Pesticides used in organic farming?

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Pesticides used in organic farming?

Postby Lazy_eye » Fri Jun 11, 2010 5:57 pm

[Note: this is a cross-posting; original message is at Dharmawheel]

Ok, Mr. Naive here thought that when I go to the store and buy organic vegetables, I am getting something which was produced without the use of toxic pesticides. However, it appears this is not the case.

Pesticides can be used in organic farming as long as they are "natural" rather than "synthetic". But of course this distinction tells us nothing about whether the pesticides are actually harmful. Lots of things in nature are toxic to humans. And because some natural pesticides are not as efficient, we're faced with the possibility that organic farmers use them in massive quantities, thus endangering our health even more than is the case with the non-organic equivalents.

So here's my question: where can I get specific information about specific organic products and what pesticides were used?

Where can I find products which were not produced using any form of pesticide? Have any comparisons been done showing the relative dangers of different types of pesticides, whether synthetic or organic?

I'm willing to make the effort and choose organic products if they are actually beneficial, but it's a bit ridiculous to spend the extra money if they're just as toxic as the mass-production stuff, no?

Thoughts, pointers, resources appreciated.... and apologies for the undoubtedly high ignorance levels on display in what I've written above.

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Re: Pesticides used in organic farming?

Postby PeterB » Fri Jun 11, 2010 6:36 pm

A dilution of nicotine is frequently used as it breaks down quickly into non toxic compounds.
As are highly toxic compounds of vegetable origin used as insecticides.
Its advisable to wash all fruit and veg before eating even so called " organically grown " produce.
Its actually a nomenclature that will not bear too close an examination..
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Re: Pesticides used in organic farming?

Postby Mawkish1983 » Fri Jun 11, 2010 6:55 pm

Why not have a go at growing your own? Probably the best way. I tried, and failed :)
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Re: Pesticides used in organic farming?

Postby Mukunda » Fri Jun 11, 2010 7:26 pm

To make things even more complicated, different certifying organizations have different standards. :cookoo:
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Re: Pesticides used in organic farming?

Postby Rui Sousa » Fri Jun 11, 2010 7:59 pm

It is very hard to farm anything without using pesticides and fertilizers.

All I can grow in my backyard is lettuce, and they don't look as green and healthy as what you see on vegetable stands. Mine usually have lots of spiders, caterpillars, snails and flies. Last year I tried to grow broccoli, but all I could do was to give very substantial meals to hundreds of snails. Since I refused to use pesticides that would kill the snails, I ate no broccoli :)

Each country as different legislation on organic/biological food, but as far as i know the focus of legislators is avoiding toxic substances to be ingested by humans, they do not have concerns for pests. Therefor homemade, or not processed, pesticides are usually accepted in organic/biological food, but for the bugs poison is poison, and they will get killed for us to have our food, be it vegetable or animal.

I believe that is way the Buddha urged people to join the Holy Life, and not to stop eating meat. Vegetables may not be as bloody as a steak, but there is also killing involved in vegetable farming.
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Re: Pesticides used in organic farming?

Postby Mukunda » Fri Jun 11, 2010 8:59 pm

Rui Sousa wrote:I believe that is way the Buddha urged people to join the Holy Life, and not to stop eating meat.


Where did the Buddha urge others to not stop eating meat? :shrug:
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Re: Pesticides used in organic farming?

Postby Mawkish1983 » Fri Jun 11, 2010 9:06 pm

'not to eat' doesn't equal 'to not eat'. It might have been clearer to have said 'the Buddha didn't urge people to become vegetarian'.
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Re: Pesticides used in organic farming?

Postby Rui Sousa » Fri Jun 11, 2010 9:25 pm

Mukunda wrote:
Rui Sousa wrote:I believe that is way the Buddha urged people to join the Holy Life, and not to stop eating meat.


Where did the Buddha urge others to not stop eating meat? :shrug:
:anjali:


Sorry for my bad english.

What i meant was that he did not urge people to stop eating meat.
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Re: Pesticides used in organic farming?

Postby Annapurna » Fri Jun 11, 2010 9:58 pm

Hello, Lazy eye, my original reply was over at Dharmawheel, but I brought it here.

