Chemicals-modern demons

Syeda Zartashia Azmat
IIUI Islamabad

In recent years, the world has witnessed a booming number of food produced by chemicals. They are drastically changing the way food is produced. It is apparent that food additives have a profound influence on personal lives; however, not all of the effects have been positive. To begin with, food additives have absolutely increased the speed of food production. According to a research, almost five billion food-products are produced annually, which seems that no-one will either have suffered from starvation or died form hunger by 10 years as well as the food will be cheaper. People will, therefore, be able to buy any kind they need.

On the other hand, the opponents claim that the additives have caused many health problems, for instance, nowadays, many children have afflicted with hyperactivity by the additives, and scientists remarked that the high intake might cause cancer, because of the increase of the mutant cells. Certain preservatives, including sulphates and sodium benzoate, may cause adverse reactions in a small percentage of the population. Sulphates can cause potentially deadly allergic reactions in sensitive individuals, including rashes, low blood pressure, diarrhea, flushing, abdominal pain, asthmatic reactions and anaphylactic shock. Sodium benzoate, also called benzoic acid, is used in acidic foods to keep microorganisms from growing.

In sensitive individuals, it can cause asthma, hives and other allergic reactions. Although sodium benzoate is usually considered safe for people who aren’t sensitive to it, when combined with ascorbic acid in acidic foods it can produce benzene, which may slightly increase your risk for leukemia and other types of cancer, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest. Nitrates and nitrites, which are often used to preserve cured meats, such as lunch meat, may also increase your risk for certain types of cancers, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Some other preservatives have been linked to a potential increase in cancer risk. Every year, approximately 1.1 billion pounds of pesticides are used  in agriculture. Due to the imprecise nature of application on high-volume crops, an estimated 99.9 percent of these pesticides are also introduced into the environment.

Daniel Walton, a graduate of the Department of Crop Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, explains, “Producers have to cover a huge area with pesticides to ensure that every surface of every plant is protected, but only a tiny amount of the chemical is needed to kill any given insect. The rest of the pesticide then gets leached into the environment or is left as residues on food.” Some of the public health concerns include acute poisonings and illnesses, cancer and other chronic neurological, respiratory, reproductive and cognitive effects. And what about the environmental cost?

Pesticides destroy beneficial natural predators and parasites in both natural and agricultural ecosystems, causing major outbreaks of secondary pests.To conclude, food additives have both pros and cons to our society they have protected us and still from many dangers.Yet, they have prevailed badly on our health, mentally and physically.To avoid these problems, people’s awareness about the disadvantages should be improved.

Many of the synthetic chemicals involved in packaging and storing the food we eat can leak into it, potentially harming our long-term health, say environmental scientists in a paper published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. Although some of these chemicals are regulated, people come into contact with them almost every day through packaged or processed foods. The authors of the commentary note that exposure is low, but it is chronic, as many of us eat such foods throughout our lives.

Food contact materials (FCMs) are usually made of plastic or contain a synthetic material that is in direct contact with foods. This includes coating, laminate in beverage cartons or the closures of glass jars. Too little is known about the long-term impact of chronic exposure to these FCMs, say the authors, who add: “These facts may be of relevance to scientists interested in the developmental origins of health and disease hypothesis (DOHaD), life-course effects of in utero and childhood environmental exposures, plasticity, epigenetics and related processes.”

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