President’s Cancer Panel: Organic foods reduce environmental risks
GREENFIELD, Mass. (May 6, 2010)—. The President’s Cancer Panel Report released today exhorts consumers to choose food grown without pesticides or chemical fertilizers , antibiotics, and growth hormones to help decrease their exposure to environmental chemicals that can increase their risk of contracting cancer. Organic products avoid the use of these chemicals.
“Exposure to pesticides can be decreased by choosing, to the extent possible, food grown without pesticides or chemical fertilizers…Similarly, exposure to antibiotics, growth hormones, and toxic run-off from livestock feed lots can be minimized by eating free-range meat raised without these medications,” according to the landmark report, “Reducing Environmental Cancer Risk: What We Can Do Now,” submitted to President Obama by Dr. LaSalle Leffall, Jr., an oncologist and professor of surgery at Howard University, and Dr. Margaret L. Kripke, an immunologist at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.
“Organic production and processing is the only system that uses certification and inspection to verify that these chemicals are not used on the farm all the way to our dinner tables,” said Christine Bushway, Executive Director of the Organic Trade Association (OTA).
Organic production is based on a system of farming without the use of toxic and persistent pesticides (herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides) and synthetic fertilizers. Organically produced foods also must be produced without the use of antibiotics, synthetic hormones, genetic engineering and other excluded practices, sewage sludge, or irradiation. Organic foods are minimally processed without artificial ingredients, preservatives, or irradiation to maintain the integrity of the food. In addition, animal confinement in feedlots is prohibited.
“Consumers should know that organic foods have the least chemicals applied in their production and the least residues in the final products. Thus, those seeking to minimize their exposure to these chemicals and follow the recommendations of the President’s Cancer Panel, can look for the USDA Organic label wherever they shop,” said Bushway.
“The American people—even before they are born—are bombarded continually with myriad combinations of these dangerous exposures,” the panel wrote in a letter to President Obama. It added. “The Panel urges you most strongly to use the power of your office to remove the carcinogens and other toxins from our food, water, and air that needlessly increase health care costs, cripple our Nation’s productivity, and devastate American lives.”
It added, “Many known or suspected carcinogens first identified through studies of industrial and agricultural occupational exposures have since found their way into soil, air, water and numerous consumer products…Some of these chemicals have been found in maternal blood, placental tissue, and breast milk samples from pregnant women and mothers who recently gave birth. Thus, chemical contaminants are being passed on to the next generation, both prenatally and during breastfeeding.”
“OTA is gratified to see a prestigious scientific panel recognize what the organic farmers and the organic community have realized about environmental health and organic agriculture for decades, and we applaud them for taking on this critical issue,” Bushway added.
The full report is available online at http://deainfo.nci.nih.gov/advisory/pcp/pcp08-09rpt/PCP_Report_08-09_508.pdf.
The Organic Trade Association (OTA) is the membership-based business association for organic agriculture and products in North America. Its members include growers, shippers, processors, certifiers, farmers’ associations, distributors, importers, exporters, consultants, retailers and others. OTA’s Board of Directors is democratically elected by its members. OTA’s mission is to promote and protect the growth of organic trade to benefit the environment, farmers, the public and the economy (www.ota.com).