[NAFEX] chemical vs organic

Mark Angermayer hangermayer at isp.com
Tue Jun 16 16:35:43 EDT 2009

Rivka wrote:

"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."


You tend to view the word "organic" in a very legal definition.  But as you are aware, "organic" means a lot of different things to a lot of different people.  As you know, to a chemist, "organic" means carbon based chemistry.  An OMRI definition is something quite different.  But to most people, most consumers, natural = organic.  Therefore, to most people Rotenone would be "organic" in their mind.  I've read lot's of comments on the Internet than indicates a lot of folks think this way.  I think Dennis was referring to the most common vernacular definition, not a specific legal definition that would require OMRI certification.  In support of this, I might add that a lot of websites advertise Rotenone as "organic".


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