Displaying items by tag: pesticides

Monday, 09 September 2019 01:59

Fungicides: The Dark Side

You may be someone strongly opposed to using synthetic chemicals, an advocate for organic farming, or engrossed in natural growing methods. On the other hand, you might be a 3rd generation farmer that adopted many of the modern practices and technologies that were introduced within the last century (of about 10,000 years of agriculture), believing you cannot farm or grow food without your arsenal of synthetic chemicals, from fungicides to herbicides. Alternatively, you might just be new to it all and you find yourself faced with a BIG decision. Organic or Conventional, which path do I choose?


Well before you make your decision, let’s take a look at the things we know for a fact about fungicides and other synthetic chemicals after billions of pounds that have been used around the world. One study showed that since the 1940s, crop loss inflicted by insects pests have nearly doubled from 7% to 13% despite a clear ten-fold increase in insecticide use. Before synthetic insecticides were introduced, the crop loss from insect herbivory was 31%; it is now 37%, despite a thirty-three (33) fold increase in the volume of pesticides used and a ten-fold increase in their toxicity during the intervening half-century." [Noah's Garden, Sara Stein, p. 115]


Moreover, the US Environmental Protection Agency now says that about 70 pesticides now in use are "probable" or "possible" cancer causers. While the National Academy of Science has said, "exposures to pesticides early in life can lead to a greater risk of... cancer, neurodevelopmental impairment, and immune dysfunction". Meaning our children are in far greater danger. A recent research study suggests that children under 14 have 4 times the normal risk of contracting cancer, (soft tissue sarcoma) if their gardens have been treated with pesticides or herbicides. [North Carolina Center for Health and Environmental Statistics, New Scientist]


Further studies (4) have shown that many common pesticides used on food crops break down into estrogen as a byproduct and exposed women have at least a 4 times greater chance of getting breast cancer. Other studies have shown this same exposure will cause male sterility in animals. The Environmental Working Group, a non-profit research group, has found peeled apples that contain 8 different pesticides. Whereas a dozen different peeled fruits and vegetables were found to contain 13 different carcinogenic pesticides, 17 different pesticides that damage the nervous system, and 11 hormone-disrupting pesticides. [Acres, U.S.A., October 1994]


Now let us look at one of, if not the most widely used chemicals around the world. Many herbicides are claimed as environmentally safe, even after coming under concerning review by the highest level of scientific experts and years of public outcry of the dangers. Assorted studies on


"Roundup", a popular weed and grass killer containing glyphosate, have found the following:


  1. It is toxic to earthworms, fish, and many species of beneficial insects. [Journal of Pesticide Reform]
  2. It has also been found toxic to birds and mammals and destroys the vegetation upon which they depend for food and shelter.
  3. Soybeans and clover planted in fields previously treated have reduced ability to fix Nitrogen (convert nitrogen in the air to plant-available nitrogen). [USDA Southern Weed Science Laboratory]
  4. Reduces the growth of beneficial soil-dwelling mycorrhizal fungi. [Dalhousie University. University of Halifax, N.S.]
  5. Glyphosate makes bean plants more susceptible to disease. [Center for Pest Management, Fraser University]
  6. Sperm production in rabbits was reduced by 50% after exposure. [University of Alexandria in Egypt and University of Tromso in Norway]
  7. Roundup's active ingredient is the 3rd most commonly reported cause of pesticide illness among agricultural workers.
  8. Roundup's active ingredient is the most commonly reported cause of pesticide illness in landscape workers.
  9. Found in lettuce, carrots, and barley, even though it was applied the previous year.
  10. Reduces the disease resistance of trees


In general, Roundup shows adverse effects in all standard categories of toxicological testing (medium and long-term toxicity, genetic damage, effects on reproduction, and carcinogenicity) - does not break down into harmless substances as advertised, residues have been absorbed by subsequent crops even a year after application! [Organic Gardening July/August 1999]

Most recently, if you have seen Roundup in the media, or do a simple google search, you will find a slew of lawsuits by persons claiming the weed and grass killer caused their cancer. Thus far over US$2.1 Billion ($2,135,000,000) has been awarded in the first couple court verdicts, with hundreds of more cases pending.

Health problems like cancer, fertility problems, mental retardation, and attention deficit disorder in children, brain disorders, chemical sensitivity, etc. continue to increase. Farmers, homeowners, government and industry continue to increase their use of pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, synthetic fertilizers, and other chemicals...Do many people now wonder how strong this parallel is, coincidence OR cause and effect? Why does the public not hear more about the dangers of synthetic chemicals? Ask your officials what they are doing to protect your health and safety when it comes down to how the food you eat every day is grown.


