Fearing Food book cover

Fearing Food

Risk, Health and Environment

Environmental and consumer activists have for a long time blamed pesticides, fertilizers and other aspects of intensive farming for causing environmental degradation and human disease. Yet, as the authors in this book show, intensive farming has enabled growth in food production at a rate greater than population growth, thereby ensuring that people are better fed than ever before, whilst simultaneously limiting the effect of farming on the environment.The authors debunk numerous pervasive myths, including:Myth: Pesticides are bad for the environment and bad for human healthFact: Synthetic pesticides enable the production of large quantities of fresh fruit and vegetables, which means that people are better protected against cancer. In addition, the synthetic pesticides themselves are often less toxic than natural pesticides. Overall, synthetic pesticides present a net gain in health terms.Myth: Antibiotic resistance in animals is spreading to humans.Fact: The use of antibiotics in young animals keeps meat prices low and does not materially contribute to antibiotic resistance in humans.Myth: Nitrate fertilizers are a threat to human health.Fact: Nitrate fertilizers are probably beneficial to human health.Myth: Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are bad for the environment and bad for our health.Fact: Many environmental problems associated with agriculture can be reduced by using GMOs, which have the potential to improve yields and quality which simultaneously reducing associated inputs, such as fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides. Commercially produced GM foodcrops have no known impacts on human health and future GM foodcrops are likely to have health benefits (enabling such things as low-fat chips/french fries and non-allergenic peanuts).Myth: Instances of food poisoning would be reduced if we had more regulations.Fact: Instances of food poisoning in the UK may have been exacerbated by over-cautious government regulation.Myth: Subsidies are needed to order to ensure that food and fish are produced in environmentally sound ways.Fact: Subsidies to fisheries and farming have caused widespread environmental degradation.Myth: Packaging and transporting food is environmentally unfriendly.Fact: Packaging enhances the shelf life of products and reduces wastage during transport. Transporting food allows society to take advantage of different environmental and socio-economic conditions that exist in different places.

Audience
Food safety professionals, environmental health officers, government and regulatory authorities, health and safety professionals and bodies, food producers/manufacturers and consumer groups; lawyers

Paperback, 302 pages

Published: August 1999

Imprint: Butterworth Heinemann

ISBN: 978-0-7506-4222-4

Reviews

  • 'Professor Bruce Ames, a top cancer expert in the US, points out that the amount of cancer-causing chemicals ingested by a person in the form of pesticide residues in a whole year is equivalent to those in a single cup of coffee.' The Daily Mirror, September 15, 2001

Contents

  • Introduction; Section 1: But is it true? The fallacy of the organic Utopia; Pollution, pesticides and cancer misconceptions; Are dietary nitrates a threat to human health? Farmyard Follies: the end of antibiotics on the farm? Genetic modification in context and perspective; Packing and Food: Interconnections and surprises. Section 2: If it's not part of the solution, it's part of the problem: Dietary disarray: Guidelines with a pinch of salt; The perversity of agricultural subsidies; Politics, policies, poisoning and food scares; Five famine fallacies; European regulation of genetically odified organisms. Section 3: So what is the solution? Community markets to control agricultural non-point source pollution; Meeting global food needs: The environmental trade-offs between increasing land conversion and land productivity.

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