Organic food makes Harriet Hall's top 10 - Really?

Discussion of Skeptic magazine and Letters to the Editor
User avatar
ForestDweller
Poster
Posts: 231
Joined: Wed Feb 01, 2012 1:17 pm
Location: Rockshore, New Hampshire

Organic food makes Harriet Hall's top 10 - Really?

Postby ForestDweller » Thu Feb 02, 2012 12:20 am

Harriet Hall's Skeptic.com front page treatment of Organic Food, found in the download Alternative_Medicine_by_Harriet_Hall.pdf, #6 in the author's list of Top 10 Things You Should Know About Alternative Medicine, is short on substance and long in cynicism. Though the pretext of Organic Food as Alternative Medicine is in itself mystifying, the misleading suppositions that follow warrant skeptical analysis. Observations regarding #6 in the author's Top 10 List, are as follows (please refer to the .pdf published on Skeptic.com for the original list):

-"Organic," though it is (and fairly so) a marketable term, it is not a meaningless buzzword.

-To flinch at the word "Organic" on a label, with that word alone leading to one's disinclination to buy the product, is logically indefensible.

-The author generalizes a best-case scenario - "What we really want is..." then suggests that "Organic food ... doesn't necessarily achieve those goals." There is however, no general category of commercially available food that better achieves these goals, or that is headed in a better direction than the direction that Organic food is headed.

-An Organic food "may cost more and be less pretty," but these factors have no bearing on nutritive or health value.

-The question is asked, "Absent pesticides, plants may produce higher levels of natural pesticides... ...could these be bad for us?" This postulation and resultant question, though reasonable to consider, are generalized speculation not science. Pesticides in large-scale use on non-organic grains, root vegetables and elsewhere, are to a reasonable degree already understood to be bad for us.

I would submit that, though asking questions is a good idea, reflexively buying Organic food, from a health and nutrition perspective, is a VERY good idea and to my mind there is sufficient data available on the matter to support that conclusion - particularly as, generally speaking, there is no better alternative.

Perhaps even more mystifying than the author's pretext of Organic Food as Alternative Medicine, is how this writing exists as a featured download on Skeptic.com.

Comments welcome! - John

User avatar
Hex
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1082
Joined: Tue Mar 29, 2005 11:26 pm
Custom Title: mi malam ciuj el vi
Location: Ontario, Canada

Re: Organic food makes Harriet Hall's top 10 - Really?

Postby Hex » Thu Feb 02, 2012 2:57 am

Maybe she was confusing organic with natural?
Spoiler:
  TOYNBEE IDEA
IN KUBRICK'S 2001
RESURRECT DEAD
ON PLANET JUPITER  

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fwoaOJZ7Dfk

User avatar
ForestDweller
Poster
Posts: 231
Joined: Wed Feb 01, 2012 1:17 pm
Location: Rockshore, New Hampshire

Re: Organic food makes Harriet Hall's top 10 - Really?

Postby ForestDweller » Thu Feb 02, 2012 12:26 pm

The author could be confusing organic with natural, sure. Still, this disparagement of Organic is baseless. It is not the sub-order of food that the author implies. It's like, organic sucks, eat poison, but - ask questions. Given the placement of the article and its' availability as a download, one has to presume that Skeptic.com is actually a proponent of this viewpoint. Skeptic.com is about promoting science. This is not science, this is haughty conjecture. One does not have to be a connoisseur of things, to understand and benefit from the difference between Organic and non-organic food. If it is available and one can afford it over non-organic food, it is probably and with good reason, the better choice. The relative importance of making that choice, is up to the individual.

User avatar
fromthehills
Has More Than 9K Posts
Posts: 9890
Joined: Wed Aug 19, 2009 2:01 am
Location: Woostone

Re: Organic food makes Harriet Hall's top 10 - Really?

Postby fromthehills » Thu Feb 02, 2012 1:29 pm

Steve Jobs thought it was an alternative medicine.

User avatar
fromthehills
Has More Than 9K Posts
Posts: 9890
Joined: Wed Aug 19, 2009 2:01 am
Location: Woostone

Re: Organic food makes Harriet Hall's top 10 - Really?

Postby fromthehills » Thu Feb 02, 2012 1:37 pm

I was in to food labeled "organic" for quite a while, until I started researching it, and being open-minded enough to see that a "conventional" crop is chemically identical to an "organic" crop. I'd be impressed if you could show me an inorganic crop. Seeing both sides to this, I've come to realize there's a dogma to eating organic, that doesn't have a basis in science.

User avatar
ForestDweller
Poster
Posts: 231
Joined: Wed Feb 01, 2012 1:17 pm
Location: Rockshore, New Hampshire

Re: Organic food makes Harriet Hall's top 10 - Really?

Postby ForestDweller » Thu Feb 02, 2012 1:44 pm

It is my working understanding that Steve Jobs was a proponent of Organic food, a logical choice. If you have some further point, please state it.

Yes, all food falls within the category of Organic Chemistry, as do pesticides, though generally speaking we do not make meals of pesticide. By choosing Organic food, one can avoid this choice with a greater probability than one can by choosing non-organic food.

User avatar
Gord
Real Skeptic
Posts: 29413
Joined: Wed Apr 29, 2009 2:44 am
Custom Title: Silent Ork
Location: Transcona

Re: Organic food makes Harriet Hall's top 10 - Really?

Postby Gord » Thu Feb 02, 2012 1:45 pm

There seems to be plenty of skepticism toward "organic foods." Some consider it nothing more than pop culture with no real substance behind it.

Check out, for instance, Brian Dunning's Skeptoid: Organic Food Myths
"Knowledge grows through infinite timelessness" -- the random fictional Deepak Chopra quote site
"You are also taking my words out of context." -- Justin
"Nullius in verba" -- The Royal Society ["take nobody's word for it"]
#ANDAMOVIE

User avatar
ForestDweller
Poster
Posts: 231
Joined: Wed Feb 01, 2012 1:17 pm
Location: Rockshore, New Hampshire

Re: Organic food makes Harriet Hall's top 10 - Really?

Postby ForestDweller » Thu Feb 02, 2012 1:58 pm

Thank you for the link, I will review it before my next post. Of course organic food is regarded with skepticism, as is virtually everything else. If one would conclude that there is no scientific evidence at all that foods derived from pesticide use, that is to say any/all pesticide use, have any deleterious affect on human health, then it would be logical to conclude that there is no appreciable difference in that respect, between Organic and non-organic food. I do not think that the available evidence assembles to that conclusion though I would welcome and will review information.presented.

User avatar
ForestDweller
Poster
Posts: 231
Joined: Wed Feb 01, 2012 1:17 pm
Location: Rockshore, New Hampshire

Re: Organic food makes Harriet Hall's top 10 - Really?

