How harmful can a few ppms of heavy metals in food be?


The short answer is – very! Fatal, and literally so.
A recent finding correlating the use of chemical fertilizers in agriculture and rise in non-communicable diseases was announced earlier last month. Post that, I have seen more than a dozen popular news publications present some alarming statistics. For instance, a stated fact in these pertains to how 1.7 million people died in one year due to non-communicable diseases whose root cause is heavy metal presence is food!
I can think of one simple solution to this issue – replace the use of chemical fertilizers with organic options.

Rise in non-communicable diseases, as a result of using chemical fertilizers.
Dr Pamela J Owens, in her book Poisoned, has elaborated extensively on the main threats to human health from heavy metals are associated with exposure to lead, cadmium, mercury and arsenic and other less common metals. She has almost dedicated an entire chapter that educates us about how Cadmium causes many other health disorders such as cancer, pulmonary disorders, peripheral artery disease, skeletal disorders, and developmental issues among children.

Cadmium, Arsenic, Chromium, Lead, Mercury, and Nickel have been founded in high concentrations in soil traces of agricultural lands by a Finnish research. While it is known that even low exposure to any of these chemicals would cause prolonged death, high amounts are undeniably perilous. The concentration of these chemicals has been found in people that have further led to rising in pre-diabetic conditions, type 2 diabetes, breast cancer, kidney damage, and cardiovascular disorders.
While we can discuss multiple chapters about this problem, I am more concerned about the solution. In fact, I am excited to share that shifting to organic farming can break this vicious cycle of the food chain that we are hooked to today.

Organic Food brings equilibrium and sustainability
The primary nutrients used in organic farming are vitamin C and different mineral contents which enrich a consumer’s health. And, the secondary nutrients are metabolites and phytonutrients which increase the immunity of the plants. They constitute the fertilizers in different combinations without affecting the health of people, soil and the crop, both in the short and long-run.

Apart from the use of pesticides, the sidelined aspect is the approved use of more than 500 different food additives in non-organic foods. This is non-permissible in an organic process of crop cultivation. It has also been confirmed over an investigation that organic agriculture brings back nutrients to the soil. For instance, a gram of healthy soil can contain some 600 million microorganisms and tens of thousands of different species of bacteria and fungi (including mycorrhizae), as well as organic and inorganic matter, air, water and water vapour that undergo complex, far from fully understood, chemical reactions.

This implies that organic food not only keeps you healthy but also enriches your physical disposition and creates a more human-friendly environment to live in.


Raj Seelam

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