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Thread: Residual Pesticides and healthy nutrition.

  1. #1 Residual Pesticides and healthy nutrition. 
    The Enchanter westwind's Avatar
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    Have always had a concern about the food we have available for consumption. Have always... 60 years. When I lived in the Sunraysia area of Australia in the 1940's spraying of grapevines, then of the produce( grapes, read here raisons, currents, ), was in its infancy, but nevertheless was carried out at the whim of the grower. This need to ensure controllable cropping ie; goods suitable for marketing, is now commonplace throughout the food industry. A little bit of residual chemical here, a little bit there, a little bit everywhere. And of course preservatives. Cold Storage, you see. This Thread would have been posted before, before my time, and no doubt got a good workout. But here is my punchline. Face it. there is no pure food anymore. Genetically modified dietery food will be the order of the day. No wonder folk like to catch pristine fish while there is still time. In the wild I mean. We are being conditioned and programmed to accept the new order of mass supply to satisfy mass need. Lets compare the health of that African Tribal Nation who drink the milk of their goats and camels. Some milk is mixed with blood bled from the camels. Compare their health with the diet of New Yorkers. Over the last 40 years. Get my drift?. westwind.


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  3. #2  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope skeptic's Avatar
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    No problem with our health. Human health and longevity has been on the increase for a long time now. Lifespan more than doubled in the 20th century, and is still increasing. African tribal natives eating blood and milk live, on average, much shorter lives than westerners.

    Pesticides in the 1940's and 1950's were often quite toxic. Such things as arsenic and DDT were commonplace. Today they are gone. Modern pesticides are low in mammalian toxicity, non bioaccumulative, and fully biodegradable. The level of pesticide residues are regularly tested on samples of food by various government food safety agencies. Here in New Zealand, I know a couple of the NZFSA scientists who do this. Half of all samples show no pesticide at detectable levels, and the rest show levels that are too low to be of concern. Any time a pesticide residue even begins to approach a level of concern, the testers raise merry hell!

    The only factors in food of serious health concern are saturated fats, transfats, sugars, salt, and processed starch. If you concentrate on them, and ignore the rest, you will not go far wrong, health-wise.


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  4. #3  
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    I was chastised by an older generation the other day for neglecting to wash grapes. Apparently one must always wash grapes because farmers spray them - common knowledge since at least the 1950s.

    I'm sure the grapes I buy have been washed and rewashed by the time they reach my shopping basket. Regardless (and thanks Skeptic for the facts) I will ritually wash the grapes in presence of elders.
    A pong by any other name is still a pong. -williampinn
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  5. #4  
    The Enchanter westwind's Avatar
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    Dear Pong. Yep, wash the grapes. Watch out for produce that has been kept in cold storage under fumigation conditions. ie'kiwi fruit. ( Australian storage ). It is not so much the fumigation as to the person delegated to fumiigate. Some are very heavy handed. Another problem with food in storage under these conditions is in the process of Distribution. This pallet? that pallet? How long has that pallet been in the corner? Once food gets into the retail storage conditions ie ( fruit markets in the Cities ), proper control and inspection does not always occur. westwind.
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  6. #5  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope skeptic's Avatar
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    About two years ago, the British Food standards Agency reversed their recommendation on washing fruit and vegetables, and said "do not wash". Their reason is the fact that pesticide residues are normally pretty much zero by the time we get them.

    Having said that, let me add my personal recommendation. By all means wash. My reason is different. There are always a lot of people in supermarkets and greengrocers who handle the food. Some of those arseholes are those who go to the toilet and do a number two, and fail to wash their hands. So yes, wash your fruit and vege.
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  7. #6  
    Time Lord
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    If my constitution is so weak to suffer from an unwashed grape, please kill me now before I pass these genes to more offspring.
    A pong by any other name is still a pong. -williampinn
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  8. #7  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope skeptic's Avatar
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    Pong

    Eating unwashed fruit is unlikely to cause you any harm.

    There is, however, a slight risk that someone touching that fruit who had 'unhygienic' habits might pass on a virus that causes gastroenteritis, such as norovirus. Not fatal, but not very nice either.

    Personally I wash or peel fruit before eating.
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  9. #8  
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    The pesticide and herbicide residue standards on American produce (as well as the rat piss allowed, etc) is predicated on a "standard serving" to an adult.