Postby ForestDweller » Thu Feb 02, 2012 5:58 pm

Thanks again for the link. I read the lengthy article by Brian Dunning. I note that in the first line of the second paragraph, he writes "Organic food is a conventional food crop (genetically exactly the same plant variety as the regular version)..." He repeats this to some degree later in the article - though this cannot be considered a true statement. Organic food, of course, as a prerequisite, cannot be genetically modified, whereas other food products can, and routinely are, for various, often unpalatable reasons. So, whereas one could be expected to sprout a seed from an organic vegetable, in the case of genetically altered food, this assumption cannot be made. How those foods could be considered genetically identical, escapes me. The article continues from this boldly false statement, with further misleading writing. The author never mentions the genetically-altered nature of commercial food, and provides only two sentences in a suggestion that since there are hungry in the world, there is a downside to non-organic agribusiness, while spending the preponderance of the article in disingenuous attacks on various factors of the fledgling organic food industry, leaving the unwary reader to presume that this somehow equitably presents both sides of the organic vs. inorganic equation in circumspection - it does not. For instance, he rails against "natural pesticides," citing all manner of natural poisons unrelated to organic farming, while asserting that synthetic pesticides are bio-degradable and have decades of studies proving their total safety. This assertion that natural organic pesticides are less safe that organic pesticides, is unrealistic, and bringing other natural poisons into the field of what should be reasonably considerable data, is disingenuous. This would seem to assert that modern agribusiness farming methods are better for the land and watersheds that they are near, than is organic food, and this is also an unrealistic assertion. Presumably we are to conclude that sub-theraputic levels of antibiotics and steroids running unfiltered into our drinking water cannot affect human health, while we use the very same chemical structures to treat human health? It does not seem a worthwhile expenditure of time to line-by-line refute the statements made in a 4 year old article that begins, basically, with a bold-faced lie. I leave it to the individual to determine for themselves whether they think agribusiness is providing healthier, better regulated and safer food products that are better for the environment, than the foods that organic farming is providing. In the end I think that it's great that we can actually choose between foods with differing production methods, and we can make different choices based on the factors of the day. It is unfortunate that such snide and misleading cynics as this author, get away with unjustly tarnishing and excusing away as profit-mongering (while ignoring the elephant-in-the-room of big agribusiness), the efforts that are being made, working on the frontier territory of commercial organic food production, to provide more and better choices to consumers.

Gord wrote:There seems to be plenty of skepticism toward "organic foods." Some consider it nothing more than pop culture with no real substance behind it.

Check out, for instance, Brian Dunning's Skeptoid: Organic Food Myths

User avatar
ForestDweller
Poster
Posts: 231
Joined: Wed Feb 01, 2012 1:17 pm
Location: Rockshore, New Hampshire

Re: Organic food makes Harriet Hall's top 10 - Really?

Postby ForestDweller » Fri Feb 03, 2012 12:36 am

Gord wrote:There seems to be plenty of skepticism toward "organic foods." Some consider it nothing more than pop culture with no real substance behind it.

Check out, for instance, Brian Dunning's Skeptoid: Organic Food Myths


In the 10 or so hours that have passed with my reply stuck in Moderation, I researched further, and uncovered evidence suggesting that this is a financially biased source, the article written for a lobbyist organization working in active opposition to studies pertaining to the dangers of meat, soda pop, pesticides, dairy, fatty foods, pharmaceuticals and animal testing (among others).

I find it a good idea to be skeptical of ANY source that voices opposition to a concept with such one-sided vehemence, no matter how the stated "evidence" may tend to support their argument.

I have read in several places the assertion, to paraphrase, that "organic food production requires 7 X the organic pesticide used in non-organic food production," however I have not been able to find any source for this assertion. To the contrary, I found information that suggested:

52% of organic farmers use no pesticides whatsoever and the rest generally use significantly less pesticides than most conventional farmers. Here is what the USDA says "organic produce carries significantly fewer pesticide residues than conventional produce."

"Organically grown foods consistently had about one-third as many residues as conventionally grown foods"

"Conventionally grown and IPM/NDR samples were also far more likely to contain multiple pesticide residues than were organically grown samples." ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/153443­65

User avatar
Blacksamwell
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1951
Joined: Tue Nov 03, 2009 3:21 am
Custom Title: Buckfutter
Location: Columbia, Missouri, U.S.A.

Re: Organic food makes Harriet Hall's top 10 - Really?

Postby Blacksamwell » Fri Feb 03, 2012 1:13 am

Aren't organic pesticides more toxic and/or dangerous to people than modern synthetic options?

I remember that being a point from Penn & Teller's BS, but I don't remember what support (if any) they offered to substantiate their claim. So I'll just throw my question out there and see what the group can find.

User avatar
ForestDweller
Poster
Posts: 231
Joined: Wed Feb 01, 2012 1:17 pm
Location: Rockshore, New Hampshire

Re: Organic food makes Harriet Hall's top 10 - Really?

Postby ForestDweller » Fri Feb 03, 2012 1:28 am

Blacksamwell wrote:Aren't organic pesticides more toxic and/or dangerous to people than modern synthetic options?

I remember that being a point from Penn & Teller's BS, but I don't remember what support (if any) they offered to substantiate their claim. So I'll just throw my question out there and see what the group can find.


Well, presuming if you would for the momentm that my statement that 52% of organic farmers use no pesticide whatsoever, is accurate, then Penn & Teller's point would not be relevant to 52% of organic farm production, and if my assertion that organic foods have 1/3 the pesticide residue of non-organic foods, is correct, then the remaining 48% could have much less of a potentially more toxic/dangerous pesticide residue present. I believe however that Penn & Teller's program has been adequately debunked, and it is my recollection that no, they could not substantiate their claims. I appreciate the reference, and will review that information to be sure. Agribusiness farming uses their pesticides to the degree that it heavily permeates the soil and with monoculture farming, the root systems become immersed in pesticide solution; I am not trying to make this sound worse than it is, but it is the case that these pesticides such as Monsanto's Roundup become absorbed and are taken up into the plant system internally by the roots. That sort of thing, good for you or not, does not come off with a quick rinse.

User avatar
OlegTheBatty
True Skeptic
Posts: 10510
Joined: Thu Mar 27, 2008 2:35 pm
Custom Title: Uppity Atheist

Re: Organic food makes Harriet Hall's top 10 - Really?

Postby OlegTheBatty » Fri Feb 03, 2012 1:56 am

Blacksamwell wrote:Aren't organic pesticides more toxic and/or dangerous to people than modern synthetic options?

I remember that being a point from Penn & Teller's BS, but I don't remember what support (if any) they offered to substantiate their claim. So I'll just throw my question out there and see what the group can find.

Some are, some aren't. Commercial preparations tend to be less dangerous to mammals - eg pyrethroids. Glyphosate (Rounduptm) (synthetic) has low mammalian toxicity, and breaks down rapidly on contact with soil. However it does not break down in plant tissues until the tissues break down. There is no rule of thumb vis-a-vis natural vs synthetic. BTW, the naturals that are applied to crops are not natural in that sense anyway, they are manufactured using similar processes to the synthetics - ie, the molecules the farmer applies are all synthetic, regardless whether they were developed by Monsanto or Chrysanthemum coccineum.

Nor does it matter.

What matters is the toxicity of pesticide residues on the food when it reaches your home. These are very strictly regulated and are well below the threshold where your metabolism has trouble breaking them down and excreting them.

The kicker is that these regulations are monitored by random sampling, so higher concentrations of pesticide residues can sneak through. Acceptable residues are set low enough that it would be rare for a dangerous dose to get through, but it is not impossible. Wash your fresh fruits and vegetables.