Hello, Lazy eye,

as you say yourself, you don't know anything about organic gardening or farming, but I do and practice it, and can reassure what you buy is not toxic.

Pesticides can be used in organic farming as long as they are "natural" rather than "synthetic". But of course this distinction tells us nothing about whether the pesticides are actually harmful.


Oh, this distinction tells some people a lot!

Let's take Pyrethrum. (Spelling?)

The natural Pyrethrum, gained from a plant with pretty yellow blossoms is used against plant lice.

Sprayed in the morning, it is completely broken down in the evening, by normal sunlight, by ultraviolet rays. Fruit and vegetables that were sprayed can be eaten the next day, without any residues left.

Synthetic Pyrethrum is highly toxic and takes weeks to break down, as it takes weeks for other chemical substances.

The danger with those is, that fruit may ripen before those ~4 weeks are over, must be harvested, and not all of the toxins are gone.

The even worse case is, that a substance will break down, and so fulfill the legal conditions, but develop into something more toxic than the original substance...

All this is possible with chemical, synthetic substances, but natural extracts from plants usually have very short active times, usually only a few hours, in which they kill through contact, like a brew from stinging nettles.

A fresh brew of those will kill lice within ~30 minutes, but is harmless for us. Just don't bathe in it.

All organic substances I know and work with work in this very short time frame, and are totally harmless for human beings, of course you shouldn't drink it, that would be silly.

But, and here comes a big 'but', most of those procedures become unnecessary in organic gardening/agriculture anyways.

Why?

Because the cultivation process is different from the mass production in the conventional cultivation.

1. In organic farming, plant types are chosen, which are so robust, they need little support from us, but may bring smaller and less fruit, but often tastier.

Smaller and less means they are not interesting for mass production, making profit through mass and weight, and through machines doing the work of wo/men.

So smaller harvests in mass production are uninteresting.

But, those strong and resilient plants need less protection, plus, they are very often not planted in mono-cultures, but together with other plants, which are natural repellents for certain diseases and insects.

All this requires more personal work for the farmer, with less machines. This causes a higher price, but healthier plants.

Then, the soil is cultivated with certain machines that don't negatively affect the microbial life in the soil but create better soil, with compost and natural fertilizers, so that the microbes are very active and bring dozens of minerals and trace substances into a chemical form which is easily absorbed by the plants and make them resilient.

Conventional machines and fertilizers often 'ruin' the soil, they exploit the fields, while organic farming carefully enriches the soil.

Those are just a few examples.

I haven't used any pesticides in ages, not even organic ones, because my garden is in perfect balance, meanwhile.

Strong plants, lots of animals which eat lice, such as bugs and birds, and a healthy soil bring me an abundance of flowers and fruit.

If it rains too much, mildew might come up.

I water and spray preventive mixes I make myself, teas with garlic, horsetail and crab apple, which usually helps.

There are lots of natural preventive sprays that are used in organic gardening and farming which aim at strengthening the plants natural resistance through perfect conditions so they won't get ill to begin with.

Most of those substances are herbs that help us humans too.

Horsetail is one of those substances, garlic too, to name a few.

I have acquired my knowledge and experience through reading books and 'doing it', and recommend you do too.

That said, please don't project any fears onto something you don't know and don't jump to conclusions, when you possess very little knowledge.

Best wishes, and ask if you want to know more.

PS:
The questions you asked above:

Google, and I'm sure Amazon will answer your questions.
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Re: Pesticides used in organic farming?

Postby cooran » Fri Jun 11, 2010 10:11 pm

Hello Annapurna,

Thanks for your info.

Just to clarify if you don't mind .... which of the pesticides you mention (which are harmless to beings in human form) kill beings presently in other forms - I think you mentioned lice?

It would be good to know of more deterrents which don't kill, but simply make the plant unattractive to insects.

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Re: Pesticides used in organic farming?

Postby Annapurna » Fri Jun 11, 2010 10:25 pm

PS:

Each land has controls for pesticide residues. The allowed levels differ though.

The tests show that organic vegetables an fruit have hardly any residues, and the ones they do have, probably come via air pollution.


