Organic - If They Only Knew or Understood!

totally agree with your berry examples, although this is probably applicable only to homegrowers, since there isn’t much capital involved. Commercializing raspberries and blacberries however, need pesticides as critical prophylaxis for the investment. As any onset of diseases and pests could equate to huge losses in the investment.
apples, peaches and nectarines are a moot topic. If you grow or have grown any of those, you are, to some extent an expert in pesticide formulations. And that includes the person typing this. But have undergone lots of purging and rehab, and now proudly a 100% pesticide-free fruit and vegie grower.

in that case, i will have to go with what @danzeb posted, since poisons are the pertinent subjects.

statistical analyses of hindsight scenarios may have some limitations, but the glaring fact is that with retrospective studies, any damages can’t possibly be fixed. The gov’t has already permitted farmers like Alan to use pesticides. So now, all of them are rendered totally dependent on pesticides, and must either give up having to use them, or continue to do so just to avoid losses in capital.

that is sad. And this isn’t even the overall implications(to human-health) being studied. Other effects are yet to be determined. Or yet to be discovered.

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There are some alternatives we can use to carcinogens. Here are a few links you might be interested in
That just discusses insect control. The subject gets lengthy. Most of us use the bare minimum of spray to still get a crop. The answer is not always black and white.

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i have used diatomite too in low-traffic areas, and seem to be good against ants.
only caveat, and hopefully merely negligible, is that it may cause silicosis.

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The SWD don’t really care if the grower is a commercial grower trying to earn a profit or backyard grower just trying to grow and eat some fresh blackberries and raspberries. Its almost 100% certain they will attack the cane fruit in my area. Unfortunately, they lay eggs which turn into maggots in the fruit without leaving a mark. Their presence is not noticed until you bite into the maggot or they crawl out of the fruit in the refrigerator. Keeping the fruit picked clean helps, but a spray is required to keep them under control. The spray can be organic ORMI like Entrust or a synthetic chemical like Mustang Max or Malithion.

Growing backyard type vegetables in my climate with no chemicals is not too difficult. Growing cane fruit is more difficult because of SWD. Growing peaches or apples with no pesticides is the most difficult… More and more chemicals approved for organic production are available and new “reduced risk” synthetic pesticides are becoming more popular. I view the development and use of ORMI and reduced risk synthetic pesticides as positive, but in my area multiple sprays are required to produce apples or peaches that are consistently worth eating

unfortunately there seems to be an insurmountable irony to this statement. As any joe or jane will find it hard to believe- if the very person touting his produce as ‘safe’ and ‘healthy’ was that same person who, several times had to dress up with the following just so he could grow the said produce

lastly, just because one is licensed as a sprayer does not always equate to proper usage of pesticides. It is a for-profit endeavor, no doubt. Not implicating anyone, but if a hypothetical licensed sprayer also happens to be the owner of a fruit farm, and happens to be in dire straits financially, or have had prior bad experience with pests or diseases to his trees , the tendency is to be proactive about it in a not-so safe way. Apples and peaches may only be tested by the gov’t randomly, so impossible to tell if the one anybody is eating now has less(or more) pesticides.

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i perfectly understand @blueberrythrill. Point i was trying to make was that when you grow your own, you tend to be more careful with application of pesticides, whereas those who grow for profit might push the envelope a little bit more…

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JuJu, I’'m sorry, I fail to see the irony. The whole point is the relative amount of exposure. The grower is exposed to probably 100’s of times the amount of pesticide as the consumer and yet the grower will likely live a longer and a more healthy life than the consumer of said food- now that’s irony.

The other question about which is it, elevated rates of cancer or less cancer for pesticide applicators, it is less cancer but certain specific cancer risks are elevated, such as prostrate cancer.

What I want to see is an epidemiological study comparing the health of organic farmers to conventional ones. That would be very interesting even if it wasn’t conclusive of anything.

And finally, I want to give a huge thumbs up to David for providing one of the rare instances in internet debates where someone admits to being wrong. There’s character in that. The man is my hero on this thread.

Risk due to pesticides is the product of two factors, the toxicity of the chemical and the amount of the exposure to the chemical. Risk = Toxicity X Exposure. As as a grower and a major consumer of what I grow, my risk is much, greater than someone who picks a basket of blackberries from my farm and eats them. I live on the farm, do all the spraying, spend long hours in the growing area and eat large amounts of what I grow, All of these factors combine to make my risk from pesticides at least 10 times greater than my average customer. I guess I could sell the farm and spend my twilight years in a nice house on a nice lot, but my mental and physical health would suffer. Understanding that my risk from pesticide exposure is much greater than average, why would I ever “push the envelope” as far as my safety and the safety of my family by using any farm chemical in an unsafe manor? I limit my spray program as much as possible. I choose the chemical with the lowest PHI that will kill the target pest and generally exceed the PHI by 2 or 3 times before the fruit is sold. Each year I consult my spray records from the previous year and try to substitute a less toxic control. Farm chemicals are expensive. Less chemical use means more profit as long as I’m able to grow a quality product with few defects that my customers will purchase. I believe just about all commercial growers would agree.

i don’t know what David was bringing up(his posts were deleted), and besides, it is not up to anyone to conclusively say he’s wrong, but the more relevant question in my opinion, and maybe should ask you and everyone else chiming in here, has anybody who’s posted here actually been proven right? As in ‘gospel truth’ right, anybody?

it’s quite premature jumping to conclusions don’t you think? Not with a few retrospective studies, and not taking into account the higher rates of autism spectrum disorders, obscure immuno diseases, and multitudes of other syndromes etc among americans compared to other parts of this planet(who have limited access to pesticides)

thanks @blueberrythrill, i sure hope other farmers have the exact business model as yours

i guess one does not have to eat pesticide-treated fruits and vegies to be harmed, and simply just live near a pesticide-using farm.
much like second-hand smoke harms non-smokers more than it does the smokers, a similar scenario applies to children and mothers. Farmers are typically adult men, they may be immune(and happy for them), but this is because they do not conceive and their growth and development have ceased.
thus said, your rationale above about farmers’ well-being may hold true–but only for the first party–the farmers.
unfortunately there are more variables and permutations to the overall picture which you missed–women and children.
could it be that women who don’t live near pesticide-using farms be also affected simply by eating pesticide-laden fruits? It is hard to say, but it is definitely not BS if one will wager the same. Pesticides are not just about cancer and lifespans, apparently.