Most fruits and vegetables are neither GM, nor grown by 'organic' methods. I know farmers who grow 'organic' for the market, because they can charge a lot more, and use the same seed to grow their own use crops conventionally, because it is cheaper and just as nutritious. ForestGarden is about 90% wrong in his refutation of Dunning. Conventional seed producers are flourishing.

Whether GM crops could be classed as 'organic' would depend on jurisdiction and regulatory preferences. 'Organic' is not defined by end-users, it is defined by regulatory bodies. Supposedly, end-users had some input.
. . . with the satisfied air of a man who thinks he has an idea of his own because he has commented on the idea of another . . . - Alexandre Dumas 'The Count of Monte Cristo"

There is no statement so absurd that it has not been uttered by some philosopher. - Cicero

User avatar
fromthehills
Has More Than 9K Posts
Posts: 9890
Joined: Wed Aug 19, 2009 2:01 am
Location: Woostone

Re: Organic food makes Harriet Hall's top 10 - Really?

Postby fromthehills » Fri Feb 03, 2012 3:02 am

ForestDweller wrote:It is my working understanding that Steve Jobs was a proponent of Organic food, a logical choice. If you have some further point, please state it.

Yes, all food falls within the category of Organic Chemistry, as do pesticides, though generally speaking we do not make meals of pesticide. By choosing Organic food, one can avoid this choice with a greater probability than one can by choosing non-organic food.


It may have not been a logical choice. And may have been treated as an "alternative medicine". From what I understand Jobs decided to put off actual medical treatment, and in place he went with a regiment of organic vegan diet, and positive thinking. Months later, he went in for conventional treatment for something that could have been an easily treatable cancer, but too late. I'm not claiming this to be the reason he died, but it does seem to be the likely reason.

This is where it gets dangerous. To view diet as a cure when it prevents one from pursuing actual medical care. So, in my opinion, Harriet Hall is justified in calling "organic" an alternative medical scam. I don't see that she was condemning "organic" food as something that should be shunned, but rather that it shouldn't be something that is viewed as a better choice than that of actual medicine.

Again, organic food advocacy is a dogma, and has no basis in science. Which means, it has no more validity in real life than does any other cult following.

User avatar
ForestDweller
Poster
Posts: 231
Joined: Wed Feb 01, 2012 1:17 pm
Location: Rockshore, New Hampshire

Re: Organic food makes Harriet Hall's top 10 - Really?

Postby ForestDweller » Fri Feb 03, 2012 3:33 am

I thought that the major factor contributing to the death of Steve Jobs, was the drugs needed to stabilize the liver transplant.

Though you make a valid point in that Organic food should not be used as a substitute for conventional medicine, Harriet Hall does not state that point in her text, she instead simply lumps Organic food in with a bullet list of alternative medicines then unscientifically attempts to berate it as a food product.

To state that Organic food advocacy is a dogma without basis in science, this can only be said in ignorance. It is in fact a complete misnomer. You might as well also state that non-organic food advocacy is a dogma without basis in science, for both statements, have relatively equal validity. For that matter, why not state that Food advocacy is a dogma without basis in science, and cover both misnomers at once.

Both Organic and non-organic food, are worthy of advocacy. One however, is from a risk-management perspective, the better choice.

Oleg, I appreciate the thought, though I do not see the 90%. Are non-genetically modified vegetables now actually genetically identical to genetically modified vegetables? Are we now able to sprout the seeds from vegetables grown from seeds genetically modified to produce sterile vegetables? Is there no longer the potential for sub-theraputic levels of antibiotics and steroids leeched into the watershed, to affect human health? I would be interested in identifying those areas in my understanding that need further attention.

User avatar
fromthehills
Has More Than 9K Posts
Posts: 9890
Joined: Wed Aug 19, 2009 2:01 am
Location: Woostone

Re: Organic food makes Harriet Hall's top 10 - Really?

Postby fromthehills » Fri Feb 03, 2012 4:01 am

Fair enough on Steve Jobs, I have heard speculation from others,and have no idea, personally.

As for being ignorant on the organic food movement, and now multi-billion dollar industry, I am not ignorant. If I seem that way, well, don't know what to say, I'm not. The organic food proponents believe that we should all be eating organic, or that it is somehow better. That it is more environmentally safe, it's healthier, taste better, and so on. None of this has any scientific validity. It truly is a label that makes us feel better about ourselves. You can get some mom and pop farm produce, but the majority is grown by the same corporate farms that grow everything else. When something is chemically identical, when the same chemical compounds are required to grow the same crops, there is nothing to show organic crops to be better. I was also duped by the organic thing for quite some time

User avatar
OlegTheBatty
True Skeptic
Posts: 10510
Joined: Thu Mar 27, 2008 2:35 pm
Custom Title: Uppity Atheist

Re: Organic food makes Harriet Hall's top 10 - Really?

Postby OlegTheBatty » Fri Feb 03, 2012 4:45 am

ForestDweller wrote:Oleg, I appreciate the thought, though I do not see the 90%. Are non-genetically modified vegetables now actually genetically identical to genetically modified vegetables? Are we now able to sprout the seeds from vegetables grown from seeds genetically modified to produce sterile vegetables? Is there no longer the potential for sub-theraputic levels of antibiotics and steroids leeched into the watershed, to affect human health? I would be interested in identifying those areas in my understanding that need further attention.

No, gm is not identical to not-gm. I think you are greatly overestimating the percentage of food crops that are grown from gm propagules. Cross breeding is still an important method of improving cultivars. Many older cultivars are still in production.

Growing crops for seed production is still a thriving industry.
. . . with the satisfied air of a man who thinks he has an idea of his own because he has commented on the idea of another . . . - Alexandre Dumas 'The Count of Monte Cristo"

There is no statement so absurd that it has not been uttered by some philosopher. - Cicero

User avatar
ForestDweller
Poster
Posts: 231
Joined: Wed Feb 01, 2012 1:17 pm
Location: Rockshore, New Hampshire

Re: Organic food makes Harriet Hall's top 10 - Really?

Postby ForestDweller » Fri Feb 03, 2012 12:40 pm

OlegTheBatty wrote:
ForestDweller wrote:Oleg, I appreciate the thought, though I do not see the 90%. Are non-genetically modified vegetables now actually genetically identical to genetically modified vegetables? Are we now able to sprout the seeds from vegetables grown from seeds genetically modified to produce sterile vegetables? Is there no longer the potential for sub-theraputic levels of antibiotics and steroids leeched into the watershed, to affect human health? I would be interested in identifying those areas in my understanding that need further attention.

No, gm is not identical to not-gm. I think you are greatly overestimating the percentage of food crops that are grown from gm propagules. Cross breeding is still an important method of improving cultivars. Many older cultivars are still in production.

Growing crops for seed production is still a thriving industry.


So we agree then, that the 2nd paragraph of the article that Dunning was paid to write for the lobbyist, is a false statement. Perhaps your estimate that my interpretation of it was 90% wrong, was akin to my boy's common response, "I told you a thousand times already." Or, you might have meant to infer that you see Dunning's article (financially biased article, not study) was 90% correct.

