Pure Genius

What's in store for the U.S. if we don't change the way our food is grown?

Posting in Food

Here are seven food safety, agriculture and nutrition predictions for 2010 and beyond.

Last month, the Boulder-based Organic Center, which focuses on the science of organic food and farming, released a list of seven food safety, agriculture and nutrition predictions for this year. In a press release, the center voiced its concern for the state of the food industry:

“Despite the hopeful and symbolic gesture of planting an organic garden at the White House and the First Lady's ongoing efforts throughout 2009 to promote more healthy diets amongst children, the year ended with little progress on important domestic policy issues affecting food safety and quality, agriculture and nutrition.”

Without action to address problems associated with how food is grown and processed, the center predicts the following will become (or remain) a reality:

1. An increase in the number of children facing developmental issues including autism, ADHD, birth defects and allergies. Just 1 percent of all pesticides are responsible for virtually all pesticide-related developmental risks from exposure in the diet.
2. An increase in the number of Americans who are obese, diabetic, or both. In order to address the obesity and diabetes epidemics in the U.S., farm program spending must shift away from subsidizing high-fat foods to supporting healthier fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and dairy products.
3. A decrease in the efficacy of life-saving antibiotics. There are now several strains of bacteria that are essentially untreatable in humans, and more will follow without major changes in how antibiotics are used on farms.
4. An increase in disease linked to inflammation. Nutrient-dense foods can help elderly people fight disease, aches and pains linked to inflammation while also promoting brain health.
5. An increase in the spread of 'super weeds.' Genetically engineered, herbicide-tolerant crops have increased herbicide use by over 380 million pounds since 1996, with 46 percent of the total increase in 2007 and 2008.
6. The continued decline of the honey bees. Five seed treatment insecticides are known to undermine bee immune systems and the ability of bees to find their way back to the hive.
7. More global warming in the absence of changes in farm and conservation programs.

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Melanie D.G. Kaplan

Contributing Editor

Melanie D.G. Kaplan is a Washington, D.C.- based journalist. She is a regular contributor to The Washington Post and National Parks Magazine. Her website is www.melaniedgkaplan.com. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure