Organic food – hype or hope? | DW Documentary

[Music] anyone who opts for organic food wants to lead a healthier life but can bio be better with conventional farming taking place all around it it's a bit like with a smoker and a nonsmoker one person lights up while someone else is still eating and they suffer the organic foods business is lucrative and fraudulent labeling is not uncommon and Tess is a lot of sense in having a test procedure to show that an egg really is a bio product sinful so wouldn't it be better to have only bio produce let's keep karna gluten-free food doesn't exist it's merely a question of the dosage but the situation has to change we have to act before we have a disaster [Music] in Germany fennel is harvested in autumn Stefan Palmer has been growing it for many years for baby tea but the organic farmer has a problem the wind blows pesticides used in conventional farming onto his fields strict limits apply to baby food in fact the EU plans to introduce these stringent limits for all organic foods it would mean bio farmers like Stefan Palmer could no longer sell their produce as organic since they'll get to be where the use of environmental toxins and pesticides is concerned we totally approve of being told by Brussels for instance that we need to meet lower limits we would like to do that but it's not our fault if our land is contaminated by all these chemicals with such limits in place we would be held responsible if that really could put an end to eco farming gun's clone a baby food manufacturer found residues of a certain pesticide in fennel from Stefan Palmer conventional farmers spray it in autumn as soon as they have sown their winter seed in doing so they contaminate fields a long distance away the active agent it seems can be carried by the wind for weeks now Stefan Palma harvests his fennel earlier than he used to for a year now we've gone to the trouble of threshing our fennel before it has reached maturity that's why we have to spread it quickly and dry it in this moist state as fast as we can the fennel gets warm within two hours in the past we used to let it dry normally like grain and tip it into our normal drying plant the disadvantage of that process however is that it would take another three or four weeks and in that time the herbicide in the air would accumulate more and more in the fennel and make it unmarketable the chemical which wafts across the fields in autumn is called pendimethalin and it can travel for many kilometres Stefan Palmas farm lies in the middle of a huge organic farming community where no one as has been proved uses the herbicide Rudolph Fergal from Brandenburg's office for health and the environment is aware of the problem using cabbage leaf samples he wants to find out how long the agent can be detected in the environment this isn't fennel means it's a phenomenon that didn't really attract too much attention in the past it was probably underestimated in recent years however we've received numerous indications countless new test results that call for an urgent reassessment of the way certain agents are permitted during the middle sula soon for the Lima home throughout the winter Fergal examines cabbage leaves for pendimethalin content we know very little about the ecological impact however the fact is that we still keep finding the agent and crop samples so naturally they can cause serious problems with regard to the high quality standards in other words the dietary stipulations that organic produce has to meet pesticides used in conventional farming spread and become a problem for the entire organic sector if the EU introduces stricter limits for residues this will prevent many products from being sold as organic and at higher prices even though they have been farmed organically this is why Stefan is calling for a general ban on certain pesticides Yamazaki flavored a few four weeks ago we harvested part of our crop prematurely the rest has been left standing so we'll have to see what the pesticide values look like this is our problem we'll have to see how these agents can be kept out of the environment and prevent it from accumulating because sales of pesticides are rising considerably year by year it was their stock environmental engineer Frieda Hoffmann is a specialist in error analysis by examining residues in the bark of trees he can reconstruct the path taken by herbicides he has been commissioned by the state of Brandenburg to carry out a study for cost reasons the German government stopped the nationwide monitoring of volatilized pesticides back in 2003 we now have no idea of the aerial distribution of herbicides and pesticides on a national level we have however provided fairly clear answers on a regional basis we have shown that the spread of the herbicide pendimethalin is not restricted to the immediate area to a few hundred meters but occurs on a 10 kilometer scale this also confirms published reports on the issue the question is can organic food still be produced anywhere in Germany Hoffmann has found 11 pesticides in the bark 2 of them in alarming concentrations not only pendimethalin as expected but also a weed killer called pro salt carb conventional pesticides pose a real problem for bio farmers some rethinking has to be done even if it means some people suffering a bit financially but somehow we just have to face reality each year conventional farmers spread around 9 kilograms