I am missing your point in stating "growing crops for seed production is still a thriving industry." Did I imply that it was not, or that I have some general problem with industry? I do not. Nor, do I have any particularly serious problem with non-organic foods in general. I eat them often. I am not fanatic about Organic food; I simply manage risk, and would encourage others to do so as well, based not on conjecture or unfounded assumption, but on calculable probability and relative affordability.

I have not put forward an estimate of quantity of gm-grown foods that I am aware of. A better question would be, how much of the American (as I am American) non-organic food supply, includes ingredients from gm-sourced foods. I would estimate that figure at 2/3, though it is probably higher than that now. Do I have a problem with this? In the context of this discussion, not particularly. It is merely an estimate, a point of note, food for thought, if you will.

According to Slate Magazine, in 2002, "Approximately 76 percent of last year's American soybean crop was GM, as well as 32 percent of corn. (Some estimates place the corn figure closer to 50 percent.)" Chew on that for a moment. 10 years later, what is the probability that this number is lower? I would say that probability is, in the words of James Burke, rapidly rising to - zero. Now let us consider how many processed food products include corn, or soybean. Briefly dialing in on the corn, let us consider Monsanto's GM-engineered corn - genetically redesigned to create its' own pesticide. There is pesticide in that corn on the cellular level. Again, anecdotal to this particular conversation.

In the end we as purchasers and consumers of food, when choosing between foods, are (thankfully) presented with choices. Again I would submit that logically and probably, Organic food is, overall, the better choice and again I assert that there is sufficient available science to support this conclusion over the only other possible conclusion in this instance. Am I saying that there is definitive science on the matter? It would seem that others here are saying that there is definitive science to the contrary, though in drilling down I have yet to see it.

User avatar
ForestDweller
Poster
Posts: 231
Joined: Wed Feb 01, 2012 1:17 pm
Location: Rockshore, New Hampshire

Re: Organic food makes Harriet Hall's top 10 - Really?

Postby ForestDweller » Fri Feb 03, 2012 12:56 pm

fromthehills wrote:Fair enough on Steve Jobs, I have heard speculation from others,and have no idea, personally.

As for being ignorant on the organic food movement, and now multi-billion dollar industry, I am not ignorant. If I seem that way, well, don't know what to say, I'm not. The organic food proponents believe that we should all be eating organic, or that it is somehow better. That it is more environmentally safe, it's healthier, taste better, and so on. None of this has any scientific validity. It truly is a label that makes us feel better about ourselves. You can get some mom and pop farm produce, but the majority is grown by the same corporate farms that grow everything else. When something is chemically identical, when the same chemical compounds are required to grow the same crops, there is nothing to show organic crops to be better. I was also duped by the organic thing for quite some time


Regarding Steve Jobs, neither do I have firsthand knowledge of the factors that ultimately accumulated to his death, though I do believe that we have seen the last of him; he is probably and to the disappointment of many, not going to rise again :)

I respect and would freely concur without evidence that you are not ignorant as to the subject of Organic food, kindly forgive the implication. What I meant to relate is, that your rather definitive statement

"organic food advocacy is a dogma, and has no basis in science. Which means, it has no more validity in real life than does any other cult following."

is unsupportable by science or logic and is itself a dogmatic presupposition. I am prepared to support that statement, with science and logic, though a generalization is sufficient to dismember it.

We are not talking here about people, we are talking about Organic food. Masses for or against, are irrelevant. Their subjective conclusions, also irrelevant.

The false statement made by Dunning that I railed against, you reassert.

"When something is chemically identical, when the same chemical compounds are required to grow the same crops, there is nothing to show organic crops to be better."

Yet, we know that Organic food by definition (and yes presuming that the label reflects the actual product content) cannot be genetically modified. Non-organic food, can be genetically modified. Therefore, without considerable additional information in specific instances, these products by definition can never be defined as identical.

Any thing can have a Cult following subcomponent. A model of Cisco phone can have a cult following. This does not validate or invalidate the reality of the Cisco phone, does it. There's just some wing-nuts orbiting around it now. They are going to show up eventually whether the fertilizer is Organic, or non-organic. It is however irrelevant.

User avatar
fromthehills
Has More Than 9K Posts
Posts: 9890
Joined: Wed Aug 19, 2009 2:01 am
Location: Woostone

Re: Organic food makes Harriet Hall's top 10 - Really?

Postby fromthehills » Fri Feb 03, 2012 2:51 pm

So, what's wrong with GM crops? I've been researching this as thoroughly as I can lately. There's some talk a superweed, but I haven't seen it anywhere but organic slanting sites. I can find no evidence for it being worse for you. We are able to use less pesticides and herbicides, and we have bigger yields. I've seen some issues with mono crops, but I don't see that that's a GM thing alone, nor any reason it has to be the practice for GM crops. I haven't seen any compelling evidence that makes me want to stay away from GM foods, unless it were just a personal distaste for Monsanto's practices, and there's quite a bit of that that comes from the organic crowd. I've seen so many lies and fear mongering come out of the organic and vegetarian crowd against GMO and fast food, that I don't trust anything they say. I've found very little that suggests Monsanto are a bunch of pricks, but tons that show the organic/antiGM crowd will say anything to slander GM and Monsanto. You don't really have folks rallying around conventional crops and spreading lies about organic food. That's what I'm saying when I say organic supporters are following a dogma. They are fanatical, and don't use evidence to support their position.

User avatar
Hex
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1082
Joined: Tue Mar 29, 2005 11:26 pm
Custom Title: mi malam ciuj el vi
Location: Ontario, Canada

Re: Organic food makes Harriet Hall's top 10 - Really?

Postby Hex » Fri Feb 03, 2012 5:23 pm

The size of farms that would be needed to effectively feed the world is on a scale that our planet cannot handle and would eventually be more harmful to the environment than what exists today.
Spoiler:
  TOYNBEE IDEA
IN KUBRICK'S 2001
RESURRECT DEAD
ON PLANET JUPITER  

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fwoaOJZ7Dfk

User avatar
ForestDweller
Poster
Posts: 231
Joined: Wed Feb 01, 2012 1:17 pm
Location: Rockshore, New Hampshire

Re: Organic food makes Harriet Hall's top 10 - Really?

Postby ForestDweller » Fri Feb 03, 2012 6:33 pm

fromthehills wrote:So, what's wrong with GM crops? I've been researching this as thoroughly as I can lately. There's some talk a superweed, but I haven't seen it anywhere but organic slanting sites. I can find no evidence for it being worse for you. We are able to use less pesticides and herbicides, and we have bigger yields. I've seen some issues with mono crops, but I don't see that that's a GM thing alone, nor any reason it has to be the practice for GM crops. I haven't seen any compelling evidence that makes me want to stay away from GM foods, unless it were just a personal distaste for Monsanto's practices, and there's quite a bit of that that comes from the organic crowd. I've seen so many lies and fear mongering come out of the organic and vegetarian crowd against GMO and fast food, that I don't trust anything they say. I've found very little that suggests Monsanto are a bunch of pricks, but tons that show the organic/antiGM crowd will say anything to slander GM and Monsanto. You don't really have folks rallying around conventional crops and spreading lies about organic food. That's what I'm saying when I say organic supporters are following a dogma. They are fanatical, and don't use evidence to support their position.


