The Noah Project

Rebuilding a sustainable world.

Pesticide Residue Strengthens Case for Organic Farming

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My Google Alerts is ablaze with articles about pesticide residue found on organic produce.  Paul Hanley’s level-headed piece in the Star Phoenix explains why this finding “drives home the importance of expanding pesticide-free organic farming practices.”

Providing food free from chemical residues is just one goal of organic farming and perhaps not the most important.
As the CFIA and other studies show, organic food is not necessarily pesticide free, but is much more likely to be pesticide-free or have lower chemical residues because chemicals are not applied directly to organic crops. Residues come mainly from spray drift from surrounding farms.
Do some farmers who call themselves organic cheat and spray their crops? Of course there are always a few cheaters.
Still, the CFIA information confirms that consumers who buy organic, especially Canadian or locally grown options, are buying food with substantially reduced contaminants. The more important goal of organic farming, however, is to reduce the chemical load in the environment, which has negative impacts on all life forms, including people.
Whether chemical residues are found on organic food or not, using chemical-free organic methods reduces the chemical load in the environment. Plus, organic farming pioneers are building up a body of knowledge about chemical-free farming that can be tapped to help all farmers reduce their chemical use.
The only way to have pesticide-free food and protect biodiversity is to make organic farming the norm, rather than a niche market.
As the U of S ecotoxicology lab says, shifts in agriculture toward large-scale production, mechanization and mono-cropping have seen exponential growth in chemical inputs. Recently, agricultural practices here and around the world have become highly dependent on a newer class of insecticides, the neonicotinoids.
In the Prairies, they are mainly used as seed treatments on major crops such as canola. This is problematic as much prime agricultural land is directly adjacent to ecologically valuable freshwater wetlands.
While the neonicotinoids were thought to be much safer than older chemicals, biologist Christy Morissey, who heads up the ecotoxicology lab, is finding the chemicals in wetlands in concentrations three to four times higher than is considered safe for insects, and in some cases 100 times higher or more.
Up to 90 per cent of wetlands are contaminated and evidence indicates that the pesticide is much more persistent than had been thought.
We have to rethink the mindset that pesticides can solve our agricultural problems and employ effective, holistic alternatives such as those practices by organic farmers.
As was stated in the Earthcare book: “If all the pertinent and available knowledge about biologically sound agriculture was implemented today, pesticides would be placed back where they belong, in the minor role of temporary stopgaps for errors and for some public health action in a few areas.”

Author: Daniela

I will forever be grateful that I was introduced to the utility and beauty of hand crafted products early in life - from the symbolic motifs sewn into the coarse linen fabric of Croatian traditional wear to the colorful Kilim carpets that decorated the parquet floors in my grandmother's living room. I treasure the memories of my grandfather teaching me how to protect myself against the "evil eye," the smell of the flower stalls in the open air market where my grandmother bought produce early every morning for the day’s meals and the summers spent at my great grandmother's where the village wags would come to gossip over thick, black Turkish coffee in her cool stone kitchen. Someone noted that "For all of us that want to move forward, there are a very few that want to keep the old methods of production, traditions and crafts alive." I am a fellow traveler with those who value the old traditions and folk wisdom. I believe the knowledge they possess can contribute significantly to our efforts to build a more sustainable world - one that values the individual over the corporation, conservation over growth and happiness over wealth.

One thought on “Pesticide Residue Strengthens Case for Organic Farming

  1. Pingback: GreenLeaders DC Visits Calleva | GreenLeaders DC

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