Cooran,

yes, I meant plant lice, the little critters that sit on roses and other plants and suck their juices and cripple them.

I don't kill anything in my garden (myself), I let nature take it 's course, and let ladybugs and tits (the birds) do their thing.

There seem to be repellents for lice such as lavender, planted in between roses, as an example.

I also use the Bach flower Crab apple and Rescue Remedy. .

It's a whole science in itself, with lots of examples in my books.

I think the best repellent is always a healthy plant, in healthy soil, with the right amount of fertilizer and water.

And the right types.

I've removed plants which get lots of lice and mildew.

The climate here is rough and extreme, freezing cold winters and often sweltering heat in the summers, so not everything will survive here...

Did I understand your question at all? :?

Metta,

Anna :anjali:


PS:
beings presently in other forms


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Re: Pesticides used in organic farming?

Postby cooran » Fri Jun 11, 2010 10:32 pm

Thanks Anna - my son and his partner (not buddhists) are starting a vegetable garden soon (and a herb garden) - so I'm hoping to encourage them in the best direction.

with metta
Chris
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Re: Pesticides used in organic farming?

Postby Annapurna » Fri Jun 11, 2010 10:40 pm

Oh! Now I get it, it's late and I'm almost :zzz:

Nicotine kills.

Pyrethrum kills.

Nettle kills.

The worst stuff is traps with glue.

They suffer so long, until they pass, caught in the glue, wriggling. I hate that.

************************************************************************

Repellents: Lavender, Crab Apple, ---I will have to look it up, to be honest, because I don't need it a lot.

Using no poisons here attracts birds and insects which keep other creatures at bay.

Sometimes there are problems, but usually as soon as something appears, something else appears too.

I just use a bit of fertilizer, cut and mow, and water.

I discovered bad slug damage on plants snd was unhappy.

I caught a handful of them and carried them away, but this morning I found hedgehog shit on the walkway...I guess somebody is busy at night.
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Re: Pesticides used in organic farming?

Postby Annapurna » Fri Jun 11, 2010 10:44 pm

cooran wrote:Thanks Anna - my son and his partner (not buddhists) are starting a vegetable garden soon (and a herb garden) - so I'm hoping to encourage them in the best direction.

with metta
Chris


Oh, yes! Good idea! Perhaps look for a book in Amazon?
I wonder if there are organic books by Buddhists?

What a good idea that would be!

with metta,

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Re: Pesticides used in organic farming?

Postby Lazy_eye » Sat Jun 12, 2010 3:54 am

Thanks everyone -- this is exactly the kind of specific info I was looking for. Anna, I replied to you over at dharmawheel.

What I'm getting here is that although organic farming also uses pesticides, the non-synthetic, natural types used break down more quickly, leave fewer residues and in general are less toxic to humans. Is that correct?

I had overlooked the first precept angle when I wrote the OP, but this is important too. I doubt the problem can be avoided in commercial organic farming due to cost and labor issues. Maybe homesteading is the better choice, at least for those who can be successful at it.

Namaste,

LE
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Re: Pesticides used in organic farming?

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Jun 12, 2010 4:06 am

Lazy_eye wrote:I had overlooked the first precept angle when I wrote the OP, but this is important too. I doubt the problem can be avoided in commercial organic farming due to cost and labor issues. Maybe homesteading is the better choice, at least for those who can be successful at it.

Though as Anna says, in many cases you can just let the other bugs do their thing. I.e. get the ecosystem back into balance. For example by planting the right flowers you attract predators for the insects that are killing your plants. I went to an interesting talk about this a couple of years ago. One of the professors at our local agricultural university has been getting the local vineyards to control pests (aphids etc) by planting the right flowers along the rows (they did a lot of scientific work to figure out the right ones). A key selling point is that it's much cheaper and easier to scatter a few seeds on the ground than to buy and spray the pesticide.

Some of the farmers have also experimented with keeping birds off by encouraging the native hawks, rather than shooting at them...

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Re: Pesticides used in organic farming?

Postby Annapurna » Sat Jun 12, 2010 7:51 am

Lazy_eye wrote:Thanks everyone -- this is exactly the kind of specific info I was looking for. Anna, I replied to you over at dharmawheel.

