Sunday, March 18, 2012

More Thoughts on Pesticides (from a reader)

 Thanks to Makovitza for this comment:

"I'm not sure about the situation in other parts of the world, but in Australia "certified organic" means a lot more than just "not sprayed with pesticides". For me the three main reasons I buy organic are health, animal welfare and the environment.

Health - as well as being pesticide-free, buying organic assures me that I am not ingesting GMO foods or any synthetic food additives (preservatives, colours, flavours etc). There have also been studies showing that organic foods can be higher in nurients and antioxidants than their conventional counterparts.

Animal welfare - certified organic animals are raised in humane conditions, with ample access to pasture, shade and shelter. Battery farming and cattle feed lots are prohibited. Organic animals are also free of antibiotics, hormones, growth promotants and preservatives (whether injected directly or given through feed).

The environment - certified organic farms must use sustainable farming methods. They do not disrupt ecosystems by using synthetic pesticides/herbicides/fertilisers or pollute local river systems with chemical run-off. The use of synthetic nitrogen fertiliser is prohibited, which massively reduces the carbon footprint of organic food. Because synthetic fertiliser is not allowed organic farms must use traditional methods to build healthy topsoil, which regenerates farmland rather than stripping it. A percentage of organic farmland must be set aside for natural vegetation, to protect biodiversity. Water usage must also be sustainable, which helps to reduce the issues of salinization and riverland distruction associated with agricultural irrigation.

As I say, I don't know the situation around the world. But in Australia there are so many more reasons to buy organic than just trying to avoid chemicals. I only discovered this recently. Before that I was ambivalent - I would try to buy organic for my baby, as I reasoned that his immature system would be less able to handle chemicals, but didn't worry too much for myself. Since I learned about the ethical and environmental impacts of conventional farming and agriculture, and the fact that the organic certification prohibits the worst of these, it has become a no-brainer."

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