[NAFEX] Boron and other things

dmnorton at royaloakfarmorchard.com dmnorton at royaloakfarmorchard.com
Thu Apr 5 12:16:34 EDT 2007

My point is that there are some apple growers that have no choice in using chemicals because some pests are just too prolific in their geographic area to sucessfully use organics.  To say that this choice is superstition and utter bilge is the same as saying those who grow organically are just a bunch of long haired hippie freaks. (None of you are long haired hippie freaks, are you?!?)  I greatly admire those who are able to grow fruit entirely organically.  Provived they do not use any pyrethrum, neem, sabadilla, and rotenone, as well as insecticidal soaps and sprays such as kaolin that are certified "organic".  As we all know, there are some organic sprays that are more toxic than organo-phosphates or neonicitinoids and that's my other point. 

First, it is important to address the common misperception that organic farming is"pesticide-free." Organic farmers are allowed to use a number of toxic chemical pesticides, and many organic crops are routinely sprayed with pesticides.

The fundamental difference between organic and synthetic pesticides is not their toxicity, but their origin-whether they are extracted from natural plants, insects, or mineral oresor are chemically synthesized. In fact, some organic pesticides have mammaliantoxicities that are far higher than many synthetic pesticides.  Consider the "warning label" text on the label of a neem-based organic insecticide.   While organic farmers promote their use of non-chemical pest control strategies, such as crop rotation and beneficial insects, they still can and some do use chemical pesticideswhen pests threaten their crops.

The most heavily used pesticide on organic farms is the toxin from the soil bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis, commonly referred to as Bt. However, because Bt sprays are a formulation of living bacteria, they cannot be measured in pounds per acre of active chemical ingredient as are other organic and synthetic pesticides.

Copper, an organic fungicide, is the 18th most used pesticide in the United States. Over13 million pounds of copper were applied to 54 crops in 1997. Copper, oil, and sulfurcombined accounted for a full 25% of U.S. pesticide use.

There are quite a number of additional organic pesticides, including insecticidal botanicalextracts such as pyrethrum, neem, sabadilla, and rotenone, as well as insecticidal soaps and sprays such as kaolin. Surprisingly, government regulators and authorities have no statistics at all on the use of any organic pesticide other than oil, sulfur, Bt, and copper,despite the fact that millions of pounds of these other organic pesticides are used everyyear in the United States.  
This lack of government oversight is somewhat puzzling because many organic pesticides are used more intensively per acre than non-organic pesticides because of the lower effectiveness of organic pesticides compared to their synthetic counterparts.  So who's the more superstitious?

Just some food for thought.

Dennis Norton
Royal Oak Farm Orchard
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