Sunday, July 17, 2011

Organic Safety

In a recent issue of the New Scientist (all my magazines are coming a few weeks late these days...) there was an essay about the safety of organic farming.  While the author (Dominic Dyer) seemed to be a food irradiation enthusiast, he raised two interesting issues about the safety of organic food.

First, he noted that there are increased E. coli and Salmonella risks from the natural, untreated compost used for organic farming.

Second, he noted that by not using fungicides, there could be an increased risk of poisonous molds in food.

His solution:  food irradiation.

The challenge of risk assessment is that you can never eliminate all risks and as soon as you eliminate the largest risk, the next largest risk is now the largest! 

Discussion Questions

Anyone have an opinion about this that they'd like to share?  How can we increase the safety of organic food?  Are the risks of these bacteria smaller than the benefits of avoiding toxic chemicals on our food?  How would we know?  How can we, as consumers, ensure/increase safety in our organic products?

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