, too. Natural News has spearheaded this effort and has already worked with leading rice protein manufacturers to reach agreement on voluntary heavy metals limits for their products.

Companies like Jarrow Formulas, however, have so far refused to agree to those limits. The latest batch of Jarrow Formulas Brown Rice Protein, Lot# 50696014, shows lead at .312 ppm and cadmium at 1.015 ppm with the heavy metal tungsten also detected at significant levels.

Jarrow Formulas, like nearly every other rice protein manufacturer, is right now selling products that contain toxic, cancer-causing heavy metals contaminants. This fact is irrefutable. The Chinese government’s admission that its farm lands are widely contaminated with toxic heavy metals explains where much of this is coming from.

Natural products retailers remain in a state of total denial

The natural products industry, encompassing many independent online retailers as well as brick-and-mortar stores, remains in a state of total denial about the toxic heavy metals they are selling to their customers.

To my knowledge, not one retailer has yet pulled any of these contaminated products off their shelves. Where there’s money to be made by moving products contaminated with heavy metals, there’s one thing you can count on from natural products retailers: SILENCE.

Fearful of a wave of refunds (or even class action lawsuits), everyone’s lips are sealed on this hidden epidemic of heavy metals poisoning. And through this silence, retailers continue to sell contaminated products containing alarming concentrations of known poisons without alerting their customers to the facts.

It seems that every retailer currently selling rice protein in the USA is, knowingly or unknowingly, complicit in this cover-up. The toxic metals they are selling are fully known to cause kidney damage, heart disease, skin disorders, cancer, bone disorders and brain disorders. The lead found in these products is widely known to damage developing brains and lower IQs. Virtually no one in the industry seems to think their customers should be alerted to this fact. To me, that’s disgusting and grossly immoral.

Right now, I believe that every retailer of contaminated products from China has an ethical and social obligation to stop selling contaminated products and warn their customers about products which are contaminated.

Continued denial of this industry-wide problem is highly unethical and possibly even legally negligent. Those who continue selling these heavily contaminated products should be heavily pressured by the health-conscious community to clean up their act!

How the cover-up continues

Sadly, there is no law in the USA requiring herbs, supplements, proteins or other products be labeled with their country of origin.

Manufacturers routinely import raw materials from China, then label them with amazing-sounding descriptions that often mislead consumers.

Case in point: Take the Warrior Food product from Warrior Force, a company I really admire for their positive intentions, by the way. They are also working hard on improving their formula and I expect they will have substantially cleaner product available soon. But their current label on their current product is simply misleading, claiming the product is “NON-TOXIC” and “100% TruGanic” with the claim that it is “a purist, hard-core, quality standard significantly beyond Organic standards, with much more stringent criteria and actual verification via testing that Organic does not have.”

Yet when I tested Warrior Food Lot #31105010, purchased from Whole Foods on 4/28/2014, I found this product to contain:

• .3 ppm lead
• 1.791 ppm cadmium
• Substantial levels of tungsten

On the good news side, the great people at Warrior Force are working hard on new formulations and I expect to see these numbers drastically improve in the near future. Warrior Force has enthusiastically signed on with our voluntary heavy metals limits, and I fully expect they will be one of the first manufacturers to introduce a low-metals rice protein into the marketplace.

Yet, at the same time, I have to honestly and authentically ask how could these levels of contaminants exist in their product in the first place if they have “a purist, hard-core, quality standard significantly beyond Organic standards, with much more stringent criteria and actual verification via testing” as they claim?

It doesn’t add up. Somewhere along the line, someone made a decision that these levels of lead and cadmium were okay for customers to eat. That’s a huge error and it strongly contradicts the stated philosophy of the company. This is NOT okay! If it’s so much better than organic, why does it still contain heavy metals at such levels?

