Pesticides in Organic Farming

**I apologize in andvance if this is inappropriately posted here, but it seems
that many alternative health-ers seek to escape pesticides by buying organic
and might be interested in this**

Organic produce has become increasingly popular in recent years, as consumers   have grown more health conscious and environmentally aware.  Many stores and    supermarkets now have large sections devoted to organic fruits and vegetables.


Contrary to what most people believe, "organic" does *not* automatically mean   "pesticide-free" or "chemical-free".  In fact, under the laws of most states,   organic farmers are allowed to use a wide variety of chemical sprays and powders on their crops.

So what *does* organic mean?  It means that these pesticides, if used, must be  derived from natural sources, not synthetically manufactured.  Also, these      pesticides must be applied using equipment that has not been used to apply any  synthetic materials for the past three years, and the land being planted cannot have been treated with synthetic materials for that period either.  

Most organic farmers (and even some conventional farmers, too) employ mechanicaland cultural tools to help control pests.   These include insect traps, careful crop selection (there are a growing number of disease-resistant varieties), and biological controls (such as predator insects and beneficial microorganisms).


When you test synthetic chemicals for their ability to cause cancer, you find   that about half of them are carcinogenic.

Until recently, nobody bothered to look at natural chemicals (such as organic   pesticides), because it was assumed that they posed little risk.  But when the  studies were done, the results were somewhat shocking:  you find that about halfof the natural chemicals studied are carcinogenic as well.

This is a case where everyone (consumers, farmers, researchers) made the same,  dangerous mistake.  We assumed that "natural" chemicals were automatically      better and safer than synthetic materials, and we were wrong. It's important    that we be more prudent in our acceptance of "natural" as being innocuous and   harmless.


Clearly, the less we impact our environment, the better off we all are.  Organicfarming practices have greatly advanced the use of non-chemical means to controlpests, as mentioned earlier.

Unfortunately, these non-chemical methods do not always provide enough          protection, and it's necessary to use chemical pesticides.  How do organic      pesticides compare with conventional pesticides?

A recent study compared the effectiveness of a rotenone-pyrethrin mixture versusa synthetic pesticide, imidan.  Rotenone and pyrethrin are two common organic   pesticides;  imidan is considered a "soft" synthetic pesticide (i.e., designed  to have a brief lifetime after application, and other traits that minimize      unwanted effects).  It was found that up to 7 applications of the rotenone-     pyrethrin mixture were required to obtain the level of protection provided by 2  applications of imidan.

It seems unlikely that 7 applications of rotenone and pyrethrin are really      better for the environment than 2 applications of imidan, especially when       rotenone is extremely toxic to fish and other aquatic life.

It should be noted, however, that we don't know for certain which system is moreharmful.  This is because we do not look at organic pesticides the same way thatwe look at conventional pesticides.  We don't know how long these organic       pesticides persist in the environment, or the full extent of their effects.     When you look at lists of pesticides allowed in organic agriculture, you find   warnings such as, "Use with caution.  The toxicological effects of [organic     pesticide X] are largely unknow

n," or "Its persistence in the soil is unknown." Again, researchers haven't bothered to study the effects of organic pesticides  because it is assumed that "natural" chemicals are automatically safe. 


For obvious reasons, organic farmers have done little, if anything, to dispel   the myth that "organic = chemical/pesticide-free".  They would only stand to    lose business by making such a disclosure.

Pesticide manufacturers have little concern in the matter.  To them, "synthetic pesticides sold" and "organic pesticides sold" are both "pesticides sold".

As for conventional farmers, they are not really in a position to be critical.  It would not be in their interest to draw attention to chemical and pesticide   use.


The purpose of this message is not to discourage you from buying organic        produce.

It is only meant to let you know what you are or aren't getting when you make   such a purchase.  Unless you know your grower personally, there is no guarantee that your produce has been grown without pesticides or other chemicals.  It's a point to consider, given the substantially higher cost of organic foods.

There are many choices and decisions that we, as consumers, are asked to make.  Hopefully, this text has provided some new information that you will find       helpful.

			- - - - - - - - - - - - - - 
Please feel free to distribute this text as you please.

A hard copy of this message in leaflet form (on recycled paper, of course!) is  available; just send your snail mail address to: lhom@ocf.berkeley.edu
Your comments and questions are welcome.

The study comparing rotenone-pyrethrin and imidan was performed by J. Kovach of the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, New York.

The data describing the carcinogenicity of natural and synthetic compounds are  referenced in Gold, L.S., et al. (1992) _Science_ Vol. 258, pp. 261-265.

Many thanks go to the Organic Crop Improvement Association for their cooperation in this study.  The OCIA has chapters in AZ, AR, CA, CO, FL, IL, IN,IA, KS, MD, MI, MN, MO, MT, NE, NM, NC, ND, OH, PA, SD, UT, and WI.  Thanks are also       extended to the California Certified Organic Farmers, the Ohio Ecological Food  and Farm Association, and Oregon Tilth Certified Organic.  (The appropriate     information has not yet been obtained from the Natural Organic Farmers          Association (NOFA), but it is a

lmost certain that all facts stated here apply to their certified products as well.)  The following  state Departments of        Agriculture have also   been very helpful:  AL, AK, CA, CO, DE, FL, HI, IA, LA, MD, MI, ND, OK, TN, VA, and WA. States with no laws governing organic products  include Alabama, Delaware, Hawaii, and Tennessee. 
*   Lou Hom			*	"All folks are family."            *
*   lhom@ocf.berkeley.edu       *    			-- John Saponara   * 

Article 732 (3 more) in bionet.plants:
Newsgroups: sci.archaeology,sci.anthropology,bionet.plants
From: claird@NeoSoft.com (Cameron Laird)

Subject: [ARCH] Re: Which Came First, Agriculture or Pastorialism? [LONG]
Organization: NeoSoft Communications Services -- (713) 684-5900
Date: Wed, 16 Dec 1992 18:37:40 GMT
Lines: 182

In article <BzACz4.7IF@well.sf.ca.us> dchapman@well.sf.ca.us (Dave Chapman) writ
>Can anyone out there tell me what the best current dates are
>for the beginning of agriculture, and for the beginning of
>herding?  I have the impression that domestication of sheep
>occurred later than the domestication of grains, but would
>like to see actual references.
>Also, information on the approximate order in which the various
>food animals and food crops were domesticated would be
>appreciated.  Thanks.
Domestication is a marvelous subject.  That is,

it endlessly fascinates me.

This comes up often enough, by the way, that it
deserves to be in an FAQ.

The cheap answer is to instruct you to look in
recent Scientific Americans; there was, for ex-
ample, a review this fall of the archaeology of
some of the early Eurasian horse pastoralists.
There is much, much more to it than this, though.

Humans have practiced domestication all around the
globe, and throughout the last ten thousand years
or so.  Well-attested dog remains have been found
dating back around 10,000 years in Idaho, Britain,
Turkey, ... (what's the archaeology of dingos?  Is
there genetic evidence that humans and dogs settled
the New World together 12000 BP?)  Plenty of people
believe that hominids and canids go back a lot
farther than that.  Cattle are descended from at
least two wild species; this process seems to have
been well underway by 9000 BP.  Sheep go back at least
7000 BP.  Swine have also been domesticated more than

once during the last 5000 years, probably first in
China.  Horses likely entered human society just a bit
later, and almost certainly in Central Asia, although
the date on this one seems to be subject to revision
backwards.  My position:  these numbers will continue
to be shuffled for some time into the future.

The first hard evidence for plant domestication
also dates from around 9000 BP.  Barley, sorghum,
sweet potato (!), rice, common beans, flax, egg-
plant, and maybe maize and avocados (!) have been
well dated before 7000 BP.

A different way to interpret your question:  does
a particular people domesticate plants or animals
first?  There's a lot of ideology tied up in an-
wering this question; it's probably best for you
to read some of the standard literature.  Don't
lose sight of these keys:
1.  domestication has happened at many times and
    places, and by many people.  It continues to
    the present (fox; kiwi fruit; cashews; high-
    bush blueberry; jojoba; various pines; red

    deer; ...);
2.  it's a rare society which is "isolated".
    Most peoples have been connected to a greater
    or lesser extent to the world economy, at
    least for the last 6000 years;
3.  domestication isn't irreversible.  Elk
    ("moose" to North Americans) and stinging
    nettles once were kept by some northern
    Europeans, and a number of ungulates by
    southwestern Asians; no more.
I like thinking about some of the marginal cases:
mesoamerican turkeys, New World rodents and camelids,
and the cervidae.  For a well-contextualized discussion
of a hunter-herder transition, look at