You pose a valid question though I have not asserted at this point in this particular discussion, that there is an issue specifically with GM crops. I did point out the GM vs non-GM falsity stated as fact in Dunning's Organic Food Myths. My initial assertion, was in taking issue with the inclusion of Organic food to Harriet Hall's Top 10 list and I stand by that, medicine and food have different definitions and if one is saying that one is implicitly being used as the other, one needs to demonstrate evidence that illustrates rather than presumes the point. I would like to discuss the GM question further at some point as I am studying it as well, I have relevant information and actively seek further information.

You appear to be rallying around conventional crops, and critically analyzing Organic food, lumping individuals into imagined crowds then judging them as if they were of one mind, which they are not. I have a tendency to do that as well though as it happens not in regard to Organic food. I am an example of an Organic food proponent that approaches the issue in an evidence-based scientific matter to the degree that I am able. I am not presenting lies, though I have yet to read a valid refutation of my statement that Dunning states a clear mistruth, in his article (paid article not study). You seem to have developed a mistrust of your own imagined group of Organic proponent-individuals. I do not have a problem with that, but to generalize that Organic supporters are following a dogma, in the instance of this discussion, I wish to note that this is more an emotional response than a valid, supportable statement. I too in my review of the Organic food information sources available to me, conclude that there is a preponderance of unsubstantiated text. I suppose the difference between our perspectives currently, is that though I attempt to disregard the information that is unsupported I am not judging an assumed yet fictitious group of individuals that I do not know or have information about, based upon issues of availability of good information, and the actions of the lesser-informed among them. You are correct that it is a low bar and who knows, I may well find myself in that degree of frustration eventually.

Your assertion that Organic food is cultist dogma, though I accept that you feel this way, remains unfounded. You are talking about people when the drill-down needs to be directed toward Organic food and non-organic food.

If I am making any assertion apart from my initial one, it is this - given the available information -

If one can afford it, from a risk-management, empirical evidence, science and logic-based perspective, Organic food is the overall better food choice, as compared to the choice of non-organic food.

There you go, that is my hypothesis. I do think that there is sufficient data to support this statement, and I reserve the right to add data as it comes available. I am certainly open to advise recommendation and challenge on the issue and am with greatest respect open to any reasonable opinion on the matter.

User avatar
ForestDweller
Poster
Posts: 231
Joined: Wed Feb 01, 2012 1:17 pm
Location: Rockshore, New Hampshire

Re: Organic food makes Harriet Hall's top 10 - Really?

Postby ForestDweller » Mon Feb 20, 2012 3:24 pm

An example of current research supporting the hypothesis that Organic food is better than non-organic food. Organic food by definition does not contain polystyrene food additives which it appears can lead to micronutrient deficiency & cause cellular adaptations to maintain iron absorption. More study is needed.

http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/Feb ... rmful.html

User avatar
Hex
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1082
Joined: Tue Mar 29, 2005 11:26 pm
Custom Title: mi malam ciuj el vi
Location: Ontario, Canada

Re: Organic food makes Harriet Hall's top 10 - Really?

Postby Hex » Mon Feb 20, 2012 4:12 pm

ForestDweller wrote:Given the placement of the article and its' availability as a download, one has to presume that Skeptic.com is actually a proponent of this viewpoint. Skeptic.com is about promoting science. This is not science, this is haughty conjecture.

Skeptic magazine has a long history of allowing alternative thinking and gives room for other opinions that may not be science but conjecture. I feel this is strength of Skeptic as it provides a stage for this alternating opinion that can then be discussed.

If Skeptic wishes that all opinions follow only a strict rules of what gets published, we'd never get to hear what Deepak Chopra has to say.

I hope this never stops, this transparency to challenge skeptical ideas vs. nontraditional ideas is always good, and takes away the argument that the "open" thinkers are banned from sharing their ideas.

I don't feel that every article that makes the Skeptic magazine or online papers suggests that it is condoned by Skeptic as the truth.
Spoiler:
  TOYNBEE IDEA
IN KUBRICK'S 2001
RESURRECT DEAD
ON PLANET JUPITER  

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fwoaOJZ7Dfk

User avatar
fromthehills
Has More Than 9K Posts
Posts: 9890
Joined: Wed Aug 19, 2009 2:01 am
Location: Woostone

Re: Organic food makes Harriet Hall's top 10 - Really?

Postby fromthehills » Mon Feb 20, 2012 4:18 pm

Here's some valid evidence.

User avatar
ForestDweller
Poster
Posts: 231
Joined: Wed Feb 01, 2012 1:17 pm
Location: Rockshore, New Hampshire

Re: Organic food makes Harriet Hall's top 10 - Really?

Postby ForestDweller » Mon Feb 20, 2012 4:38 pm

Hex wrote:
ForestDweller wrote:Given the placement of the article and its' availability as a download, one has to presume that Skeptic.com is actually a proponent of this viewpoint. Skeptic.com is about promoting science. This is not science, this is haughty conjecture.

Skeptic magazine has a long history of allowing alternative thinking and gives room for other opinions that may not be science but conjecture. I feel this is strength of Skeptic as it provides a stage for this alternating opinion that can then be discussed.

If Skeptic wishes that all opinions follow only a strict rules of what gets published, we'd never get to hear what Deepak Chopra has to say.

I hope this never stops, this transparency to challenge skeptical ideas vs. nontraditional ideas is always good, and takes away the argument that the "open" thinkers are banned from sharing their ideas.

I don't feel that every article that makes the Skeptic magazine or online papers suggests that it is condoned by Skeptic as the truth.


Well that all sounds reasonable, yet I don't see Deepak Chopra's .PDF available for free download. I do consider advertising a free file, to be a skeptic.com "stamp of approval." The offering of a file download and a front page link to that file, would require approval.

The article in question still does not hold up to my skeptical analysis. It needs further editing.

User avatar
Blacksamwell
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1951
Joined: Tue Nov 03, 2009 3:21 am
Custom Title: Buckfutter
Location: Columbia, Missouri, U.S.A.

Re: Organic food makes Harriet Hall's top 10 - Really?

Postby Blacksamwell » Mon Feb 20, 2012 5:03 pm

ForestDweller wrote:An example of current research supporting the hypothesis that Organic food is better than non-organic food. Organic food by definition does not contain polystyrene food additives which it appears can lead to micronutrient deficiency & cause cellular adaptations to maintain iron absorption. More study is needed.

http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/Feb ... rmful.html

How does the cited study support the hypothesis you've listed?

What foods have polystyrene added to them? What quantities of polystyrene are in these foods and what is the expected level of exposure from them? How do these levels compare to the exposures in the study?

FYI: According to Wikipedia, this Harvard study says that styrene is a naturally occurring compound that's "naturally present in foods such as strawberries, beef, and spices, and is naturally produced in the processing of foods such as wine and cheese."

So I suppose it's possible to have organic styrene in your organic foods, right?

User avatar
ForestDweller
Poster
Posts: 231
Joined: Wed Feb 01, 2012 1:17 pm
Location: Rockshore, New Hampshire

Re: Organic food makes Harriet Hall's top 10 - Really?