    If you like something that most people don't eat much of (my parents both ate oranges like apples - peel and all. The FDA does not anticipate this kind of behavior), or if you are small (especially, a child or fetus), more concern is warranted. The FDA and EPA also makes the occasional odd assumption, such as that certain food items are washed with soap and water by consumers.

    The idea that modern anti-something food chemicals (fungicides are often overlooked) are all biodegraded and benign and washed off and so forth, as Skeptic repeats, is folly. The buildup of various chemicals in children fed supermarket diets, as opposed to various oddball "organic" diets, is measurable even with washing of produce etc. There is also the problem of sequestration within the food, where the suspect stuff cannot be washed off, in certain crops absorbent or heavily treated while growing (the sequestration of various chemicals by GM crops, as part of their engineered resistance to herbicides and expression of pesticides etc, is a new wrinkle on this as yet largely unresearched).
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  10. #9  
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    Iceaura

    My statements are based on the results of analytical testing carried out by the NZ Food Standards Authority, and I believe similar results are achieved by equivalent organisations in other western countries.

    As I said, half of all tests show no detectable residue - less than one part per trillion. It is rare to find a result of more than one part per million, and 1 ppm is not a health issue.

    In the 1940's to 1960's, when non biodegradable pesticides, including things like arsenic, DDT, mercury and other nasties were used, then pesticide residues on food was a real issue. Today it is not. Modern pesticides are not as toxic to mammals and are biodegradable.

    Perhaps the worst pesticide still in use today is copper sulfate, used by organic farmers as a fungicide. This is non biodegradable, a liver toxin, and a scourge of earthworms. Fortunately, conventional farmers are not permitted to use nasty materials like that any more.
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  11. #10  
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    similar results are achieved by equivalent organisations in other western countries.
    And that's why I won't buy canned or bottled goods unless I'm really, really sure they didn't originate in a country with poor, or poorly regulate, agricultural or food processing standards.

    Copper sulphate and bordeaux mixture are still used commercially on kiwifruit in NZ. http://www.kvh.org.nz/vdb/document/418
    On mangoes in Australia. http://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/__data/ass...cnose-pf19.pdf
    And in at least parts of USA. http://pubs.ext.vt.edu/456/456-419/456-419_pdf.pdf
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  12. #11  
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    As I said, half of all tests show no detectable residue - less than one part per trillion. It is rare to find a result of more than one part per million, and 1 ppm is not a health issue.

    In the 1940's to 1960's, when non biodegradable pesticides, including things like arsenic, DDT, mercury and other nasties were used, then pesticide residues on food was a real issue. Today it is not. Modern pesticides are not as toxic to mammals and are biodegradable.
    Most of the chemicals used nowdays are more toxic to mammals than is DDT. You can use DDT to fumigate living people, with little if any immediate harm to their health. There aren't very many modern chemicals you can use to bathe children without severe and immediate problems.

    Meanwhile, those biodegrading chemicals are somehow building up in children fed supermarket diets - you can find them in their blood and hair and bones and fat. And the expression/sequestration problem in GM crops is a time bomb bigger than trans fats (now being quietly phased out, with everyone agreeing to not talk about what happened).
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  13. #12  
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    Iceaura

    Where do you get your data from?

    It would be a good tip to give to a fantasy writer who is running out of weird concepts to write about.

    The main thing about detecting pesticide residues today, in food or in children, is an increasingly sensitive technology for analytical chemistry. I remember receiving stuff from Greenpeace telling me how terrible it is that dioxins are present in human mother's milk. I checked the literature for the relevent data independently, and sure enough, dioxins are found in mother's milk. Around 100 parts per quadrillion!

    A year or ten ago, we would have got a result of zero. But our tests are now so sensitive that we can detect 100 ppq!!!
    For your information, that is not a cause for anxiety.
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  14. #13  
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    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    As I said, half of all tests show no detectable residue - less than one part per trillion. It is rare to find a result of more than one part per million, and 1 ppm is not a health issue.

    In the 1940's to 1960's, when non biodegradable pesticides, including things like arsenic, DDT, mercury and other nasties were used, then pesticide residues on food was a real issue. Today it is not. Modern pesticides are not as toxic to mammals and are biodegradable.
    Most of the chemicals used nowdays are more toxic to mammals than is DDT.
    Source for this data please...

