[NAFEX] chemical vs organic

dmnorton at royaloakfarmorchard.com dmnorton at royaloakfarmorchard.com
Tue Jun 16 16:20:47 EDT 2009


I never intended to criticize "organic", but simply say that there are organic OMRI certified products that have toxins in them, even though they may be "low" toxicity levels.   Another example is PyGanic® Crop Protection EC 5.0 which contains pyrethrin and is toxic to fish and other aquatic invertebrates. It has been approved by OMRI for use on a wide array of fruits, vegetables and ornamental crops grown in the U.S. PyGanic Crop Protection EC 1.4 and 5.0, botanical insecticides, derived from chrysanthemums, have been listed by the Organic Materials Reviews Institute (OMRI) for use in organic production. OMRI will provide this recommendation to more than 30 certifiers and state/province programs, including California Certified Organic Farmers, Florida Organic Growers & Consumers, and NOFA (Maine, N.J., N.Y., Vt.). This product contains a "Warning" label. not even a "Caution" label.
The Washington State Department of Agriculture has also approved PyGanic's organic status.

PyGanic Crop Protection EC 1.4 and 5.0, are currently registered for use in the states of Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Missouri, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Washington, Wisconsin, West Virginia, and Wyoming, with other states pending.

It's just that there are many consumers out there that think if they buy "organic" produce, it hasn't been "sprayed".  Most commercial "organic" operations do spray and spray products like PyGanic.  I commend those smaller operations that use only cultural practices and don't spray.  We tried it for several years, but failed because of the very high incidence of CM and PC as well as scab and fireblight.  

Dennis Norton
Royal Oak Farm Orchard
Office (815) 648-4467
Mobile (815) 228-2174
Fax (609) 228-2174
http://www.royaloakfarmorchard.com
http://www.theorchardkeeper.blogspot.com
http://www.revivalhymn.com
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Road's End Farm 
  To: dmnorton at royaloakfarmorchard.com ; North American Fruit Explorers 
  Sent: Tuesday, June 16, 2009 9:40 AM
  Subject: Re: [NAFEX] chemical vs organic



  On Jun 16, 2009, at 10:15 AM, <dmnorton at royaloakfarmorchard.com> wrote:


    The question is not organic vs. chemical or chemical vs. organic since organic growers do use chemicals such as Bt.  


  Every substance is chemical, which is why most organic growers use "conventional farming" to mean methods not considered organic production. (As organic grows, we may eventually need to change that term also.)


    It is the toxin from the soil bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis. In 1997 Bt was the  most heavily used pesticide on organic farms.   


  "Most heavily used" is misleading unless the actual use is known. "Most heavily" was still far less than the use of Bt currently by conventional growers using Bt-producing crops. Bt as used by organic growers was spot applied in a form that broke down quickly. Bt as currently used by conventional growers is present continuously, expressed in all cells of the plant, all season long, over far more acreage than organic growers ever used it on. 


    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".   



  Rotenone has not been acceptable for use in organic production since the Federal standards went into effect, and was controversial within the organic community for some time before that. Nicotine has not been acceptable for use in organic production for much longer -- I have never seen a published organic standard that did not prohibit nicotine (and arsenic, before somebody brings that up) and I have been farming organically since the 1970's. Pyrethrum is a restricted material for organic production; among the things the certifier would be looking at in restricted material use is whether the specific use by that grower is likely to cause problems for non-target organisms. (Natural pyrethrum is commonly used in flea products meant for cats. Overdose can indeed cause problems; but what you're really supposed to avoid entirely for cats is synthetic permethrins, which are forbidden for organic production.)

  I wish that people who are criticizing organic would read current standards first. It is no more reasonable to criticize organic production based on recommends from 1950's publications than it is to criticize conventional as if conventional growers had never figured out that crop rotation is a good idea after all.

  --Rivka
  Finger Lakes NY; zone 5 mostly
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