“Organic ≠ Pesticide-free”
“Organic” doesn’t mean pesticide-free! Organic farmers are allowed to use commercially manufactured pesticides that are obtained from the natural sources that are not synthetically produced.
Natural does not mean safe. Snake venom is toxic and poison ivy is dangerous. Similarly, organic pesticides are not necessarily safe.
While synthetic chemical pesticides have been studied and regulated to safeguard human health, the negative impacts of naturally occurring chemicals in organic pesticides have been hardly examined. Natural chemicals are known to be carcinogen to rodents. Some organic pesticides have shown adverse effects. Here are some examples:
Copper sulfate has shown to cause liver damage in exposed vineyard workers in excess and kills earthworms since it remains in soil. Rotenone, derived from seeds and stems of plants such as the jicama, is suspected to induce Parkinson’s disease. Natural pyrethroids are chemicals component of many insecticides. They have similar adverse effects on human health as their synthetic counterparts. Yet, as these “natural” chemicals are not created to target a specific organism, they are often used at a higher dose.
Does organic also mean safer? The general perception that natural organic pesticides work with nature and are environmentally friendly is not based on science. We don’t look at the organic pesticides in the same way as they look at conventional pesticides. We don’t know how long organic pesticides persist in the environment or the full extent of their effects on our health. And since these natural ingredients are not scrutinized or regulated, we certainly don’t know which is more harmful. The use of organic pesticides over synthetic ones may not reduce health or environmental risks.
I am not discouraging anyone from buying organic produce. It’s up to an individual to decide what to eat, be aware of that it may not be “organic” pesticide-free.
P.S. Besides organic pesticides, synthetic substances are allowed in organic crop production, provided that such substances don’t contaminate of crops, soil, or water. Some of them include;
Alcohols (ethanol, isopropanol) are used for disinfection, chlorine compounds (calcium hypochlorite, chlorine dioxide, sodium hypochlorite) are allowed for preharvest use as long as they do not exceed threshold level under the Safe Drinking Water Act, copper sulfate, hydrogen peroxide, ozone gas, peracetic acid; cleaning only, sodium carbonate peroxyhydrate, ammonium carbonate; as insect traps only, potassium silicate, boric acid, pheromones. vitamin D3, ferric phosphate, eracetic acid—for use to control fire blight bacteria, potassium bicarbonate, streptomycin and tetracycline; until October 21, 2014, humic acids, lignin sulfonate, magnesium sulfate, micronutrients (soluble boron products, sulfates, carbonates, oxides, or silicates of zinc, copper, iron, manganese, molybdenum, selenium, and cobalt), vitamins, B1 , C, and E, sulfurous acid, ethylene gas.
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