Pesticides used in organic farming?

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Pesticides used in organic farming?

Postby Lazy_eye » Fri Jun 11, 2010 6:40 pm

Ok, Mr. Naive here thought that when I go to the store and buy organic vegetables, I am getting something which was produced without the use of toxic pesticides. However, it appears this is not the case.

Pesticides can be used in organic farming as long as they are "natural" rather than "synthetic". But of course this distinction tells us nothing about whether the pesticides are actually harmful. Lots of things in nature are toxic to humans. And because some natural pesticides are not as efficient, we're faced with the possibility that organic farmers use them in massive quantities, thus endangering our health even more than is the case with the non-organic equivalents.

So here's my question: where can I get specific information about specific organic products and what pesticides were used?

Where can I find products which were not produced using any form of pesticide? Have any comparisons been done showing the relative dangers of different types of pesticides, whether synthetic or organic?

I'm willing to make the effort and choose organic products if they are actually beneficial, but it's a bit ridiculous to spend the extra money if they're just as toxic as the mass-production stuff, no?

Thoughts, pointers, resources appreciated.... and apologies for the undoubtedly high ignorance levels on display in what I've written above.

LE
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Re: Pesticides used in organic farming?

Postby Annapurna » Fri Jun 11, 2010 10:33 pm

Lazy_eye wrote:Ok, Mr. Naive here thought that when I go to the store and buy organic vegetables, I am getting something which was produced without the use of toxic pesticides. However, it appears this is not the case.

Pesticides can be used in organic farming as long as they are "natural" rather than "synthetic". But of course this distinction tells us nothing about whether the pesticides are actually harmful. Lots of things in nature are toxic to humans. And because some natural pesticides are not as efficient, we're faced with the possibility that organic farmers use them in massive quantities, thus endangering our health even more than is the case with the non-organic equivalents.

So here's my question: where can I get specific information about specific organic products and what pesticides were used?

Where can I find products which were not produced using any form of pesticide? Have any comparisons been done showing the relative dangers of different types of pesticides, whether synthetic or organic?

I'm willing to make the effort and choose organic products if they are actually beneficial, but it's a bit ridiculous to spend the extra money if they're just as toxic as the mass-production stuff, no?

Thoughts, pointers, resources appreciated.... and apologies for the undoubtedly high ignorance levels on display in what I've written above.

LE


Hello, Lazy eye,

as you say yourself, you don't know anything about organic gardening or farming, but I do and practice it, and can reassure you it's not toxic.

Pesticides can be used in organic farming as long as they are "natural" rather than "synthetic". But of course this distinction tells us nothing about whether the pesticides are actually harmful.


Oh, this distinction tells some people a lot!

Let's take pyrethrum.

The natural pyrethrum, gained from a plant with pretty yellow blossoms is used against plant lice.

Sprayed in the morning, it is completely broken down in the evening, by normal sunlight, by ultraviolet rays. Fruit and vegetables that were sprayed can be eaten the next day, without any residues left.

With synthetic pyrethrum it takes weeks, as it takes weeks for other chemical substances.

The danger here is, that fruit may ripen before those ~4 weeks are over, must be harvested, and not all of the toxins are gone.

The even worse case is, that a substance will break down, and fulfill the legal conditions, but into something more toxic than the original substance...

All this is possible with chemical, synthetic substances, but natural extracts from plants usually have very short active times, usually only a few hours, in which they kill through contact, like a brew from stinging nettles.

A fresh brew of those will kill lice within ~30 minutes, but is harmless for us. Just don't bathe in it.

All organic substances I know and work with work in this very short time frame, and are totally harmless for human beings, of course you shouldn't drink it, that would be silly.

But, and here comes a big 'but', most of those procedures become unnecessary in organic gardening/agriculture anyways.

Why?

Because the cultivation process is different from the mass production in the conventional cultivation.

1. In organic farming, plant types are chosen, which are so robust, they need little support from us, but may bring smaller and less fruit, but often tastier.

Smaller and less means they are not interesting for mass production, making profit through mass and weight, and through machines doing the work of wo/men.

So smaller harvests in mass production are uninteresting.

But, those strong and resilient plants need less protection, plus, they are very often not planted in mono-cultures, but together with other plants, which are natural repellents for certain diseases and insects.

All this requires more personal work for the farmer, with less machines. This causes a higher price, but healthier plants.

Then, the soil is cultivated with certain machines that don't negatively affect the microbial life in the soil but create better soil, with compost and natural fertilizers, so that the microbes are very active and bring dozens of minerals and trace substances into a chemical form which is easily absorbed by the plants and make them resilient.

Conventional machines and fertilizers often 'ruin' the soil, they exploit the fields, while organic farming carefully enriches the soil.

Those are just a few examples.

I haven't used any pesticides in ages, not even organic ones, because my garden is in perfect balance, meanwhile.

Strong plants, lots of animals which eat lice, such as bugs and birds, and a healthy soil bring me an abundance of flowers and fruit.

If it rains too much, mildew might come up.

I water and spray preventive mixes I make myself, teas with garlic, horsetail and crab apple, which usually helps.

There are lots of natural preventive sprays that are used in organic gardening and farming which aim at strengthening the plants natural resistance through perfect conditions so they won't get ill to begin with.

Most of those substances are herbs that help us humans too.

Horsetail is one of those substances, garlic too, to name a few.

I have acquired my knowledge and experience through reading books and 'doing it', and recommend you do too.

That said, please don't project any fears onto something you don't know and don't jump to conclusions, when you possess very little knowledge.

Best wishes, and ask if you want to know more.

PS:
The questions you asked above:

Google, and I'm sure Amazon will answer your questions.
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Re: Pesticides used in organic farming?

Postby Lazy_eye » Sat Jun 12, 2010 4:34 am

Thank you Anna! I was hoping to hear from someone who is well-informed about organic farming, and instead I got someone who actually does organic farming, which is even better!

I promise you I wasn't trying to generate fears about it; I'm just trying to get information. Organic products are becoming big business in the US lately, and even being turned into a form of mass production. I've been making a point to buy organic for the past couple of years, but it occured to me recently that I hadn't really investigated what the criteria and regulations are -- I was just being a lazy consumer and letting the "organic" label do the work for me. Unfortunately, in the kind of economy we're in, this isn't enough. We really have to do the homework.

So if I understand you correctly, the main difference between the natural and synthetic pesticides is that the former break down quickly and leave fewer residues -- plus they are less toxic to humans to begin with?

Is your farming just for you personally, or do you distribute your products? Are the procedures you describe typical for organic farms that sell to consumers, either through distributors or at farmer's markets? If I go to the organic supermarket and pick up some celery, will it have been produced in more or less the same way?

Namaste,
LE
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Re: Pesticides used in organic farming?

Postby Annapurna » Sat Jun 12, 2010 8:14 am

Hello, Lazyeye!

To answer your questions:

Is your farming just for you personally, or do you distribute your products?


I own a small/medium sized garden, and produce only for myself, mostly, but I've given away gifts when I had too much.

I have: a cherry tree, a plum tree, raspberries, blackberries, wild strawberries, and Hazelnuts.

I used to grow my own veggies like lettuce, tomatoes, horseradishes, carrots, bell peppers, beans, peas, broccoli and so forth, but my cherry tree has grown larger, and is taking away space and sunlight, so this reduces my place for veggies.

Plus, I now use this space for flowers, because my garden belongs to my business now, (holiday apartments) where people can sit and enjoy nature.

Perhaps I can post a few images later on.

Organic products are becoming big business in the US lately,


That's good to hear! Since when exactly?

and even being turned into a form of mass production.


Organic mass production is normal here. But, as I said, the techniques and products used can differ.

In the middleages, people used 3 crops rotation, do you know what that is?

In case you don't:

Farmer noticed that some crops leave soils deploited, while other regenerate it. Some crops can't thrive if certain others have been cultivated the year before, but so well after another crop. So compatible crops follow one another in cultivation, and for one year, the field is left alone, to regenerate completely.

Then, nature would take over and especially wild flowers and herbs would add to healing the soil from infections and insects. .

Organic farming uses this old knowledge.

Are the procedures you describe typical for organic farms that sell to consumers, either through distributors or at farmer's markets? If I go to the organic supermarket and pick up some celery, will it have been produced in more or less the same way?


Yes, more or less. But there are slight differences.

1. Here in Germany organic products have a long tradition, and most farmers join umbrella organizations which help them to market them.

High class brands are "Demeter", with a unique method.

Then there is "Bioland", "Neuform", and supermarkets sell: "bio-bio" and "bio-sun" to name a few.

What those would be in the US should be available in Google. Please go into their websites and read what they write about their agenda!)

Some farmers also sell a part of their production directly in their own farm shop.

Other organic producers deliver to their customers and do their round once a week, or so.

So if I understand you correctly, the main difference between the natural and synthetic pesticides is that the former break down quickly and leave fewer residues -- plus they are less toxic to humans to begin with?


That is my understanding.

What's also important to know is, that grown on healthy soils, many plants don't need any protection.

Insects only attack weak plants.

Another method to deal with insects is to use their natural antagonists, other insects which eat them.

Like:

If damaging insects appear in greenhouses often they won't get sprayed at all, but little wasps will be added into the system, which attack the lice.

Those wasps don't attacks humans.

Believe me, there are specialists at work and a lot of science in it, and a lot of this science is based on empiric old knowledge and new tests, simply derived from observing what happens out in nature.

:namaste:
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