Juju, I think you are locked into adversarial mode here. You are only thinking in terms of organic vs synthetic which is not at all what David’s objections were about. His were about the quality of the journalism by the writer of the article we are discussing.

I find your study about exposure to synthetic pesticides and autism risk very interesting and if research becomes adequately conclusive I believe that action should be taken. I am also concerned about limiting the exposure of children to pesticides that prove excessively risky. I just don’t happen to feel that the choice should ever be an arbitrary line between synthetic and organic materials. That is why I personally despise organic orthodoxy, its utter silliness that because some synthetic materials are dangerous all should be excluded from agriculture.

If we remove synthetics from agriculture (which will never happen) shouldn’t we also remove them from industry? No more plastic containers to hold food, or plastic materials in furniture, synthetic wood preservatives and all the other sources of exposure in our lives. These exposures are much less studied but even in that context seem to show the same kinds of potential problems as agricultural chemicals. And once we are done with that we can look at all the carcinogens and health threats that mother nature packages for us as the article under discussion begins to address.

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Thats an interesting study @jujubemulberry; they should mainly be looking at children as they are the ones with highest sensitivity.

My own classification is not organic vs not, it is whether it is a wide-spectrum bug killer or not. Wide spectrum bug killers are also toxic to humans. Since I live in a neighborhood with small children I use no wide-spectrum bug killers. That includes rotenone and pyrethrins, fully USDA-approved organic but plenty toxic. Given how small backyard orchards are compared to big farms I expect its not making a lot of difference, but I’d rather be on the safe side.

@alan, I agree that there is a lot of other exposure that could be as bad or worse. In cities the air is not very good and I expect the city kids are worse off overall than their country cousins getting hit by second-hand insecticide.

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Scott, as you know, I greatly respect your approach, even if it may cost you a percentage of your crop and to some degree limit your choices of varieties to grow. Your studious approach offers us all a useful body of information and advice.

I don’t necessarily agree that all wide-spectrum bug killers necessarily represent an appreciable risk to humans, but there are so many factors in play it’s a tough issue to evaluate clearly. The article that started this discussion makes an interesting point about the insecticides naturally present in all produce, but those ones only reach humans in the dilute form, and, as you have mentioned in the past (in a different context)- we evolved consuming those chemicals. But those chemicals are evolving and changing constantly so a percentage of them we haven’t evolved with.

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This is a very important point relative to the original article, and I agree with your point that there are chemicals we have not evolved with (long) that are found in natural foods. My ancestors are mostly from northern Europe where wheat arrived relatively late. The gluten in wheat is basically a poison to me, because my ancestors were not fully evolved to a gut capable of processing gluten. I have to be very strict about eating no gluten - its a pain but its a lot less pain than poisoning myself. In general I prefer to eat more “paleo” (in the modern fad-word) foods because we have more generations of adaption to them.

The thing about the modern synthetic poisons is all of them are very fresh to our genetic makeups, we have really not evolved any protection to them. We are consuming much less mass, but they are much more dangerous. The “organic” poisons like rotenone are little better, I don’t think they were found at all in things we ate.

This is lumping way too much into a single category at both ends, IMO. Some of “they” are more dangerous but some naturally occurring poisons are extremely dangerous, as you know. Aren’t you trying to say is that they are “potentially” more dangerous or that there is a higher risk of unknown dangers?

I would go back to epidemiological evidence of spray applicators being relatively healthy as suggestive that these synthetics are unlikely highly dangerous in the grand scheme of our overall health- at least once we reach adulthood.

I would also be interested in anyone out the with a significant background in chemistry to offer their insights into how slightly altering molecules could render them dangerous in ways that our testing might completely miss.

The argument about new molecules being extremely risky has always struck me as not quite logical because mother nature is constantly altering virus and bacteria in ways we have not evolved to deal with. No man made chemical has ever accidentally caused anything like the destruction of AIDS or even some of the more virulent strains of flu.

I meant with respect to our genetic adaption they were much more dangerous. So, there are known dangers as well as a higher risk of unknown dangers. Since we are consuming very small amounts of these chemicals it (literally) dilutes the danger they pose, so its hard to say with much certainty where the truth lies. I would guess that exposure in adults to most of the chemicals if suitably handled is tolerable, but for children it may not be. But thats just my guess.

They are all risky. I expect that if people put their minds to it some truly evil diseases that make HIV and Ebola look mild could be concocted - the chemical transformations nature makes are slow and in certain dimensions only (HIV for example is a minor variant on the many SIV viruses that are found in apes). Fortunately the efficient killing of masses of humans is not considered good behavior (to say the least) whereas mass killing of codling moths or Japenese beetles is a major goal.

Forget my question.

If anyone cares, here is the list[quote=“MES111, post:1, topic:2003”]

Although it’s true that synthetic chemical pesticides are generally prohibited, there is a lengthy list of exceptions

[/quote] stated by the authors of approved synthetic items. Most are actually naturally found inside the plant or soils. Others are highly restricted as to crop
used upon. Many are limited to their use and time of use.