What I'm getting here is that although organic farming also uses pesticides, the non-synthetic, natural types used break down more quickly, leave fewer residues and in general are less toxic to humans. Is that correct?

I had overlooked the first precept angle when I wrote the OP, but this is important too. I doubt the problem can be avoided in commercial organic farming due to cost and labor issues. Maybe homesteading is the better choice, at least for those who can be successful at it.

Namaste,

LE


I also replied to you over at Dharmawheel. As Mike said, bringing nature back into balance and natural antagonists into the play is one key..


Like let's use the example of a greenhouse. If damaging insects settle in, little wasps, specialized on hunting those are brought into the greenhouse and the infestation is over after a short while and without any toxins.

Plant lice are often cultivated by ants. Ants love to 'milk' them, like we milk cows.

Lice first drink juices from a plant, and this juice is sweeet. Ants tickle the lice, so that they give that juice away...and the ants drink it now.

Ants protect those lice and carry them onto plants...

So, if you have roses, and ants carry their lice onto it, planting lavender between the roses is a good trick.

Ants find lavender disgusting, and are so bothered by it, they avoid them and so also the roses near them.

The beautiful side effect is that lavender and roses together look lovely, and smell lovely and prefer similar surrounding, sunny and hot.

Our ancestors knew all this through experience, and so a large part of organic cultivation is using the old knowledge and combining it with modern science.

A very important point is also, that if chemical toxins are sprayed, they usually kill the 'beneficial' insects as well, which would keep the damaging insects at bay, if only they got a chance to do their work.

Lady bugs eat lice, and even more so their larvae:

Image

Image

Another problem comes with spraying chemicals:

Although they produced chemicals which spare bees, we can't tell bees where to fly.

So they come in contact with toxins, and this may add to or cause the mysterious bee hive collapse disorder.

Organic cultivation is imo a huge Buddhist topic!
Last edited by Annapurna on Sat Jun 12, 2010 8:41 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Pesticides used in organic farming?

Postby PeterB » Sat Jun 12, 2010 8:24 am

Lazy_eye wrote:Thanks everyone -- this is exactly the kind of specific info I was looking for. Anna, I replied to you over at dharmawheel.

What I'm getting here is that although organic farming also uses pesticides, the non-synthetic, natural types used break down more quickly, leave fewer residues and in general are less toxic to humans. Is that correct?

I had overlooked the first precept angle when I wrote the OP, but this is important too. I doubt the problem can be avoided in commercial organic farming due to cost and labor issues. Maybe homesteading is the better choice, at least for those who can be successful at it.

Namaste,

LE

It is possible although not easy to garden without killing pests. I have done it for some years.
It is not possible to garden without killing at all.
Every time the soil is tilled many sentient creatures die. some of them visible to the naked eye for example nematodes. which in any case are alive in the resulting fruit and veg when we start to cook it.
It is not possible to eat without sentient beings losing their lives.
Also it is not possible to produce fruit and veg on a commercial scale without pest control. That pest control can be organic. but it will be necessary.
We are not Jain Sadhus. In the end all we can do and should is to minimise our sentient- being- death footprint.
Of course many Tibetans would say that the best way to do this is to eat large mammals and reduce the number of smaller creatures killed...its ok I know the argument both ways..just saying.
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Re: Pesticides used in organic farming?

Postby Annapurna » Sat Jun 12, 2010 8:48 am

You're right Peter, deaths can't be avoided, we would have to give up driving [fast] too, if we look at how many insects die in collisions.

I think what matters in terms of breaking the first precept or not is:

Intention.

The first precept is only broken if we kill with intention, right?

If we step on an ant without even noticing, we had no intention to kill. Precept not broken, or?

:shrug:

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Re: Pesticides used in organic farming?

Postby Annapurna » Sat Jun 12, 2010 8:51 am

Peter, what do you do against snails and slugs?

I used to use a killer but now I am blocked. I hate touching them, if they don't have a little house to live in, but pull myself together and collect them, only-I never catch them all like the killers.

What to do? :shrug:
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