    /edited to highlight sentence in question./
    Last edited by Paleoichneum; February 16th, 2012 at 02:39 AM.
    If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world. -Thorin Oakenshield

    The needs of the many outweigh the need of the few - Spock of Vulcan & Sentinel Prime of Cybertron ---proof that "the needs" are in the eye of the beholder.
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  15. #14  
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    Actually, Paleoichneum

    I can, to a degree, back up Iceaura here.
    In WWII, DDT was used to dust returning veterans to kill off body lice. Worked really well, and appeared not to have any lasting effects.

    He is wrong only in suggesting that modern pesticides are more toxic to mammals. Modern pesticides are generally quite low in mammalian toxicity.
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  16. #15  
    Time Lord Paleoichneum's Avatar
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    I should have clarified my post more, I agree with the DDT comments, but I was wondering about the source of the modern pesticides are worse comment. I shall edit the quote to the area in question.
    If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world. -Thorin Oakenshield

    The needs of the many outweigh the need of the few - Spock of Vulcan & Sentinel Prime of Cybertron ---proof that "the needs" are in the eye of the beholder.
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    I was wondering about the source of the modern pesticides are worse comment.
    The comment was not "worse", in general - simply more immediately hazardous to someone eating ordinary amounts of them, as they are ordinarily applied and found in supermarkets, in their food.

    The sources of complaint about the DDT ban - which ought to be familiar to the folks around here who find Monsanto - financed expertise more reliable than Greenpeace alarmism - will usually supply all manner of accounts.

    But something like this should do - as usual, herbicides and insecticides and fungicides are assorted and mixed, and only the active ingredients are considered (that exaggerates the relative hazard of DDT, which does not require as much in the way of hazardous solvents and stabilizers and adherents and surfactants and so forth), but the general situation is reasonably clear:

    http://www.pesticidereform.org/downloads/E07hazards.pdf DDT is not there, but if it were it should be "slight" for poisoning risk.

    http://www.who.int/ipcs/publications...azard_2009.pdf The WHO list, which is deceptively technical looking. It's missing some critical info, in particular the circumstances of ordinary use and lowlevel exposure, but the general classification of DDT as "moderate" is fair enough. (One key observation is the category "unevaluated". Safety should not be inferred from ignorance).

    For specific example, this is the insecticide recently (a few years ago) broadcast from airplanes over much of the Red River and upper Minnesota River valleys, in a situation where DDT would have been (years ago) the likely chemical of choice: http://www.cdpr.ca.gov/docs/risk/rcd/carbofuran.pdf
    Last edited by iceaura; February 16th, 2012 at 11:35 AM.
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  18. #17  
    Time Lord Paleoichneum's Avatar
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    So in other words, no actual paper showing toxicity of the chemicals being discussed as found in retail outlets.
    If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world. -Thorin Oakenshield

    The needs of the many outweigh the need of the few - Spock of Vulcan & Sentinel Prime of Cybertron ---proof that "the needs" are in the eye of the beholder.
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  19. #18  
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    I get the strong impression for Iceaura's posts, that he lacks the ability to discriminate between minor hazard and major.

    There is nothing in this world that is hazard free. I sometimes tell the story of the small boy in Auckland, asleep in his bed, who was killed by a car leaving the road at extreme speed, and flying through the air through the side of the house and killing the small boy.

    Nothing is 100% safe. Pesticides all carry a risk. So do organic agriculture sprays. So does the business of bending over a crop picking off insect pests and pulling out weeds in the most environmentally friendly way. Millions of people have wrecked their backs, often permanently, doing that.

    If I were to strap on a backpack filled with synthetic pyrethroid solution, to spray the vege garden, I would be taking less risk to my own health than if I were to spend several days physically plucking off pest insects.

    Iceaura, life is full of risk. We cannot avoid all risk. Some risk we accept. If it is a small enough risk, then the risk is fully acceptable. If I caught typhoid, and the doctor wanted to inject me full of a novel antibiotic to cure it, I would say "Yes", even though that carries a small risk I might be allergic, even fatally allergic, to that antibiotic.

    In the same way, the big risk with eating food is obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease from fats, starches, sugars, and salt. Any risk from pesticide residues is so tiny by comparison that we can happily ignore it as too trivial to bother with.