of pesticides per hectare these weed and fungus killers make life easier for them without these chemical agents the argument goes the world's population could not be fed [Music] the pesticide industry has a turnover of billions but at the expense of the general public the chemicals are not only found in food when it rains they seep into the soil and end up in the groundwater the best elicits here soil samples are being taken to a depth of 15 metres in the past water companies focused primarily on nitrates occurring as a result of over fertilization dustin's nitrates are already a major problem and we now know that pesticides could also become one we're keeping a close watch on this we take regular samples to see whether levels are increasing from year to year strike in La Fleur garden the main problem is that many pesticides do not decompose once sprayed they remain in the environment for years this is legalized environmental pollution on a grand scale and it also threatens our drinking water filtering out pesticides is extremely time consuming and costly and this purification is paid for by everyone who uses water we do not assume that farmers are at fault when these agents appear in the groundwater farmers must be able to have confidence that highly effective active agents purchased at considerable expense will have the required protecting affect in the topsoil but then break down and no longer appear in the groundwater as water suppliers we expect the chemical industry of the 21st century to manufacture active agents that have an excellent effect and are affordable but no longer appear in groundwater because they've already decomposed like everywhere else in Germany here at the weekly market in Munster organic produce is in the minority only 9% of Germany's farmers grow bio produce their produce costs up to 30% more than the produce from conventional competitors the price difference can be a temptation to engage in fraudulent labeling we have already heard of conventional farmers selling their eggs as organic produce customers have come to us and complained that the eggs lacked the appropriate stance so go back and exchange them we say we reported that incident and it caused a real stir cases like that make me really angry because I always think that at some point people might stop believing us in 2015 the sales of organic foods in Germany rose by 11 percent by 1.

3 percent in Austria and by 5.

2 percent in Switzerland is organic healthier I think it is but I don't know in my experience it is I've been buying bio for over 20 years so I believe in it sometimes I also buy conventional products because you can't always get hold of bio produce but I noticed the difference at once it's not for me costs more and in the end there's no difference conventional farmers like the whole can brings from the Muenster region doubt whether organic is always better I too would be delighted to know that one sort was particularly good and would enable me to lead a healthy life and lift to a ripe old age my 25 years of professional experience tells me that both the local farmer as a guarantor of quality many people regard locally grown produce and Trust as more important than an organic label also because buyers cannot recognize the supposed benefits of organic farming on the actual product frick Switzerland for more than 40 years now scientists here at the Research Institute for organic farming have been analyzing the differences between logical and conventional farming today they advise the European Union they also make recommendations regarding optimum organic farming they were the first to prove that organically grown apples contain more antioxidants than conventional apples antioxidants boost our immune system but the Institute's director Whois niggly warns against equating organic produce with a healthy diet this is Africa Z necessary from a scientific point of view our diet is extremely important music oops a healthy diet contains a high proportion of fruits and vegetables a smaller proportion of meat and few fat and products that are rich in sugar the smart teachers whom their narrow mouth naturally if we eat lots of fruits and vegetables the primary advantage of organic produce is that there are no pesticide residues Robinson Bay and the proportion of the antioxidants is higher [Music] Whois niggly is not only interested in possible differences between individual products he sees the big advantage of the overall concept behind organic farming to be sustainability [Music] peel employees organic farming is the type of Agriculture we will have in a hundred years time organic farming has made tremendous progress nature is a cornucopia of the possible solutions we can also apply in agro ecosystems in research we also experiment with this cornucopia with which nature tackles problems two to ten lucemon so we do not admit we try to develop solutions in such a way that farmers can use them so our source won't weaken the city laundry at the hip in newts and garden in order for sustainability to succeed persuasion is called for in vienna the institute's austrian branch is working on winning over even more consumers to bio products especially where meat and sausages are concerned consumers are still reluctant to purchase bio products because prices are much higher reinhard Gathol has invited consumers to one of his special organic excursions in an industrial area and dispels the illusion that organic means the same as rural times have changed in the past people were closely linked to farming everyone had someone in the family who ran a farm and they could experience their how food was produced today especially in cities like vienna where we are now people have no idea whatsoever about food production in austria black pudding is a popular speciality whether it has to be organic is a different matter the organic product is free of glutamate and contains other spices organic farming is extremely cost intensive meat and blood come from organic pigs which had more space to move around in were fed fewer antibiotics or non at all and were slaughtered under less stressful conditions Organic black pudding is prepared differently from conventional varieties vine Hardcastle uses the excursion into the meat processing section to explain and dispel prejudices organic production is a tough business and farmers are under great economic pressure conventional farmers focus on big profits while organic farmers work in harmony with nature so why can't the two systems benefit from each other Carlo Lyford from Germany heads an experimental farm run by Newcastle University in Britain he is looking for possible overlaps between conventional and ecological farming but it's a complex field and surprising results are not uncommon combining organic fertilizer with pesticides from conventional farming for example even increases the residue of the weed killers in field crops vehicle we can determine the interactions between mineral fertilisers and pesticides if you change to totally organic fertilizers but without abandoning pesticides a few interesting facts come to light for instances when an organic fertilizer is used the pesticide content of the produce increases so in order to enjoy all the benefits of a switch to organic farming the changeover has to be comprehensive in 2009 the organic farming sector was shocked by a report from Britain's Food Standards Agency it found no relevant difference between organic and conventional products life had doubted this and reacted with a counter study of us minor what my studies revealed has to be proven to others so the entire meta-analysis had to be done all over again meet an illusion of Malmo it took some of my colleagues not me personally two years and they worked continuously on it for more than eight hours a day continued in me after a month Lyford team evaluated studies from all over the world they found that organic fruit vegetables and cereals contain more antioxidants which boost the body's immune system and far fewer pesticides conventional foods are more often contaminated with heavy metals Lyford saw his findings confirmed condiment as a consumer I started buying organic produce because of my concern about pesticides as an agronomist I have never found a pesticide which was introduced at some time or other and did not arouse any health concerns 10 years later Abbadon India trustee minister that was always one of the reasons why I spend more money on organic produce megadose govision it simply contains fewer pesticide residues which tended to in games early in 2016 life at published a second study it confirms the differences in quality between conventional and organic meat and dairy produce the Eco products contain around 50% more omega-3 fatty acids to help gone to sit here it depends mainly on what animals are fed Organic Standards stipulate that cattle pigs and so on must have a certain quantity of raw fodder and their diet a meal and for ruminants that is very high to put it simply we know that a cow produces better milk when it is fed grass than when it is fed grain this has been a parent for a long time but it's in the Bessemer jazz from Adeem it could slide in yet this the Swiss will tell you that if dairy cattle are not allowed to graze but instead are given concentrated feed their milk cannot be used for a hard cheese like typical Emmentaler defeated vin then consider merge feel hot kaiser and the same thing holds true for omega-3 fatty acids dim video Megha I fit Simone soon omega-3 fatty acids are said to provide a protection against arterial sclerosis so organic meat is healthier than meat which is produced conventionally it is all the more important therefore for consumers to be certain that a product labeled organic actually is organic especially where meat products are concerned the well-being of the animals is an important reason for consumers to buy organic produce but you can't tell just by looking at an egg whether or not the hen that laid it was happy checks carried out by yolk annoy and orphaned falker ELLs and hands are geared to ensuring that organic farmers are dear to buy off guidelines we do Nord it and check out all the documentation see our longing of our mana pencils and controls will be needed long after I've retired simply because it's not only about the entrant we monitored the entire process to make sure that everything takes place as stipulated in the regulations in the Franken housing facility near castle is run according to Organic guidelines folker elves and Hans begins his inspection in the open-air enclosure for 700 laying hens it's nice to see all the hens looking sprightly that's one reason why eco inspections are fun he's satisfied with the amount of space and the vegetation in the outside enclosure in the shed eles and Hans relies on his experience and his senses sweets from our GU it smells fine your nose tells you of course where you are but it is definitely a good smell can you pick one up so I can take a look at it anyone will do not even folker ELLs and Hans can tell if a hen is happy but he can judge whether farming conditions are causing the animals any suffering it's a bit dirty of course but I notice that when I press here the hen doesn't flinch if it hurt she'd be really annoyed that's always a sign that the litter is loose and not just today so the hens aren't walking in mush and that's important every organic farm has to be checked out at least once a year by an eco monitoring center the inspectors often turn up unannounced is the amount of fodder adequate for the number of hens did any diseases occur if so where antibiotics dispensed Johan owendorf compares receipts documentation and guidelines of everything tallies he's happy if people only focus on the end product without realizing the social benefits of organic farming climate protection groundwater protection nature protection and animal welfare there will of course be a problem nichd farnum's done ver – such a shock on dry and windy midsummer days Fields in schleswig-holstein are a hive of activity Martin Nutt Mesnick is harvesting his organic wheat he manages the Ritz our our state in schleswig-holstein [Music] it was purchased 17 years ago by entrepreneur Gunther filmin and converted to biodynamic agriculture driving over the field and knowing that something healthy is growing in it becomes more and more of a joy far better than holding a spray gun full of fungicide or pesticide and knowing that you're breathing in air that is unhealthy yields on organic fields are around 20% less than in conventional farming but can this difference be offset in other ways for his doctoral thesis lars bein at is comparing the greenhouse gases from organic and conventional farming the conventional farmer introduces nitrogen into the system in the form of mineral fertilizers especially after such fertilizing high emissions of nitrous oxide can be recorded in organic farming where mineral fertilizers are banned things are slightly different their Peaks are not so pronounced or are totally absent on a benefit of organic farming nitrous oxide is a greenhouse gas and about 300 times more harmful to the climate than carbon dioxide [Music] it is also because of such aspects that the sector would one day like to have a system which would provide absolute proof that a foodstuff really is organic or not a sanitarium would be great to have such a method because customers in our farm store do ask questions they would love to have proof that our produce is bio a test which would prove that bread was baked with organic wheat a possibility or just an illusion not for a laboratory in you Lee Marcus boner searches for traces which the two types of farming leave in animal fodder vegetables and grain one crucial difference is the use of fertilizer organic farming ops for organic plant remains and manure conventional farming for mineral fertilizer you know mineral fertilizer consists of nitrogen which plants need but mineral fertilizer has a totally different isotope signature from bio fertilizer for instance we can determine this with our measuring techniques and thus ascertain the origin organic or conventional farming ultimately this bio product also goes into fodder so an egg from a hen that has been eco reared and given bio fodder must also reveal this nitrogen isotope as long as the nitrogen isotopes have not been broken down Marcus Bona is able to determine their origin SK portal some products like milk pose a problem a cow is nothing other than a large bioreactor in other words we can no longer detect mineral fertilizer because the animal repeatedly changes these isotopes not diseases will be not modest but with many other foodstuffs his method allows Marcus Bona to determine what was used to fertilize livestock fodder or fruit and vegetables on its own though the choice of fertilizer says nothing about food quality be quiet you can argue at length about quality but you must always remember that a bio product is a sustainable product in other words we no longer over exploit nature on the contrary the soils our products growin will still be of use for the next 50 years seen in this light a bio product is most certainly a better product the bio experimental farm belonging to Kiel University is on the baltic near eka further the Lynde Hoff is run like any ordinary farm it has to cover all its cost through the sale of its produce Sabeena mousse is the farms manager along with 80 dairy cattle and seven sows she also keeps 100 hens in free-range husbandry animals kept ecologically can only be fed bio fodder comprised entirely of bio constituents furthermore they must always have outdoor access the lighting programs used in some conventional laying systems are inadmissible they are designed to enhance performance and give the birds the impression that it is summer all the time and that it never gets dark the ten must have an outdoor area of 4 square meters and 18 centimeters of perch space at its disposal Sabina moose sells her eggs for 40 cents each eggs from conventional production cost only half as much our hens lay less not a lot less but that's fine because the price per egg is a lot higher and it is certainly acceptable when you can market directly and keep all the profit moreover if you optimize your operations so that you don't work so much as in conventional farming – it is most definitely a worthwhile business but the good price for bio eggs is also an inducement to cheat I think it would be sensible to have a testing procedure for a something to prove that an egg has been produced ecologically consumers in retail outlets could then be given verification and know why they are paying more but could appropriate farming methods and fodder really be proved Varga ningún in the Netherlands is home to one of Europe's leading research facilities for food safety in the laboratories of the Rick Hilde Institute's food chemist Saskia van Groot is working on methods of distinguishing organic foods from those produced conventionally her a meme is to make fraudulent labeling impossible there are some people who may sell conventional products for organic products and to protect the farmers those that are involved in this organic business we have to make sure that there are fair practices and consumers are getting what they are paying for so that's why we need methods that can authenticate whether a product is organic or not Saskia van Groot places her faith in statistics she has analyzed the average composition of the yoke of an organic egg and amassed a vast amount of data her theory is that everything which influences an egg is noticeable in the yolk in the form of an analytical fingerprint the analytical fingerprint of finagling what try to separate the organic eggs from the conventional is based on the analysis of the yellow pigments and because we are looking at different yellow pigments we call that an analytical fingerprint and together with statistics with calculation matters we try to discriminate between the group of the organic eggs any conventional eggs because this pattern this fingerprint differs but for all the products that may be other characteristics one roots team collect data to determine the products fingerprint when chocolate melts in our mouth additives are released which give an initial indication of whether it contains conventional or organic cocoa outside to you the definition of organic may be different so also how an organic product looks like there's a lot of similarity it's also difficult to find for instance one mark or one compound or one aspect in which they differ so often you need multiple markers and if you compare those simultaneously you also need statistics so that makes it fairly complex no matter how great the differences between bio and conventional farming methods might be in the produce itself they are very small and not always to the advantage of the consumer the obligation to give laying hens nothing but organic fodder means that many bio egg producers have to buy in fodder yet only when food controls are carried out does it become apparent that a supplier has cheated frag Feldhausen heads the state office for food safety in mecklenburg-vorpommern even if there has been no fodder scandal his inspectors nearly always find eggs containing substances which should not enter our diet as a sawdust fury combustion processes result in dioxins being released into the atmosphere when it rains these airborne chemicals are deposited on the Earth's surface depending on the location dioxins can occur in certain quantities and be consumed for instance by hands and thus passed on to their eggs dioxins are soluble in fat so primarily they are present in the fatty components mainly in the yogurt ice and hops it in my daughter's eyes the quantities detected in controls are nearly always below the consumer protection limit set by the EU nevertheless the animal welfare concept pursued by the bio sector often leads to a loss of quality in eggs in the form of increased dioxin Diaby I'm off here in mecklenburg-vorpommern we have discovered a slight difference between conventional and biopharm eggs the dioxin content of bio eggs is about 30% however it is not quite clear why we suspect it is because the hands which has intended spent more time outdoors stand a greater chance of ingesting food from contaminated soil this contamination is then passed on to their eggs that's one possible explanation [Music] happy cattle on lush meadows Ireland seems to be a paradise for livestock owners especially conventional farmers along with Romania and the Netherlands Ireland is the EU nation with the smallest area of bio pastures bill O'Keefe too is an advocate of conventional farming the people are very want to have the best quality food one is that so we think we can create a bit of a niche around our clean green image and and the clean green reality really you know it's not just an image it is reality we're out here in March were grazing grass were producing high-quality milk and we think there's a there's a huge benefit to people if they consume those products and hopefully we can capitalize on that here in Ireland to the advantage is that the cows eat grass which is important for milk quality they are outside for more than 300 days a year to ensure that enough butter grows bill O'Keefe has to spread chemical fertilizer on his fields in spring and in autumn despite that here conventional is not synonymous with factory farming on average conventional Irish milk contains more omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants than organic milk in Germany the reason is the fodder organic farms in Germany are allowed to add