Feb 24, 2021

Quality food has undergone a drastic change in the past few decades. People have been giving emphasis on the end product only while ignoring the process and method of production which deserve equal attention. The use of chemical fertilisers is predominant in farming. Though the purpose is to increase production, it actually hardens the soil, decreases fertility, pollutes land, air and water to such an extent that they pose a threat to environment and human health. According to World Health Organisation, some of the older, cheaper pesticides can remain for years in soil and water. These chemicals have been banned from agricultural use in developed countries but they are still used in many developing countries. The US Agricultural Health Study assessed the link between pesticide exposure and cancer. In 2010, a review of the study 28 publications found 19 out of 32 pesticides were associated with at least one type of cancer.

Mother nature has a holistic ability of repairing and recovering the body from several diseases. But unfortunately, meddling with nature for selfish needs is paving way towards destruction of natural nutrients.

Fresh food obtained directly from nature without the use of any chemicals, are rich in nutrients with healing properties of all times. Not realising this fact, people are drifting away from natural food and getting closer to the food based on chemical-based farming, thus inviting health troubles. The use of pesticides is detrimental to farmers, consumers and to the environment. Given the rate of pesticide poisoning in the country, the Government of India has planned to phase out 27 highly hazardous farm chemicals.  The proposed ban includes 10 from the categories mentioned as extremely hazardous in the World Health Organization toxicity ratings.

What does chemical fertiliser do to the crop?

Most fertilisers contain nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K). Nitrogen is one of the key nutrients that plants need to grow. Though there is lot of nitrogen around, it is present in the 78 per cent of air that we breath, plants get it only from soil. There are two natural ways nitrogen gets into soil without human intervention. One is lightning which generates enough energy to split nitrogen in the atmosphere which ends up in the soil. Secondly the microorganisms which use nitrogen as nutrient. However, despite this, nitrogen levels can still be low and that is where fertilisers containing nitrogen are used in order to increase production. That is not the end of the story. From the fertilisers used, only 50 per cent of nitrogen is used by crops and the rest is lost. The lost nitrogen is washed away in groundwater, lakes, rivers leading to various health issues and environment problems.

While it is believed that using chemical fertilisers help plants grow faster, it is not free from harmful effects in the long run. Continuous use of chemical fertilisers not only lead to greenhouse gas emissions but also makes plants weak, leaving them no time to develop a good root growth and strong stems which are essential for nutritious food. Excess use of fertilisers often leads to reduction in the crop yield and the build-up of phosphorous stunts plant growth and hardens the soil.  High dose of alkaline fertilisers (with Ph levels greater than 7) can cause soil degradation, that turns fertile farms into barren wastelands.

Most of these fertilisers have salt as the key feature and this is harmful to agriculture as salts are harmful for plants and soil. It depletes the land taking away the nutrients and minerals from fertile land. Also, the fertilisers kill soil friendly natural microbes like insects, bacteria which are helpful for healthy soil.  Studies have found that water bodies like rivers, canals, lakes and ponds were contaminated with high amounts of DDT and other pesticides. Pesticide and chemical run farms have contaminated soil and water turning few states into cancer hotspots.

Impact on health

The purpose of fertilisers is to increase the soil fertility for plant growth. But these chemical fertilisers are derived from inorganic material. So, one of the big problems is that they seep through the soil leading to contamination of water. While the environmental issues are large, the immediate effect is on human health. Using fertilisers might yield increased crops but with nil or very little nutrients. What is worse is that they might increase the chances of developing cancer and might even affect foetal brain development. A study conducted by the University of Wisconsin in 1994, suggests that concentrations of nitrate and pesticide in groundwater may compromise the nervous, endocrine and immune system of young children and developing foetuses. Pesticides are also known to irritate the skin and damage the respiratory system in the humans.

Organic farming system is considered the best and reliable alternative to remedy these ill effects and also preserve and protect the Earth. If every farmer turned to organic farming, harmful pesticides can be eliminated from the environment, paving way for availability of toxic free and nutritious food for a healthy and happy life.

While we emphasise on nutrition, it is also important to know what goes into the production of the food that we eat. Only the right food choice will lead to a healthy body and mind. The environment and health friendly organic food is a wise and safe choice that assures health, taste, nutrition and sustains in the long run. With people getting more health conscious, organic products have mushroomed up everywhere. It is important to check the labels thoroughly for standard organic certifications before buying the product.

Several organic companies like Nature's box are working in harmony with nature to provide Chemical free and naturally nutrient rich food with high medicinal properties, to protect the current and future generations.

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