Food Poisoning

The risk of biological contamination, both in the field and postharvest, may affect food quality and safety. However, there is no evidence linking organically produced foods to an increased risk of food poisoning. A recent survey gave organic food a clean bill of health and confirmed expectations that organic methods, such as careful composting of manure, minimize risks of food contamination [26]. Spadaro and his coworkers [27] found no significant difference between conventional and organic apple juices for patulin and other fungal contaminants. Nonetheless, as we have already pointed out, mycotoxins and bacteria in food and feed pose a constant threat to the health of consumers; these problems are most likely to arise during the transport and/or storage of the foods [28].

Are Genetically Engineered Foods Safe to Eat?

There is currently a harsh debate about the safety of genetically engineered (GE) foods for human consumption [2, 26]. In a recent review, Borsari and his collaborators highlighted major concerns regarding the use of GE crops [6]. Landigran and Benbrook made a robust case against GE foods because of the increasing use of herbicides and their possible carcinogenicity [29]. Nevertheless, the reluctance of the USDA to label GE foods is not helping a growing segment of society to accept these foods willingly, and this skepticism has sparked even more interest in organically produced foods. It is speculated that food companies do not want consumers to learn how much genetic manipulation has been occurring already to foods available at supermarkets; indeed, ingredients from GE crops can be found in a broad variety of foods derived from plants and animals. For example, many processed foods containing corn starch, corn meal, corn syrup, glucose, dextrose, canola oil, cotton seed, or soy oil, soy flour, or soy lecithin are probably derived from GE crops. This includes foods containing sugar from sugar beets since 95% of sugar beet grown in the USA is now Roundup Ready, genetically modified [30]. As the majority of livestock are fed with similar products, it is legitimate to infer that more foods, such as meat, dairy products, and eggs, could be affected by GE technologies. Hopefully, the techniques to introduce genes from compatible species, or to modify target gene expression and the type of modification, will improve so as to better mimic natural variability and selection, thus opening different perspectives and possibly safer solutions for food production. Such developments might even be acceptable for organic farming. But for now GE products and their derivatives are prohibited from organic foods.

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