Did you know that organic produce has pesticide residues too? Organic farming, just like other forms of agriculture, still uses pesticides and fungicides to prevent critters from destroying their crops. Confused?
And, shockingly, the actual volume usage of pesticides on organic farms is not recorded by the government. Why the government isn’t keeping watch on organic pesticide and fungicide use?
The official definition of “organic”:
“Noting or pertaining to a class of chemical compounds that formerly comprised only those existing in or derived from plants or animals, but that now includes all other compounds of carbon.”
Good luck using that definition when deciding between organic and conventional peaches. A recent review article in the scientific journal Nature Plants makes the claim that organic produces “foods that contain less (or no) pesticide residues, compared with conventional farming.” But that’s not what the latest USDA-PDP (Pesticide Data Program) information about pesticide residues says.
Pesticides are allowed in organic production.
Organic advocates often leave the impression that organic farming eliminates the need for pesticides… if that were true, the Organic Materials Review Institute would have no need to list more than 40 pesticides allowed in organic production.
This will come as a big shocker to those who buy organic foods in order to avoid harmful pesticides. It’s true that each one of the 40+ pesticides on the “approved” list are individually reviewed and approved for use, but they’re still pesticides. They’ve been designed to do the same thing as all the other pesticides out there and there’s no guarantee that they’re any safer.
A current list of allowed substances can be found HERE.
There are roughly 40 synthetic substances farmers can use under U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) organic standards, says Lewis. Some of these are as innocuous as newspaper, which is allowed for use as mulch or as a “feedstock” for compost, or sticky traps, which provide a physical function (trapping insects) and then are removed from the field at the end of the year.
About 26 of the 40 synthetic substances allowed in organic crop production are considered pesticides. But these have restrictions, too. For example, soap-based herbicides can only be used on right-of-ways and ditches, but can’t come into contact with organic food. Boric acid, which is a synthetic insecticide, can be used for pest control, but can’t come into contact with crops or soil. Similarly, ammonium carbonate can only be used as bait in insect traps.
Take the example of Rotenone. Rotenone was widely used in the US as an organic pesticide for decades. Because it is natural in origin, occurring in the roots and stems of a small number of subtropical plants, it was considered “safe” as well as “organic“. However, research has shown that rotenone is highly dangerous because it kills by attacking the mitochondria, the energy powerhouses of all living cells. Research found that exposure to rotenone caused Parkinson’s Disease-like symptoms in rats, and killed many species, including humans.
That said, those who do eat organic can take to heart that many smaller farms use few to no pesticides, and overall, organic foods do usually contain lower levels of pesticides than conventional foods.
Once again, the best answer seems to be buying local produce from growers you trust.
Credits:Anya V, source