Problems : bad distribution, malnutrition, obesity, waste and pesticides

Why not to waste is important to fight hunger 

Benefits of organic food for the environment and for your health

Every day, the world produces enough food to feed the entire planet’s population, however hunger kills one person every 3.5 seconds for not having access to it. According to the United Nations World Report on Hunger 2006, malnutrition affects estimated 854 million people in the world. The document reveals that 300 million children feel hunger in the world and 25 thousand people die from malnutrition or hunger-related diseases every day.

On the other hand, also of much concern, there are more than 1 billion adults who are overweight and 300 million with obesity, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Obesity is a risk factor for cardiovascular problems, diabetes, hypertension and certain types of cancer.
In addition to sedentary habits, children, adolescents and adults are bombarded by commercials of low-nutrition food with excess of sugar, salt, calories, saturated fat (especially of animal origin) and trans fat.
National figures on food habits (IBGE) show elevated consumption of sugar, fat and salt, but low consumption of fruit and vegetables. Obesity has been growing faster in the lower income population.

Saturated fat raises bad cholesterol levels.
Trans fat, in addition to raising bad cholesterol levels (LDL), reduces HDL, the “good” cholesterol, and increases the presence of adipose tissue in the abdomen.
Trans fat is very commonly used to enhance consistence and increase valid dates of industrialized food.
It is a specific kind of fat formed in hydrogenation process. It can be found in biscuits, chips, ice creams, pies, cakes, among other industrialized products.
By reading food labels, you can verify which products are rich in trans fat. It is recommended the consumption of no more than 2 grams of trans fat a day, the equivalent to about a table spoon of margarine.
To learn more, visit the website .

Brazil is one of the leading food producers in the planet. But the country annually wastes R$ 12 billion in food, enough to feed 30 million destitute people. The program Fome Zero of the Lula’s government is addressed to 44 million people.

Nearly 44% of the planted food is lost during production, distribution and sale : 20% at the harvesting, 8% in transportation and storage, 15% in industrialization and 1% in the retail. With an additional loss of 20% in the food preparation and consumption, losses reach 64% in the whole chain, according to Veja magazine issue number 1749.
By avoiding waste, there will be more food available and prices will be lower for all. It is the law of free market.

An important initiative against waste is the Mesa Brasil SESC, a program on sustainable nutritional and food safety that redistributes food that is still good for consumption but is exceeding or has no commercial value. The program is a bridge that picks up where there is excess and sends to where it is missing, contributing to reduce the abysm of social inequality in the country. CEAGESP also maintains a program to send food to social institutions.

Eating less meat is a way to contribute to nature and reduce hunger.
The production of animal protein requires much more soil, water and energy than the production of grains and other vegetables.
Cattle raising is also the main responsible for deforestation in Brazil. 
The production of pork and poultry consumes a large portion of the country’s production of grains. About 70% of the world production of corn is used to feed animals. According to Embrapa, in 2004, the consumption of pork totaled 26 million heads in Brazil.
Pork raising, very common in the southern region of Brazil, is considered a very polluting activity. A pig produces as much as 8 times more residues than human beings. The careless discharge of non-treated residues in rivers, lakes and soil degrades the environment. 

The use of pesticides and fertilizers is already one of the main causes of water contamination in Brazil, second only to the discharge of domestic sewage.
In 2005, Brazil used 365.5 thousand tons of pesticides, reaching the amount of US$ 4 billion, according to SINDAG (Brazilian Association of the Industry of Agriculture Defensive Products).
When buying an apple, for instance, it is impossible to know the amount of pesticides it received.
The intense use of chemical products to produce food affects the air, soil, water, animals and people.
Pesticides can progressively intoxicate consumers and affect the health of rural workers who are not always adequately protected to handle such toxic agents. 
In case of doubt, the Brazilian population can call the Anvisa’s intoxication dial-up service. The number is 0800-722-6001.

Transgenic is a laboratory genetically-modified organism that received genes from any other living creature (vegetal or animal), inserted into their genetic code to obtain specific characteristics. For instance : a seed is modified to become tolerant (resistant) to a herbicide. Therefore, the biotechnology company sells the patented seed (producers pay royalties) and sells the pesticide as well.

Soja Milho

It is believed that transgenic seeds can cause food allergies and reduce or nullify the effect of antibiotics in our body, in addition to other unknown consequences for human health in the long run.
The resistance to pesticides can lead to increased application doses in plantations.
Greenpeace is against the use of transgenic products in human and animal food. The NGO maintains that outcomes are unpredictable, uncontrollable and unnecessary. Greenpeace has a Consumer’s Guide in their website for information on products.

According to the Principle of Precaution, when an activity represents a threat to the environment or the human health, precaution measures are to be taken, even if cause-and-effect relations are not fully scientifically established. After all, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

The main transgenic seeds planted worldwide are : soy beans (61%), corn (23%), cotton (11%) and canola (5%).
Most Europeans refuse transgenic products (Eurobarometro research) and, therefore, most German rural producers reject transgenic seeds.
Insects, birds and even wind can carry pollen out of transgenic plants and, therefore, contaminate neighboring conventional plants, sometimes located at a large distance. Contamination can also happen through the common use of equipment for moving and storing, or even in commerce. Due to the evident technical difficulty to protect conventional plants from transgenic contamination (coexistence), many regions and European Union countries have been declared Transgenic-Free Zones by their authorities. Such a precaution protects the health of consumers, the environment and is an enormous competitive edge in the international market.
Learn more on transgenic (watch the video "Invasoras Resistentes" in Globo Rural Jan 14, 2007). Visit the website .

Transgenic food (grains, oils, milk and meat from transgenic-fed animals...) must be marketed with an identification label in order to guarantee the consumer’s right of choice. This is the minimum that we can expect from government authorities in addition to clear information to the population. There are some campaigns to free Brazil from transgenic.

Organic products are cultivated without the use of chemical fertilizers or pesticides.
Organic production techniques are intended for soil and water conservation and pollution reduction.
According to Instituto Biodinâmico (IBC), an internationally-recognized Brazilian certifier institution, the Brazilian organic production grows at a rate of 30% a year and currently uses an area of 6.5 million hectares of land, making Brazil the world second in the production of organics, especially due to the sustainable extraction of chestnuts, acai palms, peach palms, latex, fruit and other tropical forest species, especially from the Amazon. About 75% of the local production of organics is for export, especially to Europe, USA and Japan. Soy beans, coffee and sugar are the leading exported products. In the internal market, the most common products are vegetables, followed by coffee, sugar, juices, honey, jellies, beans, cereals, dairy products, candies, teas and medicinal herbs.

At least 80% of the certified projects in Brazil belong to small family rural producers (around 20 thousand producers). Associations and cooperatives of small producers have been growing and make the organic agriculture feasible in many regions keeping population in rural areas. Most families eat and sell their production.

Organic products prevent health problems caused by the ingestion of toxic chemicals.
They protect water quality, soil fertility, wildlife, and they are more nutritious.
By including organic products in your shop list you encourage the production and help make them cheaper in the long run.
Just for clarification, hydroponics (production method in water) is not organic for soluble chemical fertilizers are used.
The certification logo is the consumer’s guarantee when acquiring organic products totally free of chemical residues.
The organic crop system respects the laws of nature, the growing seasons and all the agricultural management is based on the conservation of natural resources, besides respecting all workers’ rights.


Learn more : Associação de Agricultura Orgânica.

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