What can we summarize from all this? To put it plain and simple, Synthetic horticultural chemicals do not work. Their contribution to our health and quality of environment causes more damage than benefit by stark contrast. We know our industrialist make a call to keep these chemicals available to protect our food security, yet in reality, we see a decline in productivity and damaged ecological systems.

Thankfully, no hope is lost and across the globe, you can find many examples of growing bountiful harvest without the use of toxic synthetic chemicals. What is more, there are still many different options and styles to choose from, while maintaining the same fundamental principles. You can go completely natural, mimicking nature’s way or you can add some technologies to the mix. We ourselves continue to advocate regenerative organic agriculture with all its long-term benefits as a solution to food and nutrition security and climate change.


Remember, it is important that you stay informed and knowledgeable about what is ‘growing on’ in your yard and what you are consuming.


Published in Facts & Info

Andre Leu's 2018 book, Poisoning Our Children: The Parent’s Guide To The Myths Of Safe Pesticides, is a book that should be read by everyone who eats food!

An updated version of his 2014 book, The Myths of Safe Pesticides, this book provides a clear discussion of the harmful health effects of inadequate regulation of toxic chemicals that are widely applied to the food we eat. 
Andre Leu reviews a vast field of technical literature and explaining clearly how these chemical can act to cause intensifying epidemics of diseases. In many cases the chemicals used are far more toxic when they “break down”, or because of the mixture of untested and allegedly “inert” materials they are mixed with, or to test the effects on the most vulnerable infants.
He  exposes the disgraceful failure of regulatory agencies around the world to protect the public from chemicals they inadvertently consume with their food that have either dangerous direct poisonous effects through chemical action, or which trigger biochemical or genetic responses that can last for generations.  
He shows that this is accomplished by widespread manipulation of data to reject sound science in place of industry-manufactured fake news about the effects of their products using “studies” that have been deliberately designed to fail to show them by using the wrong mixtures of chemicals, for the wrong length of time. 
One of the most alarming examples given is that of Glyphosate, or “Roundup” the most widely used herbicide, which is causing thousands of farm workers across Central America, Asia, and Africa, and their families to suffer severe kidney problems. The testing procedures for these chemicals ignore the toxic mix of other chemicals which are added because they increase the activity of the toxic chemicals, but which are labelled as “inert” so they are exempt from testing! Thousands are dying from these chemicals while the companies producing them are getting rich while denying that there is any effect at all.   
Andre Leu deserves public thanks for putting this important information out. Andre is the former President of The International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM - Organics International), the worldwide umbrella organization for some 800 affiliates in 117 countries, and has led efforts to promote organic farming methods for healthier food. At the same time he has been a leader in global efforts to regenerate our planet’s health and reverse climate change by using agricultural methods that heal soil by regenerating their soil carbon. 
A few weeks ago Andre Leu showed me his magnificent organic tropical fruit tree farm in the Daintree Rainforest area of Queensland, Australia. His soil had healthy lumps in a wide range of sizes, which allowed water poured onto the ground to soak straight down where roots can use it, so his farm stayed green even though the area was suffering from record high temperatures and the most severe drought in memory. 
In contrast the sugar cane farm soil surface was baked hard like concrete, so water poured onto it runs right off the surface, carrying topsoil with it into rivers and into the sea, where it has killed the coral reefs that used to line Queensland shores. 
I had just the day before walked the dead reef with the Aboriginal Australian community who used to live from harvesting the abundant life of the coral reefs and seagrass beds, that were now dead and smothered in mud, with the dead corals overgrown by weedy algae that bloom prolifically because of all the agricultural fertilizers washed off the farm with the soil. 
The difference is that Andre’s soil has more than 6 times more organic matter in it, from composting, so it holds much more water and has a longer growing season. He took soil samples from his farm and from the conventional sugar cane farm next door, added water, and stirred. His soil kept together, and the water soon cleared, but the sugar cane farm soil turned into a muddy slurry that remained turbid hours later. 
If all the farms used his methods, we could keep the soil, the nutrients, and the water in the ground where it is most useful, instead of flushing it into the ocean and killing our most productive marine ecosystems.
I strongly urge everyone to read this book, and ask their own families and friends read it too, for a better future for their own health and that of the planet they live on!
Thomas J. F. Goreau, PhD is the President of the Global Coral Reef Alliance, Biorock Technology Inc.,
Coordinator of the Soil Carbon Alliance and the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development
Small Island Developing States Partnership in New Sustainable Technologies. 
He is also the author of:
 Geotherapy: Innovative Methods of Soil Fertility Restoration, Carbon Sequestration, and Reversing CO2 Increase

Innovative Methods of Marine Ecosystem Restoration
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Published in Facts & Info
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