No, organic does not mean pesticide free. Organic farmers use a variety of pesticides on their crops, but these are pesticides derived from natural sources. It's a mistake, though, to think that natural = safe or even that natural = more safe than synthetic. There's no basis for thinking that something that's natural is safe or safer than synthetic. Lots of synthetic products have saved countless lives. Lots of natural things are deadly (think of natural things like asbestos, snake venom/other venoms, certain mushrooms that will kill you, poisonous plants like oleander, arsenic, tetrodotoxin, etc.). There's also no evidence at all that shows that genetically modified foods (GMOs) cause anyone any harm at all.
Edited to add: I think that a lot of people confuse selective breeding with genetic modification. They are very different things. Also, the OP asked about grapples... Grapples are not made using either selective breeding or genetic modification. They are made by infusing grape flavor into the apple (a form of food processing).
For the record, organic does NOT mean pesticide free, it just means you can't use synthetic pesticides. This paper from UC Berkeley explains the situation pretty well.
Fitness Minutes: (28,060)
523 3/12/14 2:07 P
If it is labeled certified organic it does not use GMO foods. But something labeled as having no GMO's is not necessarily organic. This is the issue certified organic farms have with things being labeled non-GMO because they believe it will confuse people who are seeking organic, non-GMO foods. Just like big food companies jumping in on the "natural" labeling, they are jumping on the non-GMO bandwagon for its marketing sake. Certified organic foods have always been non-GMO and pesticide free. Companies slap on organic, natural and non-GMO labels whenever they can get away with it. Subway touts a "healthy" multi-grain bread option in which the first ingredient is in fact enriched flour and the 8th ingredient after salt, sugar and fat etc. is multi-grain flours. So the marketing can be so deceptive.
Edited by: FLORADITA at: 3/12/2014 (14:08)
Fitness Minutes: (2,915)
12 3/12/14 12:00 P
Becky, I guess I would like more information on how to tell if a food is genetically modified. Are they labeled as such? Are there foods that tend to almost always be a GMO? Are there foods that are rarely genetically altered? What is the definition of a GMO, and what are the regulations? What are some credible sources/studies, if any, that have been done on their safety? What would be the pros and cons of eating/producing non-GMO's? Example: From what I understand a Grapple is a cross between a grape, and an apple. If I am not mistaken, most varieties of our apples have been changed from the previous types that we had 40 years ago? Is that the same thing as being a GMO, or something totally different?
I think some of my confusion was by not understanding what "organic" really means; however, I now better understand the definition of organic from a few SPARKPEOPLE articles: "Why Go Organic?", "The Loopholes of Food Labeling", and a great blog that defines all the different types of labels associated with organic foods called "Natural vs Organic". I had just assumed all organic food was non-GMO, which I now know is not the case.
Thanks for your help! I am not necessarily going to stop eating GMO's, but I would just like to better understand what they are, and what I am eating. I appreciate your expertise. :)
Fitness Minutes: (2,915)
12 3/12/14 11:44 A
From things I've read on food labeling - catchy terms like "organic" and "cage-free" and "all natural" don't always mean much.
I believe there are some guidelines, but (for instance) a "cage free" chicken just has to *have access* to an outside environment. Since they're fed inside their barns, and their "yards" are little more than open, uninteresting spaces... they don't spend much time out there, and certainly don't get the bugs and other pickings they'd get from a *real* "pasture" or yard.
Likewise, I believe there are some guidelines regarding "organic"... I think it has to do with how the food is grown - no chemical or hormonal pesticides or other top-dressings... but again, those are fairly loose terms. There is a standard, but how closely it's adhered to, I don't know.
"Non-GMO" means the plant hasn't been genetically altered. It doesn't mean it hasn't had its genetic heritage fiddled with by natural methods - it just hasn't been taken into a lab and gene-spliced with some freaky combination of things we'd never have dreamt of. These days, most (if not all) of our produce has been modified in some way or another, and not all those ways are bad things. We do have improved quality relative to taste and yield. Where *I* see the problems are when they get into the molecular level, "selecting" (ie, modifying) for disease resistance -- plants which produce their own "natural" version of pesticides, etc. Plants do this anyway, which is the basis for some of the warnings you can read about some types of plants not being all that good for us because those defense mechanisms work on us, too. Super-high-yield crops and those which have a considerable world market share seem to be the most GMO types: corn, soy, etc. I've never seen any "non-GMO" statements about wheat, but I strongly suspect that most grains are GMO-modified. We sell the stuff all over the world. It's a commodity that we're invested to protect at (nearly) any cost.
I don't know the official terminology for all the various labeling. Hopefully Becky has that info somewhere and can enlighten us. It would be good to know, although I think we're all - as consumers - pretty much at the mercy of the producers, no matter whether we know the phraseology or not.
My only solution, and a weak one at that, is to buy from local growers who are using heirloom or at least non-GMO seeds/starters, and growing them in as close to their natural conditions as possible. And not next to the big field of GMO crops next door!
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