concentrated feed and silage to enhance milk production with a detrimental effect on milk quality in other countries however like Austria fixed standards already exist for hay milk and meadow grazed milk they stipulate how much hay a cow's overall fodder is allowed to contain an ideal situation organic production cannot compete with [Music] I suppose if you enjoy your walk you'll never walk it in your life maybe but I enjoy doing it we do up to pretty long hours of claims it is manual work but it is enjoyable walk friend when everything is going well and the weather is good it's a very good job here the carving season on Bill O'Keefe's farm is from mid-january to late February two hundred and forty cows carve at the same time they then returned to the field and milk production if his vet advises it just like his father before him O'Keefe gives all his carbs antibiotics it doesn't stack up for this farm at the moment so we have no reason to go we don't feel obliged to farm Lannie differently and we we feel our system of farming is good enough to the environment as it is bill O'Keefe plans to increase the size of his herd his milk is in demand and the quality is good without an organic seal apples are usually grown as monocultures fungi and insects are a real problem for fruit farmers where pesticide contamination is concerned the apple scores badly copper a toxic heavy metal which stays in the soil forever is the controversial remedy of the organic sector conventional farmers also use it in addition they turn to various other pesticides in line with the motto the more the better in tandem with eleven Swedish universities the spat ox Institute near Stockholm is researching the risks from pesticides and other chemical compounds the findings are alarming more and more substances are being identified as affecting our hormone system many of these endocrine disruptors as they are known come from agriculture institute director ARCA bergman has been warning of these substances ever since 2012 EU has delayed the decisions very very much and we are in great need of having a number of chemicals regulated in relation to two endocrine-disrupting properties and of course we need to look into those many I just mentioned 1038 chemicals that are potentially EDC's and take decisions on them so it's really important that this gets in place and policy makers have a very important job to do initially ARCA Bergman's research team focused on plastic bottles foodstuffs and textile dyes but today they know that chemical active agents which affect our hormone system are found not only in products but also in the air we breathe and controlling them is a problem only in dust we have measured around 500 different chemicals and of course there is a possibility that some of these fits in into a receptor or interacting in the hormone in in some way and this is where we see an avalanche I would say of data on other chemicals and on other endpoints endocrine disruptors are suspected of being responsible for a whole range of disorders including obesity infertility and even cancer and Parkinson's disease the circulatory system transports them to every organ in the body the pituitary gland that produces hormones for metabolism growth and the formation of semen or egg cells endocrine disruptors affect not only the gland but also the hormones themselves researchers believe that the chemical substances inhibit the flow of information in the brain that they block the synapses and also kill individual information receivers in the nerve cells both disorders are symptoms of Alzheimer's disease is actually chemicals that can interfere with the hormone system in such a way that you you get unwanted or negative effects here and of course this has to be on whole animals or humans or Y lives so the experimental work is tremendously important in order to build a chain or do we see a defect in the lab do we see similar things in wildlife and can we see associations in humans between a disease and the exposure scientists are called upon to act professor Hartmut Tauber from the institute of organic farming in Kiel is looking for ways to bring organic and conventional farming closer together his studies have found approval throughout Europe in his view the inconsiderate use of pesticides is out of kilter with the times and we're talking about relics of the past we engaged in agricultural research and risk research back in 1975 in 1980 but we simply had no idea of the dangers that lurk this means that where pesticides are concerned today's generation of scientists and politicians must stringently apply the principle of preventive action indeed by just mine in a big mess and fours are aplenty Vilas to ensure that enough healthy foodstuffs can be produced in an eco-conscious and sustainable way then in the final analysis it will be the customer who decides these conventional farming does not result in poor quality it has been seen that animal welfare aspects also play a role as indirect quality characteristics for the consumer to and recommendations regarding animal welfare requirements in the conventional sector which are now also coming from various supermarket chains are moving ever closer to the standards that already exist in organic farming I think we must always focus on how optimum quality can be achieved in both systems creative events and easy [Music] you.

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