If you bought products from China, take action now

There are all sorts of products you’ve probably been purchasing from China without knowing it. Rice protein is just one, but China also produces a huge percentage of the herbs, vegetable powders, grass powders and even many superfruits sold across the natural products industry. Most of the grass powders sold in the USA, for example, are actually grown in China. Many of the “bulk herbs” sold on and other retailers are also heavily contaminated with toxic heavy metals because they are imported from China.

For example, when I tested Ginkgo Biloba herbs grown in the USA, lead and cadmium levels were near zero. But when I tested Ginkgo imported from China, it showed an alarming 5 ppm of lead, a level that would raise alarm with anyone educated in food contamination issues.

The bottom line in all this? If you don’t want to poison yourself with toxic heavy metals from China, you need to immediately start taking these steps on the foods, proteins, supplements and herbs you consume:

STEP 1) Ask the manufacturer for the country of origin.

STEP 2) Ask the manufacturer for heavy metals lab results for YOUR lot number (printed on every bottle).

STEP 3) Reject retailers that continue to sell heavily contaminated products. Demand that retailers set quality control standards which encompass heavy metals contamination issues.

What levels are okay? A good starting place is the site I created, which offers a generous grading system for heavy metals concentrations. I personally reject all raw materials worse than grade “A.” Many rice proteins sold today are grade “B” which is entirely unacceptable given the huge quantities that people consume (serving sizes are typically around 23 grams).

Right now, just one scoop of contaminated rice protein can expose you to over 15 – 20 times the daily lead limit of Proposition 65 in California. That’s unacceptable. Rice protein companies need to be at grade “A” or better, in my view as a food science researcher.

The good news is that companies are rapidly moving in that direction, and I fully expect to see some cleaner rice proteins on store shelves by this August (and possibly even in July).

Until then, I strongly recommend you switch to some other protein. 365 brand Whey Protein Powder from Whole Foods contains almost zero lead or cadmium, and a brand called “Tera’s Whey” was super clean, clocking in at just .012 ppm lead and .078 ppm cadmium (with zero tungsten detected). These are about the best numbers you’ll ever find.

Life’s Basics Plant Protein Mix (from LifeTime) sold at Whole Foods (Lot #3793) was also remarkably clean for a plant-based protein, turning in lead number of just .023 ppb and cadmium of just .068 ppm. Both are extremely low — among the lowest you’ll find in plant protein.

I’ll be bringing you more official, detailed reports on all this in the coming weeks. Watch for many more explosive reports on heavy metals during the month of May.

See all lab results we’ve published so far at:

Sources for this article include:



Also see this report from China (PDF):…


December 14, 2016

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Your dinner may be lying to you

June 23, 2013

Making some packaged food taste good and getting you to buy it can involve a lot of tinkering and some shifty science. The result isn’t always pretty. We expose. 


“Convenient” can be code for belly bloat
Check the labels on your favorite packaged eats, such as soups and frozen dinners, and you’ll be shocked at how much salt is in there. Case in point: One package of ramen noodles has 1,820 milligrams of sodium—that’s 80 percent of what should be your daily limit of 2,300 mg. (On average, we consume almost 50 percent more than that each day.) Aside from making your jeans “shrink” a size overnight (thanks, water weight!), high-salt diets can be bad for your stomach and heart. Avoid OD’ing by buying snacks with less than 250 mg of sodium per serving and prepackaged meals with less than 600 mg.


“Diet” food is often just sugar by another name
When companies remove fat and calories from a food, they have to replace it with something to keep it from tasting like cardboard, and that something is frequently sugar—lots of it. The primary ingredients in many 100-calorie snack packs are white sugar, white flour and oils, said Judy Caplan, R.D., a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND). So, basically, empty calories. For between-meal snacks, opt for whole foods, like nuts or fruit.



Everything isn’t always better with bacon
To preserve those delicious pork slices, companies usually use nitrates or nitrites. When added to meat, these preservatives and other additives form compounds that some research suggests may be linked to cancer. Hot dogs, turkey and ham are often cured this way, too. Skip “uncured” varieties—processed meat contains naturally occurring nitrates anyway—and instead watch your intake. The ideal: less than 7 ounces per week.



