Well, yes, isn’t this interesting?

The number of chemicals on supermarket vegetables has increased by up to 17 fold in 40 years, data shows, as the organic food industry and scientists have warned that consumers are exposed to a “toxic cocktail” of pesticides.

Figures released for the first time by the Soil Association, which certifies organic food, show the number of toxic chemicals found in onions, leeks, wheat and potatoes has been steadily increasing since the 1960s.

We have indeed been increasing yields etc since then with more science.

This is despite industry data showing that the volume of pesticides found on supermarket vegetables has halved since the 1990s.

That’s also a fairly important finding, isn’t it?

So, what is really happening here? The Soil Association has got tired of us all pointing out that there seems to be no evidence at all of any harm coming from the level of pesticides found on supermarket veg. Thus, to big up organic farming they’ve decided to make up this stuff about a cocktail of them.

There isn’t anything else going on here.

28 comments on “Well, yes, isn’t this interesting?

  1. “Toxic chemicals”. Really? This organisation has form for chronic bullshitting, I vaguely remember something from a year or two back.

  2. I think if the soli association had a study to hand showing eating organic increases life expectancy by x years then they’d be touting that rather than a cocktail of individually safe chemicals might be harmful.

  3. Its just the usual SA marketing mechanism – keep banging on about ‘toxic chemicals’ in conventionally produced food, regardless of facts, its the only way they can create doubt in consumers minds and make the premium that organic food costs viable. They only have one stick, in the absence of any hard proof that organic produce is any better for you, or even better tasting, they can only attack the opposition (conventional farming) to differentiate themselves.

    It does annoy me intensely that one small part of the farming industry devotes so much of its time to just attacking the other part as some sort of evil monolith devoted to poisoning the population (who get fatter and fatter, and live longer and longer, so Big Chemical’s plot to kill us all isn’t working very well so far).

    If you want good tasting food, then the best option is to find people who process their own production into food products, regardless of whether they are organic or not, and meat that is grass fed and reared slowly, preferably from native breeds. It will be more expensive, but it will taste a lot better. The high yielding production systems and the industrially processed products made from them will be far blander by comparison (but they won’t poison you……despite what the SA say).

  4. Over the last 40 years the technology to detect chemicals in trace amounts has significantly improved – my guess is by at least 17 fold but probably much much higher than that.

  5. Well, it kills you in sufficient volumes.

    About the only organic I’m happy to pay for is milk. That is probably due to the EU rules about mass milk production rather than any benefit of organic. Artisan produced non-organic would probably be as good or better (but is not immediately available to me.)

  6. Toxicity is in the dose.

    ‘Figures released for the first time by the Soil Association, which certifies organic food, show the number of toxic chemicals found in onions, leeks, wheat and potatoes has been steadily increasing since the 1960s.’

    Pure junk science.

    ‘Onions and leeks have seen the biggest rise in toxic chemicals applied to them with the number rising 17 fold from 1.8 in 1966 to 32.6 in 2015, the data showed.’

    Using decimal points shows they have a sense of humor. Should they provide actual specific data, it would be actionable. If the chemicals were toxic in this use, we’d all be dead.

    ‘A long term study of roundup in rats found that the lowest dosage, that was 75,000 times below the recommended dose of glyphosate’

    Not the Roundup shit again.

    ‘Keith Tyrell, spokesman at the Pesticide Action Network UK, said: “There is a huge lack of transparency there and it undermines the public trust in the regulatory system.” “It should be up to the pesticide companies to prove that the pesticide does not cause harm, not up to the researchers to show that there is harm.”’

    Precautionary Principle. Jeeze. They never met a chemical they like.

  7. I’m thinking of doing some organic food growing. Hydroponics.
    Not for the ‘organic’ element, more for the working indoors with no heavy lifting or bending down element – and food from picking to eating being under an hour.

  8. I like Kate’s tag over at Small Dead Animals:

    Organic Is The Latin Word For “Grown In Pig Shit”

    Sums it up nicely.

  9. Onions and leeks have seen the biggest rise in toxic chemicals applied to them with the number rising 17 fold from 1.8 in 1966 to 32.6 in 2015, the data showed.

    Well that would make sense in the UK whose shores the cursèd allium leaf miner only reached in 2002.

    Barring slug pellets (of course) my vegetables are grown without the use of chemicals but this isn’t a religion for me: it’s just easy to do, rotating sensibly over a manageable plot with high fertility. It’s labour intensive but enjoyable – others prefer golf, I believe.

  10. All fruit and veg is saturated with pesticides. If the ruddy plants didn’t synthesise pesticides in their cells they’d not survive the struggle for existence, would they?

