[NAFEX] chemical vs organic

Stephen Sadler Docshiva at Docshiva.org
Tue Jun 16 15:46:05 EDT 2009

Rotenone is natural, but the definition of the term 'organic' is changing.
Whether something like that would be allowed in an organically certified
farm would be determined by the certifying agency.  I would encourage what
the OMRI insists on in this statement about rotenone: "It may be used only
as part of a biorational pest management program, and cannot be the primary
method of pest control in the Farm Plan. The least toxic botanicals must be
used in the least ecologically disruptive way possible."


As for Bt, yes, the bacteria produce toxins, but, as with many toxins, they
are highly specific.  They require a high-pH gut to be effective, and then
act on specific receptors in the gut.  Bt or its toxic products are not only
not harmful to non-insects, but each insect that can be affected is targeted
by a specific strain of Bt.  For instance, many caterpillars are damaged by
one strain, and common mosquito larvae by another.  Neither strain is
problematic to the other type of creature.  Organic gardeners and farmers
love specificity.  


Not to pick on you, Dennis; your IPM approach to insect control is sensible.


~ Stephen


From: nafex-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org
[mailto:nafex-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of
dmnorton at royaloakfarmorchard.com
Sent: Tuesday, June 16, 2009 7:15 AM
To: North American Fruit Explorers
Subject: Re: [NAFEX] chemical vs organic [SEC=UNCLASSIFIED]


The question is not organic vs. chemical or chemical vs. organic since
organic growers do use chemicals such as Bt.  It is the toxin from the soil
bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis. In 1997 Bt was the  most heavily used
pesticide on organic farms.   The real question that is typically overlooked
is, toxic vs. non-toxic.  For example:

Nicotine, one of the more toxic organic insecticides, has a rat LD50 (lethal
dose in 50% of animals tested) of 55mg/kg. The synthetic insecticide,
imidacloprid, has a rat LD50 of 425mg/kg, making imidacloprid nearly 10
times less toxic than nicotine. Yet nicotine is "organic".   Rotenone has an
LD50 of 60-1500 mg/kg and is more acutely toxic than Malathion or Sevin.
Cats are highly susceptible to pyrethrum. But Rotenone is "organic".   

We are a conventionally grown fruit orchard and I would never use either Bt
or Rotenone.  I don't use Malathion and only use Sevin as a thinner at 1/2
to 1/4 rate.  I don't wnat to kill our beneficials!  

Dennis Norton
Royal Oak Farm Orchard
Office (815) 648-4467
Mobile (815) 228-2174
Fax (609) 228-2174
 <http://www.royaloakfarmorchard.com> http://www.royaloakfarmorchard.com
 <http://www.revivalhymn.com> http://www.revivalhymn.com

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