Displaying items by tag: science

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
Thursday, 30 May 2019 04:13

The Blue Talk - UNDP & UWI

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus have partnered to present a series of talks on the Blue Economy.

With its inaugural session now complete, The Blue Talk brought together leading innovators in the field to engage with the public on the unique opportunities that the blue economy provides.

Read More.

Published in News
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