DCD just tip of food safety iceberg
31 January 2013
DCD just tip of food safety iceberg
The discovery of DCD in milk is actually a minor food safety concern compared with other animal, human and environmental impacts from this country’s high level of synthetic fertiliser use, according to biological agriculture exponent, Phyllis Tichinin.
Fertiliser manufacturers, Ravensdown and Ballance Agri-Nutrients have voluntarily withdrawn DCD from their product ranges after traces of this cyanide-based plasticiser was found in milk. DCD is a nitrogen inhibitor and is applied to pastures to reduce the harmful environmental effects of, what biological advocates claim is, excessive urea fertiliser use.
However, for Ms Tichinin, DCD is “just the tip of the food and milk iceberg. There are many other chemicals that can be found in our foods that shouldn’t be there, it’s just that many are not tested for, or standards or limits haven’t been set, so food is declared ‘safe’.
“The reality is we should be working from the basis that nothing foreign should be in our food. We should be applying the Napoleonic Law for chemicals or contaminants, that is, they’re guilty until proven innocent.”
Ms Tichinin is behind the speaking tours that world authority on biological agriculture Dr Arden Andersen conducts in New Zealand and is a biological soils consultant to farmers around New Zealand. Dr Andersen is due back in the country mid-February for another round of biological farming and human health courses.
Dr Andersen asserts that “urea is the cocaine of agriculture” and through his two-day soils courses shows growers and farmers how it is possible to operate more productively and profitably without need for chemicals detrimental to the environment and human health.
“Essentially it is a message of hope. There are science-based ways to grow nutrient dense food that is truly healthy for us, profitable for farmers, and helps to restore water and air quality,” says Ms Tichinin.
Biological agriculture focuses on re-establishing mineral balance and enhancing beneficial microbiology in the soil and is applicable to all production sectors. The approach uses both conventional and organic farming methods and combines chemistry, physics, biology and microbiology, with the use of sound agricultural management practices.
These practices include a focus on calcium and trace element availability and supporting microbial diversity that leads to rapid increases in humus, reduced use of petrochemical inputs, and results in nutrient-dense food, all the while sequestering carbon in the soil for better water retention.
Approximately 200,000 hectares of land is currently farmed under biological principles in New Zealand and the interest and uptake of the approach is growing constantly.
Ms Tichinin says the dairy industry’s drive for intensification, urging annual percentage increases in production, had lead to a mindset of ‘grass growth at any cost’ resulting in a massive 600 percent plus increase in urea use on dairies nationwide in the last 20 years.
“High urea use means high nitrate, low sugar
grass, which results in cows with diarrhoea, mastitis,
elevated methane emissions, and high levels of nitrate in
the milk, says Ms Tichinin.
Along with the mastitis antibiotics used to prop up ailing cows on this deficient diet, continuous growth-promoting antibiotics like Rumensin are being used to speed animal weight gain.”
In addition, Ms Tichinin says American genetically modified distillers grain was increasingly used as a feed supplement in New Zealand and there was serious overseas concern with the animal and human health impacts of glyphosate residues and toxins in those grains.
“All of these serious issues that impact farmer profit and milk quality can be traced back to unbalanced fertilisation and excessive petrochemical inputs to farming. These problems can be reversed rapidly in a straight forward and scientific way through biological farming.
“We have to start taking human health and the health of our environment quite seriously. Consumers around the world do.”
Dr Arden Andersen, a world expert on biological agriculture will be conducting courses in New Zealand in February. Visit www.regonline.co.nz/arden2013