Dirt! and Pesticides

Dirt! had a number of valid points, especially about man-made environmental issues caused from not respecting soil. While the documentary’s main point wasn’t about promoting organic food, it did raise the issue, and I’m always a little wary of anything that’s over-enthusiastic about organic food. The documentary suggests that growing food organically is better because organic farms don’t use pesticide, however, from what I’ve read on the subject, it appears organic farms do in fact use pesticides.

According to the Scientific American, the US Organic Standards approve of over twenty different chemicals for use in pesticide and fungicide commonly used by industrial organic farms. In other words, in order to be “certified organic” it’s not required that your farming practices don’t include use of pesticide.

pesticide-spray besemer

Image from environmentalhealthnews.org

Of course not all pesticides are synthetic. Organic pesticides do exist, yet, The Scientific American points out, it’s feared that organic pesticides are even worse than what’s usually used because, “not only were the synthetic pesticides more effective means of control, the organic pesticides were more ecologically damaging, including causing higher mortality in other, non-target species like the predators”.

There was a comment made in Dirt about how humans are not so different from the pests we use pesticide on, and therefore, if we use pesticide on our crops it will ultimately be unhealthy for us. Yet organic food – even if came from a farm that used no pesticides whatsoever – would not be without its own health risks. A study in Minnesota found that food grown from organic farms had “higher levels of potential pathogens,” with an 8 percent increase in E. Coli in organic produce compared to conventional produce. And only food samples taken from organic farms were found to contain Salmonella, as organic farms use manure instead of artificial fertilizers.

Somewhere on the internet there is a cartoon that pokes fun at the idea that “all-natural” is better. “Shark bites and poison ivy are all natural too,” it illustrates. I’m sure there is more we could do to protect the environment and encourage better farming practices, but I suspect it’s not as simple as buying and eating organic.

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3 thoughts on “Dirt! and Pesticides

  1. How scary… I have a friend who’s all for organic lately, and always reprimands me on certain fruits that seem to be worse than others when it comes to the pesticides they use. I thought it would be a better idea to just get the organic fruits anyway, along with his advice. I didn’t know too much about the subject. This article sure is prompting me to go out and research more about organic pesticide use. I had no idea!

  2. Man, whenever I read/see stuff about pesticide use it freaks me out. The fact that organic pesticides are worse than the typical kind makes me question what the definition of “organic” even is. It’s become a sort of catch-all for anything that’s supposed to be 100% natural, but because it’s used all the time it’s lost any meaning at all. Kind of sad. :\

  3. I hate it when I see pesticides being used on grasses near lakes and ponds. It hurts the animals that lives in water as well as the bugs that are needed for certain animals survival. We do have the ability to wipe out the entire insect population with the pesticides, but we won’t do it because we know that if that population is extinct, it could mean a huge shift in our ecosystem.

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