  11. dearieme: I remember reading of some organic outfit that had bred celery to be insect-resistant. It was not exactly a roaring success; in fact it was so insect-resistant that it gave the pickers contact dermatitis.

  12. I bet the Fair Tax Mark positively drool at the comparative success of the SA in its market penetration.

  13. The MB

    Same as my veggie plot. Close to organic due to laziness.

    We compost all vegetable kitchen waste, garden cuttings (and cold-calling salesmen, nah, only joking) also horse manure and very occasionally artificial fertilizers.

    Rotation to control pests and trying to stop Mrs. bilbaoboy planting stuff without sufficient space.

    Some oily/detergent mixes for bugs and copper whatever for the mold on tomatoes (which is a waste of time ‘cos it gets them every bleeding year anyway!).

    But I buy in the supermarket without any compunction. Yes, am looking more at where the meat comes from. Means the cheapest is out but,…

  14. “I buy in the supermarket without any compunction”: we buy little meat at the supermarket, guinea fowl, continental hams, and pork pies being the main exceptions. But we’re blessed with good local butchers. We don’t have a good local fishmonger, alas.

  15. +1

    If you want good tasting food fruit & vegetables, then the best option is to
    grow them in your garden. Downside is the glut followed by drought problem.

  16. @Jim, November 21, 2017 at 11:03 am

    +1

    If you want good tasting food fruit & vegetables, then the best option is to

    grow them in your garden. Downside is the glut followed by drought problem.

  17. @bilbaoboy

    I’m not sure you can even buy “copper whatever” over here any more. It used to be known as Bordeaux Mixture, I think, and was a solution of copper sulphate used as a fungicide against mildew and botrytis -but I never knew it to be used on toms to protect against blight.

    Up here in southern UK, blight normally gets my outdoor tomatoes before they crop though 2017 worked very well. Where you are, I’m surpirised that you have problems and perhaps your neighbours could give you tips? It’s important to keep the plants moist with plenty of air circulating so avoid close planting and keep away from spuds if you grow them.

    Mrs Bison is only allowed into the patch to make caustic comments about how she could use the space to better effect to which I pay close attention but alas to little effect.

    But hang on, this is Timmy’s blog and not GQT – sorry all!

  18. Tim Worstall says ‘to big up organic farming’ the Soil Association decided ‘to make up this stuff about a cocktail’ of pesticides. This week’s Conference at the Royal Society of Medicine heard presentations from scientists about recent (peer reviewed, published) scientific research. Papers cited include: Pettis, et al; 2013; PLOS ONE, 8 (7) 70182 ; and Traynor et al; Scientific Reports, 2016; 6: 33207 DOI: 10.1038/srep33207, which suggest that mixtures or ‘cocktails’ of pesticides present at well below the official regulatory level (the MRL) pose a risk, and that eating a succession of pesticides at well below the MRL can also pose previously unidentified risks (Ashauer et al; Environ. Sci. Technol., 2017, 51 (5), pp 3084–3092). No MRLs are set for mixtures or succession consumption, nor given the potential diversity of mixtures and successions, could they be. Given this, a scientist at the conference was asked what people should do, and he said the only way to minimise pesticide intake was to eat organic food.
    Peter Melchett, Policy Director, Soil Association and organic farmer.

  19. Pingback: Well done to My Lord Melchett here, Oh very well done indeed My Lord. | Tim Worstall

  20. “No MRLs are set for mixtures or succession consumption, nor given the potential diversity of mixtures and successions, could they be. Given this, a scientist at the conference was asked what people should do, and he said the only way to minimise pesticide intake was to eat organic food.”

    So tell me, what MRLs are set for natural pesticides, as described in Gold and Ames?

  21. Most natural pesticides do not appear in food, so no MRLs. One, copper (mentioned above), is mainly used by non-organic farmers as a soil conditioner (chalky soils tend to be deficient in copper for crops like sugar beet), and again don’t show up in food.
    Tim – any science you can quote to refute my arguments?
    Peter

  22. ‘This week’s Conference at the Royal Society of Medicine heard presentations from scientists about recent (peer reviewed, published) scientific research.’

    OOO, peer reviewed and published!!!

    MOST peer reviewed and published studies are junk science. You give us a piece of shit argumentum ad verecundiam.

  23. “Most natural pesticides do not appear in food, so no MRLs.”

    What?!! No, natural pesticides *do* appear in foods. You clearly didn’t read the Gold and Ames paper. Go and do so, then come back when you know what I’m talking about.

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