Postby ForestDweller » Mon Feb 20, 2012 5:45 pm

Blacksamwell wrote:
ForestDweller wrote:An example of current research supporting the hypothesis that Organic food is better than non-organic food. Organic food by definition does not contain polystyrene food additives which it appears can lead to micronutrient deficiency & cause cellular adaptations to maintain iron absorption. More study is needed.

http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/Feb ... rmful.html

How does the cited study support the hypothesis you've listed?

What foods have polystyrene added to them? What quantities of polystyrene are in these foods and what is the expected level of exposure from them? How do these levels compare to the exposures in the study?

FYI: According to Wikipedia, this Harvard study says that styrene is a naturally occurring compound that's "naturally present in foods such as strawberries, beef, and spices, and is naturally produced in the processing of foods such as wine and cheese."

So I suppose it's possible to have organic styrene in your organic foods, right?


Your 4 questions are only relevant to non-organic food, since no organic foods have polystyrene added to them, of that zero quantity there is no quantity of polystyrene actually in them, and the expected level of exposure to polystyrene food additives when eating organic food, would be rapidly rising to, zero.

It is certain that some organic foods have naturally occurring styrene in them; coffee is another, I believe. Naturally occurring styrene is however irrelevant in this instance.

Note that in the stacking of question marks, so far with this study we have 4 stacked up in the non-organic food category and have ruled them out of the organic category.

User avatar
ForestDweller
Poster
Posts: 231
Joined: Wed Feb 01, 2012 1:17 pm
Location: Rockshore, New Hampshire

Re: Organic food makes Harriet Hall's top 10 - Really?

Postby ForestDweller » Mon Feb 20, 2012 5:51 pm

The study supports my hypothesis in that it defines a link between the polystyrene food additives and iron absorption capability of cells. The food additive reduces iron absorption. Reduced iron absorption is a less healthful condition than nominal iron absorption. Or do we argue that as well, maybe reduced iron absorption is actually better but we don't know it yet... It is a small bit of evidence supporting my working hypothesis that organic food is better food than non-organic food.

User avatar
Austin Harper
Perpetual Poster
Posts: 4854
Joined: Wed Sep 21, 2011 2:22 pm
Custom Title: Rock Chalk Astrohawk
Location: Detroit
Contact:

Re: Organic food makes Harriet Hall's top 10 - Really?

Postby Austin Harper » Mon Feb 20, 2012 6:07 pm

ForestDweller wrote:
Blacksamwell wrote:What foods have polystyrene added to them? What quantities of polystyrene are in these foods and what is the expected level of exposure from them? How do these levels compare to the exposures in the study?

So I suppose it's possible to have organic styrene in your organic foods, right?

Your 4 questions are only relevant to non-organic food, since no organic foods have polystyrene added to them, of that zero quantity there is no quantity of polystyrene actually in them, and the expected level of exposure to polystyrene food additives when eating organic food, would be rapidly rising to, zero.

It is certain that some organic foods have naturally occurring styrene in them; coffee is another, I believe. Naturally occurring styrene is however irrelevant in this instance.

Note that in the stacking of question marks, so far with this study we have 4 stacked up in the non-organic food category and have ruled them out of the organic category.

Yes, the questions are relevant only to non-organic food. But just because you claim organic food doesn't contain polystyrene doesn't mean non-organic food does. Organic food also isn't laced with cyanide. That doesn't imply that non-organic food is. To claim organic food is better than non-organic food, you must show that non-organic food has faults that organic food does not.
Dum ratio nos ducet, valebimus et multa bene geremus.

User avatar
ForestDweller
Poster
Posts: 231
Joined: Wed Feb 01, 2012 1:17 pm
Location: Rockshore, New Hampshire

Re: Organic food makes Harriet Hall's top 10 - Really?

Postby ForestDweller » Mon Feb 20, 2012 6:31 pm

Austin Harper wrote:Yes, the questions are relevant only to non-organic food. But just because you claim organic food doesn't contain polystyrene doesn't mean non-organic food does. Organic food also isn't laced with cyanide. That doesn't imply that non-organic food is. To claim organic food is better than non-organic food, you must show that non-organic food has faults that organic food does not.


Well, to support my position, I need not validate that known, FDA-approved food additives actually do exist in non-organic food. They do. By definition, NO organic food has this food additive. They don't exist there. Effectively, one can completely avoid ingesting this food additive, by eating organic food.

I agree that I must show that non-organic food has faults that organic food does not. This study finds that a potential subcomponent of non-organic food, polystyrene nanoparticles, could be harmful to health. I stated and accept that more study is in order. My bold "claim" is not going to be settled in one paragraph. The results of this study add but 1 sliver of evidence to the pile.

User avatar
Blacksamwell
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1951
Joined: Tue Nov 03, 2009 3:21 am
Custom Title: Buckfutter
Location: Columbia, Missouri, U.S.A.

Re: Organic food makes Harriet Hall's top 10 - Really?

Postby Blacksamwell » Mon Feb 20, 2012 7:10 pm

The study appears to have used levels of polystyrene much higher than what would be expected in normal exposure through ingesting food. Hence my questions...

What food additives contain polystyrene? What foods are these in? How much is placed in the food?

If foods with polystyrene additives don't contain the levels used in the study, then can one reasonably claim that the study supports your hypothesis?

As an aside, please note that any organic foods that touch polystyrene will likely then contain polystyrene. It gets absorbed through contact. So to avoid eating this compound one would not only have to eat organic, but they'd also have to ensure that their food never touched a polystyrene container. Do organic growers, distributors, and retailers certify a completely polystyrene free supply chain?

User avatar
Blacksamwell
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1951
Joined: Tue Nov 03, 2009 3:21 am
Custom Title: Buckfutter
Location: Columbia, Missouri, U.S.A.

Re: Organic food makes Harriet Hall's top 10 - Really?

Postby Blacksamwell » Mon Feb 20, 2012 7:21 pm

I can't find any reference to polystyrene being used as a food additive.

Can anyone identify a food that has polystyrene as an additive?

User avatar
ForestDweller
Poster
Posts: 231
Joined: Wed Feb 01, 2012 1:17 pm
Location: Rockshore, New Hampshire

Re: Organic food makes Harriet Hall's top 10 - Really?

Postby ForestDweller » Mon Feb 20, 2012 7:48 pm

Blacksamwell wrote:The study appears to have used levels of polystyrene much higher than what would be expected in normal exposure through ingesting food. Hence my questions...

What food additives contain polystyrene? What foods are these in? How much is placed in the food?

If foods with polystyrene additives don't contain the levels used in the study, then can one reasonably claim that the study supports your hypothesis?

As an aside, please note that any organic foods that touch polystyrene will likely then contain polystyrene. It gets absorbed through contact. So to avoid eating this compound one would not only have to eat organic, but they'd also have to ensure that their food never touched a polystyrene container. Do organic growers, distributors, and retailers certify a completely polystyrene free supply chain?


I would have to see evidence suggesting that polystyrene is infused into all food it comes into contact with, I was not aware of that. This is specifically about 50-nanometer polystyrene carboxylated particles that are commercially available as food additive. That is what was tested, not swabs or rubs of a coffee cup or food container.

The study does more to support my hypothesis than detract from it.

User avatar
Blacksamwell
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1951
Joined: Tue Nov 03, 2009 3:21 am
Custom Title: Buckfutter
Location: Columbia, Missouri, U.S.A.

Re: Organic food makes Harriet Hall's top 10 - Really?

Postby Blacksamwell » Mon Feb 20, 2012 8:12 pm

ForestDweller wrote:I would have to see evidence suggesting that polystyrene is infused into all food it comes into contact with, I was not aware of that.

What about evidence that polystyrene nanoparticles are used as a food additive? Do you need evidence that this happens too?

What I found is that the FDA classification for polystyrene covers it's inclusion in foods due to migration from containers, not as a direct food additive. So that's why I'm asking for an example where food would have polystyrene as a food additive. So far what I've seen suggests that it wouldn't be used for that which would then negate the study you've cited as evidence for your hypothesis.
ForestDweller wrote:This is specifically about 50-nanometer polystyrene carboxylated particles that are commercially available as food additive. That is what was tested, not swabs or rubs of a coffee cup or food container.

How do you know that they are commercially available as a food additive?

The article actually says, "The researchers used commercially available, 50-nanometer polystyrene carboxylated particles that are generally considered safe for human consumption." That's not the same as being a food additive though, is it? What foods are these particles used in?

I've searched for any reference to "polystyrene carboxylated particles" being used in or as an additive to food and I can't find anything. I find lots of other references to scientific supply catalogs so it is true that they are commercially available, but it doesn't appear that they are used in foods.

I could be wrong though. I eagerly await any evidence suggesting it is used as a food additive.
ForestDweller wrote:The study does more to support my hypothesis than detract from it.

Does it though?

If polystyrene nanoparticles are not ever added to food, then the study doesn't support your hypothesis at all. In fact, now that it appears you either intended to deceive us by presenting the study or you didn't fully understand its implications. I'd say your position is substantially undermined as a result.

If you don't mind, perhaps you could explain how this study does more to support your hypothesis than detract from it. That would be great, thanks.

User avatar
ForestDweller
Poster
Posts: 231
Joined: Wed Feb 01, 2012 1:17 pm
Location: Rockshore, New Hampshire

Re: Organic food makes Harriet Hall's top 10 - Really?

Postby ForestDweller » Mon Feb 20, 2012 8:46 pm

Blacksamwell wrote:
ForestDweller wrote:I would have to see evidence suggesting that polystyrene is infused into all food it comes into contact with, I was not aware of that.

What about evidence that polystyrene nanoparticles are used as a food additive? Do you need evidence that this happens too?

What I found is that the FDA classification for polystyrene covers it's inclusion in foods due to migration from containers, not as a direct food additive. So that's why I'm asking for an example where food would have polystyrene as a food additive. So far what I've seen suggests that it wouldn't be used for that which would then negate the study you've cited as evidence for your hypothesis.
ForestDweller wrote:This is specifically about 50-nanometer polystyrene carboxylated particles that are commercially available as food additive. That is what was tested, not swabs or rubs of a coffee cup or food container.

How do you know that they are commercially available as a food additive?

The article actually says, "The researchers used commercially available, 50-nanometer polystyrene carboxylated particles that are generally considered safe for human consumption." That's not the same as being a food additive though, is it? What foods are these particles used in?

I've searched for any reference to "polystyrene carboxylated particles" being used in or as an additive to food and I can't find anything. I find lots of other references to scientific supply catalogs so it is true that they are commercially available, but it doesn't appear that they are used in foods.

I could be wrong though. I eagerly await any evidence suggesting it is used as a food additive.
ForestDweller wrote:The study does more to support my hypothesis than detract from it.

Does it though?

If polystyrene nanoparticles are not ever added to food, then the study doesn't support your hypothesis at all. In fact, now that it appears you either intended to deceive us by presenting the study or you didn't fully understand its implications. I'd say your position is substantially undermined as a result.

If you don't mind, perhaps you could explain how this study does more to support your hypothesis than detract from it. That would be great, thanks.


The article actually, really states:

"A research collaboration led by Michael Shuler, the Samuel B. Eckert Professor of Chemical Engineering and the James and Marsha McCormick Chair of Biomedical Engineering, studied how large doses of polystyrene nanoparticles -- a common, FDA-approved material found in substances from food additives to vitamins -- affected how well chickens absorbed iron, an essential nutrient, into their cells."

So you see that it refers to "...material found in substances from food additives to vitamins..." This from the Cornell link below:

http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/Feb ... rmful.html

I will get back to your question as to what foods is this stuff actually in. We can I hope see though that the researchers clearly believed that 50-nanometer polystyrene carboxylated particles are available and readily used as food additive and in vitamins. If this were not the case, I doubt they would have stated it - but I don't mind looking into that further.

In your 2nd to last paragraph you seem to state that in fact I've set out to deceive, either by presenting this study or by not fully understanding its' implications. While I confess I definitely do NOT understand all of its' implications, I would submit that nobody else does, either. Could be a load of crap. In fact. It's just one study.

I think it readily evident that the study more supports than detracts from my "hypothesis," though I would be happy to repeat myself. First though, I would like to track down more substantial evidence as to what foods contain these additive particles, and present that, if I can.

User avatar
Blacksamwell
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1951
Joined: Tue Nov 03, 2009 3:21 am
Custom Title: Buckfutter
Location: Columbia, Missouri, U.S.A.

Re: Organic food makes Harriet Hall's top 10 - Really?

Postby Blacksamwell » Mon Feb 20, 2012 9:08 pm

ForestDweller wrote:The article actually, really states:

"A research collaboration led by Michael Shuler, the Samuel B. Eckert Professor of Chemical Engineering and the James and Marsha McCormick Chair of Biomedical Engineering, studied how large doses of polystyrene nanoparticles -- a common, FDA-approved material found in substances from food additives to vitamins -- affected how well chickens absorbed iron, an essential nutrient, into their cells."

So you see that it refers to "...material found in substances from food additives to vitamins..." This from the Cornell link below:

http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/Feb ... rmful.html

Right, I saw that. The text we're quoting is from Anne Ju who wrote the article in the Cornell Chronicle. She wasn't involved with the research, was she?

As best I can tell, she wasn't quoting the researchers and it looks like she's made a mistake.

ForestDweller wrote:I will get back to your question as to what foods is this stuff actually in. We can I hope see though that the researchers clearly believed that 50-nanometer polystyrene carboxylated particles are available and readily used as food additive and in vitamins. If this were not the case, I doubt they would have stated it - but I don't mind looking into that further.

Well, we just established that the researchers didn't state it. Anne Ju did.

If you scan the full article you'll find the researchers never said anything close to the "a common, FDA-approved material found in substances from food additives to vitamins" language. They do explain why they chose that particle to experiment with and at no point are its availability or use as a food additive mentioned. They state...

The polystyrene nanoparticles used in this study (particle characterization shown in Table 1) were chosen as a model particle to demonstrate that our in vitro and in vivo experimental systems can be used for evaluating the subtle effects of nanoparticle consumption.