The soy in your mock dog may be nothing like tofu
Fake-meat soy products can easily contain 40 or more ingredients, some of which don’t exactly sound mouthwatering: disodium guanylate, anyone? What those products often don’t contain: many of the health benefits of soy. That’s because the soy comes in isolate form, which means you’re getting the protein but none of soy’s fiber or antioxidants, said SELF contributing experts Stephanie Clarke, R.D., and Willow Jarosh, R.D. Their advice: If you want the benefits, eat whole soy foods, like tofu, edamame and miso.


If it’s been enriched, it wasn’t great in the first place
“The word enriched on a label means that a grain has been stripped of many of its nutrients, including fiber and B vitamins, and then a fraction of those nutrients were added back in,” said Andrea Giancoli, R.D., a spokeswoman for AND. Although enriched breads are a better option than regular (refined) white bread, the one word you want to see on the label is whole. Whole grains retain all their original good-for-you stuff—fiber, antioxidants, vitamins—which means they don’t need to be enriched to get a passing grade.


“Organic” may be a mirage
Simply because a product label says it’s all natural or organic doesn’t mean it’s healthy. But when you see these buzzwords on a package, you tend to think the product is better for you, says Giancoli. Many organic products don’t contain artificial substances, but they can have plenty of added sugars, refined grains and oils. Be sure to check labels on any food you’re buying. Organic or not, if it’s high in saturated fat, sugar or calories, give it a pass.

Organic industry clout grows with consumer demand

May 18, 2013

The organic food industry is gaining clout on Capitol Hill, prompted by rising consumer demand and its entry into traditional farm states. But that isn’t going over well with everyone in Congress.

Tensions between conventional and organic agriculture boiled over this week during a late-night House Agriculture Committee debate on a sweeping farm bill that has for decades propped up traditional crops and largely ignored organics.

When Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-Ore., a former organic farmer, offered an amendment to make it easier for organic companies to organize industrywide promotional campaigns, there was swift backlash from some farm-state Republicans, with one member saying he didn’t want to see the industry get a free ride and another complaining about organics’ “continued assault on agriculture.”

“That’s one of the things that has caught me and raises my concerns, is that industry’s lack of respect for traditional agriculture,” said Rep. Austin Scott, R-Ga., referring to some organic companies’ efforts to reduce the number of genetically modified crops in the marketplace.

At the same time, Scott acknowledged that he and his wife buy organic foods.

Growing consumer interest in organics has proved tough for some Republicans on the committee to ignore. Eight Republicans, most of them newer members of the committee, joined with all of the panel’s Democrats in supporting the amendment, which was adopted 29-17.

Rep. Vicky Hartzler, a Missouri Republican who owns a farm equipment business and a corn and soybean farm, said she supported the amendment not only because helping organics is good for agriculture but because many of her constituents eat organic foods.

“Organics are a niche market in agriculture with a growing market share, so it makes sense for me to allow farmers to invest some of their own funds to promote their products,” she said.

The amendment would allow the organic industry to organize and pay for a unified industry promotional campaign called a “checkoff” that is facilitated by the Agriculture Department but is no cost to the government. These promotional programs have traditionally been limited to individual commodities or crops, producing familiar campaigns like “Got Milk?” and “Beef: It’s What’s for Dinner.”

The amendment would not set up such a program for organics, but it would allow USDA to approve an organic promotional campaign if the industry decided it wanted one. Laura Batcha of the Organic Trade Association says one reason the industry would approve a campaign is that many organic producers are concerned that consumers don’t understand that products labeled “natural” aren’t necessarily organic, which requires certification.

The organic industry has exploded in the last decade, with $35 billion in sales and 10 percent growth just last year. There are more than 17,000 certified organic businesses in the country.

Producers of organic crops and conventional crops have long been at odds, as organic products have grabbed market share – more than 4 percent of food and beverage sales in 2011 – and the industry has advertised organic foods as healthier than other foods. Organic products are required to be certified by the USDA and are grown without pesticides and genetically modified ingredients, mainstays of traditional agriculture.

Government-managed promotional checkoff programs like the one that would be allowed under the amendment are required to be positive and not disparage other products, and some lawmakers seemed wary that such a campaign would be possible.

“How do I present organic pork without disparaging non-organic pork?” asked House Agriculture Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., who opposed the amendment.

Mike Conaway, R-Texas, took issue with part of the amendment that would allow the organic producers to opt out of other commodity campaigns, an option that isn’t given to conventional producers.

“Looks to me like they have a free ride on this thing,” Conaway said, in an at times angry exchange with Schrader.

Despite the rancor, the chances that the amendment will become law are good, as the Senate Agriculture Committee added the same amendment to its version of the farm bill.

Schrader told his colleagues that embracing organics is essential to appealing to consumers in a time when big farms are often demonized by popular culture. He said that many young people are coming back to farms because of nontraditional agriculture.

“American agriculture is under siege,” he said. “Urban folks do not understand where their food and fiber comes from. … The point here is to hopefully position American agriculture where we’re not always trying to catch up to what the American consumer wants.”

Arsenic Levels in Chicken Raise Health Concerns

May 16, 2013

Levels of inorganic arsenic found in samples of chicken may be responsible for a slight increase in cancer risk to consumers over their lifetimes, according to a study by researchers at John Hopkins University published this week.

That research comes on the heels of a lawsuit filed against the U.S. Food and Drug Administration two weeks ago by the Center for Food Safety and eight other government watchdog organizations which demands that the FDA respond to a three-year-old petition to disallow compounds containing arsenic from food animal feed.

The samples of chicken in the John Hopkins study were collected in 2010 and 2011, just before Pfizer, the manufacturer of 3-Nitro (also known as roxarsone), an antibiotic containing arsenic, suspended sales of the product in summer 2011.

Roxarsone had been given to feed animals to kill intestinal parasites and promote growth since the 1940s, though only recently did researchers find evidence that the harmless, organic arsenic in the drug could turn into carcinogenic, inorganic arsenic in meat. One other arsenic-containing drug, nitarsone, is still on the market.

In 2011, the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine concluded that the safe level of inorganic arsenic in chicken meat stood at 1 part per billion (ppb). The agency later revised that statement to say that any level of inorganic arsenic was concerning.

The John Hopkins study analyzed samples of conventionally raised chickens that were fed antibiotics, antibiotic-free chickens, and organically raised chickens. Meat from those chickens raised with antibiotics had more than twice the amount of inorganic arsenic (1.8 ppb) compared with the antibiotic-free (0.7 ppb) and organic (0.6 ppb) chickens.

Speaking to the New York Times, a spokeswoman for the National Chicken Council called those arsenic levels “very low” and noted that they reflected levels from before roxarsone was removed from the marketplace.

Researchers found roxarsone in 20 out of the 40 samples of antibiotic-raised chickens, 1 out of 13 of the antibiotic free samples, and none of the 25 organic samples. Meat from chickens given roxarsone was found to contain arsenic at 2.3 ppb, while meat from roxarsone-free chickens contained arsenic, on average, at 0.8 ppb.

That dosage of inorganic arsenic, the researchers determined, might result in an additional 3.7 cases of bladder and lung cancer for every 100,000 people eating chicken.

Though Pfizer voluntarily suspended roxarsone sales, the FDA has not banned the product for use in feed animals. The company told the Times that it had no plans to reintroduce the drug.

The coalition of watchdog groups led by the Center for Food Safety still wants FDA to place an outright ban on arsenic-based drugs.

“FDA could easily and immediately fix the problem, but instead puts its head in the sand,” said Paige Tomaselli, senior staff attorney with the Center for Food Safety in a press release. “We can only conclude the FDA is catering to the companies that continue to sell products containing arsenic that ends up in our food supply.”

In 2012, Maryland became the first state to ban arsenic-based drugs for feed animals.

The John Hopkins study on inorganic arsenic levels in chicken meat can be accessed here.

No testing procedures in place to assure organic produce is chemical-free

May 14, 2013

Organic produce is supposed to be free from synthetic chemicals and governed with strict guidelines.

But Team 10 found no established testing procedures are in place.

“USDA Certified” is the label to look for when spending extra money on organic produce. And that price tag can be 20 percent to 30 percent higher than conventionally grown produce.

Consequently, organics have grown into a multi-billion dollar industry.

Organic Foods Production Act of 1990

Organics are overseen by the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990.

It required the United States Department of Agriculture to set up an organics program to oversee processing, distribution and certification. It’s called the National Organic Program.

The program in turn, oversees third party certifiers around the world who give products the USDA Certified stamp of approval. According to the USDA, there are 85 certifying agents who handle about 30,000 operating farms.

The law also requires a strict examination of “residue testing” for pesticides.

But now, 22 years after the law was enacted, those tests are not happening.

Miles McEvoy heads the organics program for the USDA.

The Office of the Inspector General did an audit of the program in 2010. The report states that the organics program did not establish testing procedures and the certifying agents were not preforming periodic residue testing as required by law.

“Congress indicated that certifiers should be doing periodic residue testing and that had never been established,” said McEvoy.

Our Testing

Team 10 joined with 10 of our sister stations across the country and went to various stores to purchase imported organic produce.

We bought a wide variety with each station buying different products.

Each of the samples from across the country was shipped overnight to the same certified lab in California.

Wil Sumner headed the testing project. He has been a chemist for more than 35 years. Today, he runs his own company.

“By definition, organic does not mean chemical-free. It just means it is grown without the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers,” said Sumner. “It doesn’t mean that they are not toxic.”

How Pumping Antibiotics into Animals Could Cause Global Health Crisis

April 14, 2013

China is the world’s largest producer and consumer of antibiotics, and like many other nations around the world, it does almost nothing to monitor the powerful medicine’s usage or impact on the environment. A study published in the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that China’s unchecked use of antibiotics in animal production is giving rise to antibiotic resistant genes (ARGs) that pose a potential worldwide human health risk.

The study, carried out by a team of researchers from Michigan State University and the Chinese Academy of the Sciences, took place on Chinese commercial pig farms. What they found is astounding: 149 unique antibiotic resistant genes, or ARGs, some at levels 192 to 28,000 times higher than the control samples. Although China’s rampant antibiotic consumption (they use four times as much as the USA) makes it an easy target, it’s not the only place where this cultivation of ARGs is taking place.

“Our research took place in China, but it reflects what’s happening in many places around the world,” said James Tiedje, a professor of microbiology and molecular genetics and of plant, soil and microbial sciences at Michigan State University. “The World Organization for Animal Health and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have been advocating for improved regulation of veterinary antibiotic use because those genes don’t stay local.”

Since animals aren’t equipped to absorb the enormous number of antibiotics pumped into their systems, much of it ends up in manure—an estimated 700 million tons annually from China alone. The manure is then spread as fertilizer, sold as compost, or ends up downstream in rivers or groundwater, taking ARGs with them. These dangerous genes can also be spread via international trade, immigration and recreational travel.

In some cases, ARGs become highly mobile, meaning they can be transferred to other bacteria that can cause illness in humans. This is a big concern because the infections they cause can’t be treated with antibiotics. Because of this cycle, ARGs pose a potential global risk to human health and should be classified as pollutants, says Tiedje.

“It is urgent that we protect the effectiveness of our current antibiotics because discovering new ones is extremely difficult,” says researcher Yong-Guan Zhu of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Organic Methods Hold Water

April 11, 2013

The Rodale Institute celebrates the success of its 30-year Farming Systems Trial.

By Amanda Kimble Evans

 When rain gets scarce, we turn a tap, and water flows readily from hoses and sprinklers in yards across the nation, making it easy for us to take the resource for granted. But with climatologists predicting weather extremes in all corners of the globe in the next century, wise water use will become even more critical for all American gardeners and farmers. Hardiness zones have already changed in just the past 20 years; warm-region growing conditions are moving farther and farther north. And drier conditions are racing north, as well. Drought already costs U.S. citizens $6 billion to $8 billion a year on average, and according to a study from the National Center for Atmospheric Research, we could face extreme drought within just 30 years.

This could mean devastating crop failures, water shortages, and widespread water restrictions. With a warmer, drier environment on the horizon, turning on the hose or sprinkler to quench a thirsty garden might not be an option.

In response to the changing climate, the big three chemical-producing companies—DuPont, Monsanto, and Syngenta—are in a heated race to be the first to release a drought-tolerant variety of corn. Both genetically modified and standard-bred hybrids are in the works. They may claim feeding an ever-expanding world population as their altruistic motivation, but making millions from drought-stricken farmers makes for a lucrative incentive: Feeding the bottom line is any public corporation’s duty.

While drought-tolerant varieties are a valuable piece of the puzzle, another solution already exists—one that farmers and gardeners can practice immediately, without paying for specialized seeds. And it’s a solution that has scientific research to back it.

The Rodale Institute’s Farming Systems Trial (FST) has been tracking the performance of organically grown grain crops (such as corn and soybeans) and conventional, synthetic-chemical-reliant grain crops for the past 30 years. As America’s longest-running side-by-side comparison of these farming systems, the FST has revealed that crops grown organically are truly healthier and hardier in the long run, and better able to cope with weather extremes. Organic fields in the FST produce just as much as the chemical-reliant fields, despite claims that organic farming uses more resources to produce less food. But it is the performance of the organic fields during drought years that is truly amazing.

In four out of five drought years, the organically grown corn produced significantly more than the conventionally grown corn. The organic corn of the FST was even more successful under drought conditions than the drought-tolerant seed varieties were in the industry trials. The Rodale Institute’s organically managed fields produced between 28.4 percent and 33.7 percent more corn than conventionally managed fields under drought conditions.

Monsanto boasted that its genetically modified drought-tolerant corn was “one of our most significant R&D milestones,” producing between 6.7 percent and 13.4 percent more under drought conditions than other corn varieties. DuPont touts hybrids that produce 5 percent more on average, and Syngenta, which is leading the pack, has managed to produce 15 percent more with its drought-tolerant seeds.

So why does the FST’s organic crop outperform the chemical crop? “The current toxic-chemical approach to growing our food destroys the life of the soil with pesticides, herbicides, and high levels of inorganic fertilizers,” says Elaine Ingham, chief scientist at the Rodale Institute. “They are destroying the support system, developed by nature over the last 4 billion years, that grows healthy plants.”

That natural support system of organic practice is what makes those crops more drought-tolerant. Fertile soil, rich in organic matter and microbes, creates a more stable environment for plants. Rather than crop failure in times of stress, the organically cultivated plants can rely on the soil to provide what the weather has not.

“The organic matter in soil acts like a sponge, providing water reserves to plants during drought periods and preventing water from running off the soil surface in times of heavy rains,” says Rita Seidel, agroecologist and FST project leader at the Rodale Institute. “This organic matter has significantly increased in the FST organic fields and is actually diminishing in the conventional fields.”

Even in times of severe water shortage, not only can organic fields produce a more successful crop, but they continue to contribute to our drinking water reserves. In the FST, the organic fields recharged groundwater at rates 15 to 20 percent higher than the conventional fields.

Whether you are cultivating 40 acres or 40 square feet, compost, mulches, and cover crops create a well-balanced, fertile soil that can absorb more water, which buffers plants from drought stress. And avoiding toxic herbicides and pesticides and synthetic fertilizers keeps the community of soil microbes actively processing organic matter.

Thirty years of research proves that organic farming and gardening grows food and grows it well even during extreme weather conditions. Good news, for in the face of a warmer, drier future, the more we can rely on our soil rather than our hoses, the better off we’ll be.