        Ingold, Tim
        1980    Hunters, pastoralists, and ranchers:
                reindeer economies and their transform-
                ations.  Cambridge University Press,
                New York

Most of the controversy in this field has to do with
the "scientific materialism" of archaeology; antagonists

become quite heated over such questions as whether it is
"winners" or "losers" that have innovated in agricultural
technique, and whether horticultural surplus antedates
political hierarchy, and whether social infrastructure
requires, or is required by, agriculture.  You can start
on some of these questions yourself in

        Reed, Charles A., editor
        1977    Origins of agriculture.  Mouton,
                The Hague

The classic that everyone criticizes is

        Boserup, Ester
        1965    The conditions of agricultural growth:
                the economics of agrarian change under
                population pressure.  Aldine Publishing
                Company, New York

For other views, try

        Ammerman, Albert J., and L. L. Cavalli-Sforza
        1984    The neolithic transition and the genetics

                of populations in Europe.

        Clark, J. Desmond, and Steven A. Brandt
        1984    From hunters to farmers:  the causes and
                consequences of food production in Africa.
                University of California Press, Berkeley

        Cohen, Mark Nathan, and George J. Armelagos
        1984    Paleopathology at the origins of agriculture.
                Proceedings of the 1982 Conference on Paleopath-
                ology and Socioeconomic Change at the Origins
                of Agriculture.  Academic Press, New York

        Cowan, C. Wesley, and Patty Jo Watson, with the
        assistance of Nancy L. Benco
        1992    The Origins of agriculture:  an international
                perspective.  Smithsonian Institution Press,

        Centro linceo interdisciplinare di scienze mate-
        matiche e loro applicazioni
        1986    The Origin and domestication of cultivated
                plants:  symposium.  Elsevier, New York

        Dolukhanov, Pavel Markovich.
        1979    Ecology and economy in neolithic Eastern
                Europe.  Duckworth, London

        Flannery, Kent V.
        1986    Guila Naquitz:  archaic foraging and early
                agriculture in Oaxaca, Mexico.  Academic
                Press, Orlando

        Harlan, Jack R., Jan M. J. de Wet, and Ann B. L. Stemler
        1976    Origins of African plant domestication.  Mouton,
                the Hague

        Higgs, Eric, editor
        1976    Origine de l'elevage et de la domestication.
                Centre national de la recherche scientifique,

        MacNeish, Richard S.
        1992    The origins of agriculture and settled life.
                University of Oklahoma Press, Norman


        Rindos, David
        1984    The origins of agriculture:  an evolutionary
                perspective.  Academic Press, Orlando

        Sauer, Carl Ortwin
        1969    Agricultural origins and dispersals; the
                domestication of animals and foodstuffs.
                M.I.T. Press, Cambridge

        Smith, Philip Edward Lake.
        1976    Food production and its consequences.
                Cummings Publishing Company, Menlo Park

        Zeven, A. C., and P. M. Zhukovsky
        1975    Dictionary of cultivated plants and their
                centres of diversity excluding ornamentals,
                forest trees, and lower plants.  Centre for
                Agricultural Publishing and Documentation,

        Zvelebil, Marek, editor
        1986    Hunters in transition:  Mesolithic societies
                of temperate Eurasia and their transition to

                farming.  Cambridge University Press, Cam-

Cameron Laird
claird@Neosoft.com (claird%Neosoft.com@uunet.uu.net)    +1 713 267 7966
claird@litwin.com (claird%litwin.com@uunet.uu.net)      +1 713 996 8546
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Newsgroups: misc.rural
Subject: Planter/Seeder recommendations wanted 
Message-ID: <1993Jun9.123616.10653@iccgcc.decnet.ab.com>
From: boldt@cselc19.cs.hh.ab.com (Peter Boldt)
Date: 9 Jun 93 12:36:16 EST
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Does anyone own/use a planter.  I have an Earthway, but it has some
drawbacks.  Namely, it does NOT handle round seed very well, as it gets
caught behind the seed plate.

So, my question is "DO you have any experience with a STANHY, NIBEX, COLE,
or any other hand or small tracter type planter?"

It seems that a vacum planter is the way to go, do you agree?

Is it best to buy a STANHAY or NIBEX vacum seeder, or to try an put something
together using a International Havester ( or some other mainstream agricultural
planter ) vacum unit and openers?

thanks for sharing any info you have,