ForestDweller wrote:In your 2nd to last paragraph you seem to state that in fact I've set out to deceive, either by presenting this study or by not fully understanding its' implications. While I confess I definitely do NOT understand all of its' implications, I would submit that nobody else does, either. Could be a load of crap. In fact. It's just one study.

Please let me clarify. I stated that you appear to have either set out to deceive, OR you don't understand. I've never stated and do not believe that you've set out to deceive by not understanding. (Not that I really understand what that would entail.)
ForestDweller wrote:I think it readily evident that the study more supports than detracts from my "hypothesis," though I would be happy to repeat myself.

I, for one, do not find it readily evident. Please explain how a study about massive doses of a substance that's not added to food demonstrates that non-organic food is better than organic food.
ForestDweller wrote:First though, I would like to track down more substantial evidence as to what foods contain these additive particles, and present that, if I can.

By all means please do.

Of course, wouldn't that have been a prudent step to make prior to presenting your claim about the article supporting your hypothesis?

User avatar
ForestDweller
Poster
Posts: 231
Joined: Wed Feb 01, 2012 1:17 pm
Location: Rockshore, New Hampshire

Re: Organic food makes Harriet Hall's top 10 - Really?

Postby ForestDweller » Mon Feb 20, 2012 10:21 pm

Blacksamwell wrote:Please let me clarify. I stated that you appear to have either set out to deceive, OR you don't understand. I've never stated and do not believe that you've set out to deceive by not understanding. (Not that I really understand what that would entail.)
ForestDweller wrote:I think it readily evident that the study more supports than detracts from my "hypothesis," though I would be happy to repeat myself.

I, for one, do not find it readily evident. Please explain how a study about massive doses of a substance that's not added to food demonstrates that non-organic food is better than organic food.
ForestDweller wrote:First though, I would like to track down more substantial evidence as to what foods contain these additive particles, and present that, if I can.

By all means please do.

Of course, wouldn't that have been a prudent step to make prior to presenting your claim about the article supporting your hypothesis?

As far as prudent steps go, I could go to any length that I might require. In this case I went as far as I did. I did not claim that the article supported my hypothesis, I claimed that the study did. The common understanding of plastics as food additives, I did not set out to prove that point as it was already presumed in the study - that is, the article that referenced the study. As well as, in the study itself.

About your statement "a substance that's not added to food" - it will be interesting to see how long that presumption of yours, that this compound is not added to food, holds up. Your criticism of my evidence, or its' application toward my loosely termed hypothesis, is itself based in presumptions, such as your presumption that non-food plastic additives are not added to food. Such as your presumption that the quantities of the test substance are beyond expectations of practical exposure and therefore not relevant.

User avatar
ForestDweller
Poster
Posts: 231
Joined: Wed Feb 01, 2012 1:17 pm
Location: Rockshore, New Hampshire

Re: Organic food makes Harriet Hall's top 10 - Really?

Postby ForestDweller » Tue Feb 21, 2012 12:22 am

Some brand names - Fluoresbrite® yellow-green and plain polystyrene, carboxylated and non-ionized 50 nm. These study particles were acquired from Polysciences, Inc. (Warrington, Pennsylvania). They also got particles from Sigma Aldrich (St. Louis, MO), PerkinElmer (Wellesley, MA), and others. They all have links but without a chemist or industry insider the info is tough to interpret.

Non-food additive particles are used in chewing gum, cheese, as coating on raw fruits & vegetables, as a defoamer in food (& assumedly, defoaming in commercial food processing). Non-food additive particles are also used as flavor and as color additive.

I expect that they are also used anywhere else that commercial food processing finds them handy, though from a regulatory perspective this is STRICTLY CONTROLLED with such RESPONSIBILITY-COMPELLING, SELF-LIMITING terminology as "in an amount not to exceed good manufacturing practice".

Links divulging specific use of polystyrene nanoparticles in brand formulations of specific processed foods, I have not located - these formulations likely being protected by "trade secret".

Some links, just to get us on the road of acceptance as to non-food additives being in food in the first place. There's plenty more out there though, and more food types, vitamins for instance, and then there's cosmetics.

Plastic - get it on the food!
http://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/21/172/260

General food additive guideline
http://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/21/172/5

Chewing gum base
http://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/21/172/615

Synthetic flavorings
http://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/21/172/515

Pizza - for best flavor, cook until wax is melted.
http://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/21/172/230

I think that there is enough here to suggest that there's plastic in the food. The non-organic food, that is. I hope that we can now accept that I am not trying to deceive the hive mind of the skeptic collective.

I am up to something, though. That's for sure. I think that this stuff is worth stumbling through and sorting out. Thanks for the thoughts Blacksamwell.

There is a certain amount of risk management that goes along with choosing the foods that we eat. Or, on the other hand, one can forego risk management altogether, and assume that if it's on the supermarket shelf it must be good enough to eat, and that's that, end of story. Who cares what's in it! I don't look at it that way.

The study that I referenced, is but a small suggestion that, down the road and with further confirming study, we might see evidence of adverse health effects in humans, directly caused by additives to the non-organic food supply that have gone unchallenged. 50 nanometers, that's about the size of a virus and there is not enough science on how these nanoparticles affect us. If nothing else, it is an illustration as to just how little we know about what is in the foods that we commonly eat, or what goes on behind the scenes before it gets to us. In terms of risk management though, one can avoid the question entirely by eating organic. A potential risk avoided, reduces a potential risk, to a defined non-issue. I should think a skeptic could accept that.

User avatar
Blacksamwell
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1951
Joined: Tue Nov 03, 2009 3:21 am
Custom Title: Buckfutter
Location: Columbia, Missouri, U.S.A.

Re: Organic food makes Harriet Hall's top 10 - Really?

Postby Blacksamwell » Tue Feb 21, 2012 1:30 am

ForestDweller wrote:I did not claim that the article supported my hypothesis, I claimed that the study did.

Are you certain? Because I believe you've been quoting the article about the study.
ForestDweller wrote:The common understanding of plastics as food additives, I did not set out to prove that point as it was already presumed in the study - that is, the article that referenced the study. As well as, in the study itself.

I've read the study paper, but maybe I'm just missing where they made this point. Would you mind please quoting the passage where the study authors make this apparent? Thanks.
ForestDweller wrote:About your statement "a substance that's not added to food" - it will be interesting to see how long that presumption of yours, that this compound is not added to food, holds up.

Indeed. Did the study authors say where and how it is used in food? As best I can tell they chose it because it works as a model for other nanoparticles. Did I just miss the part where they show how it is in foods?
ForestDweller wrote:Your criticism of my evidence, or its' application toward my loosely termed hypothesis, is itself based in presumptions, such as your presumption that non-food plastic additives are not added to food.

Where did I make that presumption? Did I?
ForestDweller wrote:Such as your presumption that the quantities of the test substance are beyond expectations of practical exposure and therefore not relevant.

Isn't that what the study researchers mean by "acute" and/or "chronic"? Had they been talking about exposures that one would expect to receive when eating normal fair I'd expect to see terms like "typical" or "baseline". But then again, if it isn't a food additive at all then there may not be anything typical or baseline about the exposure, right?


Return to “SKEPTIC Magazine: Letters & Discussions”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest