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Ivan Gaichuk
Professor Dursema
English 1010
8 August 2015
Organic Food vs. Conventional

Pesticides and genetic engineering are methods which are used today to yield more crops

worldwide. However, there are farms in the U.S. that still choose to grow food using original

methods (non-pesticide, without changing the genetic code). This food is called organic. It is true

that using pesticides and genetic engineering yields more crops as a result. However, statistics

prove that pesticides are harmful to the human body and to the environment (Wardlaw and Smith

540). Despite the increase in crop production, the use of pesticides should be reconsidered

because of their adverse effects on the human body. Organic means of farming should be widely

used throughout the country.

In 2002 the U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) introduced a seal to be displayed on

packaging that contains organic food (McEvoy). From then on consumers would have a choice

of whether to buy food and beverages with or without an organic seal. The label means that the

USDA has enforced a specific set of rules on food deemed organic. According to the U.S.

Department of Agriculture, organic crops are grown without the use of pesticides. Crops are

grown using natural bi-products such as manure and compost. Animals that are raised

organically are required to be free of any growth hormones or antibiotics and are to be fed

organic feed. Ranchers are required to allow access to outdoor pastures for grazing, farms and

ranches must receive an annual outside inspection by the USDA (McEvoy). In this way the U.S.

government can control the quality of organic food but the market of non-organic food still

prevails. Many American farmers grow crops using pesticides since it increases productivity,

reduces cost, and consequently, the price on the market.


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Farmers all over the world started to use pesticides in the late 1960s. With population

growth across the world the use of pesticides as well as genetic engineering seemed more and

more like a good idea because it would yield more food. The primary reason for using pesticides

is economic. The use of agricultural chemicals increases production and lowers cost of food, at

least in the short run. Also in the United States pests destroy nearly $20 billion of food crops

yearly (Wardlaw and Smith 541). Pesticides protect against pests and prevent rotting or decay of

fresh fruits and vegetables.

However, pesticides have had many harmful effects on the human body. Many of

todays pesticides cause cancer, immune suppression, and delayed child development. A statistic

from a study done in 2012 shows that 207 out of 364 children ages 2 through 7 had increased

levels of acrylamide, arsenic, dieldrin, DDE (a DDT metabolite) and dioxins. These chemicals

are all found in pesticides. These above the benchmark levels of chemicals came from eating a

regular diet of fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, apples, peppers, lettuce, strawberries, and

several others. In addition, more than 95 percent of preschool children exceeded a non-cancer

(the death of cells) risk level of acrylamide, a cooking byproduct often found in processed foods

like potato and tortilla chips (Herts-Picciotto).

Pesticides can also pose a danger to adults. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

estimates that 10,000 to 20,000 pesticide poisonings occur each year among some 2 million U.S.

agricultural workers. Groundskeepers, pet groomers, fumigators, and a variety of other

occupations are also at risk for exposure to pesticides including fungicides, herbicides,

insecticides, rodenticides, and sanitizers (Greene).

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) and the Environmental Protection

Agency are charged with ensuring that the residues of pesticide in food are below the amounts
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that pose a danger to human health. A newly proposed pesticide must first be rigorously tested

before it is approved for use. The process can take up to 10 years because the USDFA and the

EPA want to make sure the pesticide causes no adverse effects to people or the environment over

that period of time. When weighing whether to approve or cancel a pesticide, EPA considers

how much more it would cost the farmers to use an alternative pesticide or process and whether

cancellation would decrease productivity (Wardlaw and Smith 542).

Dr. Paul Benham of Primrose Organic Centre in Wales has found an alternative to using

pesticides and genetic engineering. Being well educated in the area of agriculture, he first started

his production of food using conventional methods. He then became disappointed with

exploitative conventional agriculture and began to look for a way to increase quality and

productivity of crops using other means. After studying Ecology and Animal Behavior and

gaining knowledge of natural ecosystems, he became convinced that organic farming is a

solution for producing high quality crop and preserving environment (Henley).

In 2006 Bill Liebhardt, an agricultural scientist from the University of California-Davis

published specific data that presented organic yield to be almost the same as conventional yield

with a difference of only 6% when it comes to growing corn and soybean and 3% difference in

growing wheat to the favor of conventional approach (Halweil).

Despite the USDA efforts to keep standards of agriculture high the above studies show

that this is not always possible. People, especially children are exposed to higher levels of

chemicals as a result of using pesticides. The solution to this problem lies in the area of

promoting natural organic agriculture. This approach was proven by Dr. Benham and Bill

Liebhardts research data. The future is for organic farming because it allows for a high quality

crop, prevention of illness, and the preservation of the environment.


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Works Cited

Greene, Ronnie. Farmworkers Plagued by Pesticides, Red Tape. Center for Public Integrity.

Center for Public Integrity, 25 June 2012. Web. 27 July 2015.

Halweil, Brian. Can Organic Farming Feed Us All? Worldwatch Institute 19.3 (2006) : n. pag.

Web. 8 Aug. 2015.

Henley, Jon. Organic Fruits and Veg Made Easy. The Guardian. Guardian News and Media,

20 July 2011. Web. 27 July 2015.

Herts-Picciotto, Irva. Study finds high exposure to food-borne toxins. UC Davis Health

System. The Regents of the University of California, 13 Nov. 2012. Web. 27 July 2015.

McEvoy, Miles. Organic 101: What the USDA Organic Label Means. United States

Department of Agriculture. U.S. Department of Agriculture, 22 March 2012. Web. 27

July 2015.

Wardlaw, Gordon, and Anne Smith. Contemporary Nutrition A Functional Approach. New

York: Mc-Graw-Hill, 2009. Print.