The Dangers of Organic Farming
Organic farmers who produce free range, organic meat, dairy and eggs do not use pesticides or other chemicals to grow their products. They don’t rely on government regulated farms to supply them with the organic food they need to feed their families. The same is true of organic gardeners. In fact many have no pesticides, herbicides or fertilisers at all. No matter how they find or grow their food, they go further than traditional growers to ensure it is pesticide free.
There are a number of different types of free ranging animals, plants and insects that can be grown without the aid of pesticides or harmful chemicals. Some of these include wild mushrooms, dandelions, annuals, and spinosad. Spinosad is the popular name for natural fertiliser as it can be prepared from manure from a sheep or goat, which would normally have been cleared from the soil before being added to the compost heap. It is made into a fine sod paste which can be added to organic production crops, especially those like barley and oats, to increase their nutrient content.
Many people are concerned about the chemicals found in commercial pesticides and fertilisers. There is a danger that the harmful effects of these will be passed on to the consumers who buy organic food. This is the case for a number of reasons. One is that it is not known whether these pesticides and fertilisers are actually absorbed by the skin, meaning that they are absorbed through the respiratory system and eventually into the blood stream. There is also evidence that some pesticides and fertilisers can cause anemia among certain groups of people.
A Dutch study carried out on chickens showed that those fed a diet of poultry manure containing high levels of pesticides developed a higher risk of suffering from infertility. There is evidence that pesticides can cause developmental problems in humans and this could lead to miscarriages, premature births or even cancer. There are strong suspicions that the presence of a pesticide called Bisphenol A (BPA) found in many baby bottles may have links to an increased incidence of infertility in women.
Another type of crop that has been the subject of debate is copper. Copper is used extensively as both an industrial and household chemical. There is suspicion that exposure to the toxic effects of copper can cause neurological disorders in humans. The synthetic form of copper is called trihalomethanes (THM), which are also toxic.
There is evidence that there is a link between eating organically grown foods and reducing your risk of certain types of cancer. It has been suggested that residues of pesticides found in conventional farms may be responsible for a variety of health conditions including bladder cancer. It is thought that exposure to pesticides may also contribute to an increased risk of colon and breast cancer. The argument that pesticides could be responsible for cancer was strengthened by research that showed that people who had consumed a large amount of a potentially toxic pesticide showed a higher risk of colorectal cancer.
One of the safest bets is to choose organically grown food. The certification provided by the USDA does not verify that organic farmers have used safe methods, but the certification is a useful starting point. The USDA also requires that the crops it inspect are free from any pesticides. When shopping for a new hybrid or variety of crops look for one that has been cultivated without the use of pesticides. Look for “organic” on the labels of produce and see if you can find that certification.
The benefits of organic farming are many, but it will take time for the trend to catch up with conventional agriculture. Some companies have made the transition to organic farming, but many farmers are still using pesticides. Until this trend catches up, consumers should be aware of the dangers of pesticides. With organic methods, pesticides are unnecessary. However, the benefits do exist, and they will only become more widely utilized as the benefits outweigh the risks.