    I would suggest you try to get some priority in your assessment of risk.
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  20. #19  
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    Nothing is 100% safe. Pesticides all carry a risk.
    So we agree, then, that modern herbicides, pesticides, fungicides, together with their normal solvents and surfactants and stabilizers and so forth,

    as they are normally applied and residual on foodstuffs,

    are in fact and in general at least as toxic to mammals in general and humans in particular as DDT in the same circumstances.

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    In the same way, the big risk with eating food is obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease from fats, starches, sugars, and salt. Any risk from pesticide residues is so tiny by comparison that we can happily ignore it as too trivial to bother with.
    Aside from the fact that the triviality of the risk is a mere assertion on your part, without the slightest evidence or argument or even accurate supporting observation,

    and that so far you have demonstrated several major errors and gaps in your assessments of the physical reality involved - the relative safety of modern chemicals in ordinary use, say (rendering assertions based on such errors suspect),

    a more central matter is this: Those big risks are to the beneficiaries, and from the benefits - they are tradeoffs.

    The benefits from feeding pesticide residues, GM sequestered herbicides, and fungicidal preservative chemicals, to pregnant women and small children and so forth, do not accrue to them. They take the risks, which you have no apparent realistic comprehension of, and others reap the benefits, which you exaggerate and misattribute.
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  21. #20  
    Time Lord Paleoichneum's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    Nothing is 100% safe. Pesticides all carry a risk.
    So we agree, then, that modern herbicides, pesticides, fungicides, together with their normal solvents and surfactants and stabilizers and so forth,

    as they are normally applied and residual on foodstuffs,

    are in fact and in general at least as toxic to mammals in general and humans in particular as DDT in the same circumstances.
    Are you referring to the amounts that are initially applies to the crop while it is still growing? Or are you talking the residual traces that may be present on the crop at time of purchase from a grocery store?

    Depending on which your are meaning I doubt that Skeptic agrees.

    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    In the same way, the big risk with eating food is obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease from fats, starches, sugars, and salt. Any risk from pesticide residues is so tiny by comparison that we can happily ignore it as too trivial to bother with.
    Aside from the fact that the triviality of the risk is a mere assertion on your part, without the slightest evidence or argument or even accurate supporting observation,

    and that so far you have demonstrated several major errors and gaps in your assessments of the physical reality involved - the relative safety of modern chemicals in ordinary use, say (rendering assertions based on such errors suspect),

    a more central matter is this: Those big risks are to the beneficiaries, and from the benefits - they are tradeoffs.

    The benefits from feeding pesticide residues, GM sequestered herbicides, and fungicidal preservative chemicals, to pregnant women and small children and so forth, do not accrue to them. They take the risks, which you have no apparent realistic comprehension of, and others reap the benefits, which you exaggerate and misattribute.
    Again are you referring to time of application or time of purchase?
    Last edited by Paleoichneum; February 18th, 2012 at 03:03 PM.
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    If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world. -Thorin Oakenshield

    The needs of the many outweigh the need of the few - Spock of Vulcan & Sentinel Prime of Cybertron ---proof that "the needs" are in the eye of the beholder.
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  22. #21  
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    Obviously I do not agree that residual pesticides etc in food are a significant risk. They are, at most, a trivial risk. As I said, the risk from saturated and trans fats, sugars, salt, and purified starch in your food outweighs these trivial elements massively.

    I doubt, iceaura, you would even bother to list 'natural' materials in foods as risks. Yet natural pesticides in foods outweigh synthetic pesticide residues by orders of magnitude. Every plant produces natural insecticides which get into, and become a part of our food. They are all toxic to humans if enough is consumed. In spite of the fact that they are toxic and present at levels way, way higher than synthetic pesticide residues, they rarely give problems. (Not never. In 2002, here in NZ, Christchurch and Auckland hospitals admitted 14 people with cucurbitacin poisoning. Cucurbitacin is a natural insecticide made by zucchinnis.)
    Vegfed denies poison zucchini cover-up Science in the News News Royal Society of New Zealand

    The old time Maori of my country ate the root of the bracken root as a staple food. It contains carcinogens, and the bones of those old timers show a very high level of cancer.
    http://web.auckland.ac.nz/uoa/scienc...-pteridium.cfm

    it seems to me that there are a lot of things we could worry about in food, that are far more important than the trivial traces of synthetic pesticides.
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