United States Edition

How Organic is Organic? Is buying organic really worth it?

  • hotwired 71 plants United States5b

    I’ve been struggling with this issue a lot over the last couple of years. For some things it makes a lot of sense, especially when it comes to pesticides. The dilemma is where to draw the line; with organic seeds, organic fertilizers, buying only organic produce and meat.

    Organic Seeds: Is it really worth buying organic seeds? Does it really matter? Here’s my take on it. Organic seeds are usually harvested from plants that have struggled and survived without all the chemicals that allow a low-stress existence. Struggling equates to hardy plants and good genetics. The seeds store fatty acids and chemicals that are needed to germinate. They can also store pesticide residue and other chemicals. Once a seed germinates, the chemicals are transferred into the plant. There are, however, miniscule amounts of bad stuff to be concerned about.

    Commercial Organic Fertilizers: I have a problem with organic fertilizers, in that they are not always so organic. The other issue is that the nutrient – micronutrient balance is not always correct.

    As far as actually being Organic, just to pick one element (Calcium), many organic fertilizer companies use clam, muscle, and oyster shells because they are considered as an organic source, are abundant, cheap, and have a very high content of calcium. They also contain Mercury, Arsenic, Lead, and a host of other heavy metals which is absorbed by the plant and ultimately the fruit. Many use powdered egg shells for calcium, and chicken manure for a source of Nitrate Nitrogen. That chicken manure is purchased in large quantities from chicken producers. Large chicken farms pump their chickens full of antibiotics, which ultimately ends up in significant quantities in the manure and egg shells used in the organic fertilizers that is used to produce organic vegetables that you pay extra for or that you are growing.

    I wrote about this a while back in the fertilizer group. A few years ago, a Cornell Ag-School grad student did his thesis on chemical analysis of organic fertilizers, and did significant research on where the companies sourced their materials. As I understand it, the paper started out as a comparison of organic to chemical fertilizers. Thinking that because they were organic fertilizer manufacturers, the Companies obviously thought that this would portray them in a good light. As a Cornell “researcher”, he was able to acquire data that the average Joe could have never gotten access to. Unfortunately the kid took a lot of heat for getting data under false pretenses. It turned out to be more of an investigative reporting paper than a comparison. I guess he called the chicken manure sources saying he was doing a paper on disease control in poultry farming, and got a laundry list of chemicals and antibiotics given to their chickens. He was very specific about product names, and publishing a complete chemical analysis of each. It was a giant bee’s nest.

    Compost and Homebrew Additives: Many of us use a lot of garbage in our compost, literally. It’s a good idea to know what you’re adding. If you are adding eggshells from your grocery store, then you’re adding antibiotics from the commercial chicken factories. If you picture chickens pecking corn in a large fenced area, and laying eggs in those spacious nest, then you’re living in a dream world. They pack them in at 2 sq.ft. / chicken and load them up with antibiotics. I’m sure the corn they eat was loaded with pesticides, which ultimately ends up in those eggshells. Unless you pay extra (organic) for those peppers that go into your salad and then into the compost, you’re adding pesticides. I always am amazed at the gardeners that bring home trailers full of free compost provided by the city, town or county solid waste works. Or those that get free mulch from the county. You know all those blighted tomato plants and herbicide laden grass cuttings that everyone got rid of last year? It’s in the compost and mulch. Others toss kelp in their compost. In 100 grams of Kelp there is 12mg of Arsenic (1.2%), 2.1µg of Mercury, 30µg of Lead, 21mg of Aluminum, and 3700mg of sodium (3.7%). Those same chemicals are in the Kelp Fertilizer that claims to be so organic. This is one of the reasons that I use good Compost and supplement with chemicals, however, I try to avoid compounds or synthetic chemicals.

    Organic Vegetables in the Store: For all of the reasons stated above, I’m not sure that organic vegetables are worth the cost, yet I keep buying them. My real dilemma is still How organic is organic?

    Here’s the best thing to come out of my dilemma.

    I have found the ideal organic fertilizer that has a proper balance of micronutrients as well as NPK nutrients. I researched Neem Oil and it turned out to be nearly a perfect fertilizer in terms of balance. l also had sticker shock. There is a Neem Manure or Neen Cake available that contains the exact same chemicals and balance. Neem oil is produced in India and is a peasant crop, meaning that it is the source of income for large populations. It is produced by pressing neem seeds to extract the oil in what looks like a large wine press. The pulp and seed casings left behind are in cakes and sold as Neem manure which is an organic fertilizers with virtually no bad stuff in it. The Neem plant grows wild and is highly resistant to pests, so they never get sprayed with pesticides. No big Companies have jumped into the market and developed low-cost ways to extract the oil chemically. It is seriously something to look into.

    10 thumbs up!
    Posted over 2 years ago | Last edited over 2 years ago
  • creme

    Folia Helper

    176 plants United States5

    I never thought about that problem with the egg shells. I really wish I could raise chickens.

  • 1 thumbs up!
    Posted over 2 years ago
  • Amarylis

    Folia Helper

    175 plants United Kingdom8a

    I understand your dilemma with bq. How organic is organic? Personally we don’t buy many organic products because as you say, Hotwired, How organic is organic?: We can never be sure & the extra cost really doesn’t seem worthwhile.

    We are trying to source our veg from the allotment but most fruit, other than soft fruit, has to be bought at the supermarket. I don’t use weedkillers or pesticides on the allotment. The only fertilizer I use is commercial tomato fertilizer & even that I may not use this year as we have Comfrey on the plot & I will be looking to use it to make my own fertilizer.

  • 2 thumbs up!
    Posted over 2 years ago | Last edited over 2 years ago
  • 233 plants Canada5b

    Hotwired, thank you for your eloquent & organized way of writing about the vague thoughts that I’m not sure how to express!
    .
    As far as buying organic seeds – The easiest way to be sure of what you are getting is to save your garden seeds. I hope that one day my seed stock will all be saved from my plantings. Although, now I am a trading fiend!
    .
    Luckily we have our own hens & don’t worry too much about eggs/eggshells – but even then there is controversy about store bought feed. In a climate where the growing season is quite short it is hard to produce & store enough over the summer to feed the hens through the winter. We have to feed them the store bought grain. Then again, they don’t lay very much in the winter. The summer is easier. They mainly free range. Look up free range and Omega 3 eggs to see learn of yet another controversy. “Free range” or “Omega 3” labelled eggs in grocery store likely aren’t produced the way that you think. You are better off to going to a farm with a sign on the driveway saying “free range” and then ask to see where the hens free range, what they are fed… at least that way you know what you are buying.
    .
    I’m not so sure that these days anything can be truly “organic.” Whenever it rains countless chemicals end up in our plants. Everything that we have done to the earth has a consequence. I like to hope that gardeners who go to the trouble of reading things like this are more likely to grow more organically than store labelled “organic” produce. A great compliment to a gardener (especially one like me who doesn’t claim to be completely organic) is that friends & family & other gardeners are happy to eat my produce & know that it is likely better for them than 95% of the things that you can buy in a grocery store, labelled organic or not.
    .
    I try to plant as naturally as I can. I rotate my crops & companion plant. I add as much home made compost as I can produce. I use a lot of composted chicken manure. I always hope that this is enough to keep things going in a good cycle. Its the best that I can do – unless I hear of new things to try. I don’t label myself as an organic gardener & likely never will. I think that the label is used far too often as a marketing ploy. I don’t begrudge any single gardener that uses that label themselves. They must be committed to following the principles as best they can & are likely fairly successful.
    .
    I think that Hotwired is a fantastic example of a gardener who does a really thorough job researching ingredients & consuming what he produces year round. His preservation tequniques and storage facilities (I am still jealous of his multiple freezers) must lower the amount of food that he must buy. Self sufficiency (or trading strawberries for peaches) seems to be the easiest way to ensure the most organic produce.
    .
    I used Neem oil in my garden last year. It cleared up a few issues with pests & leaf spot in my greenhouse & I actually had hollyhocks leaves that weren’t see through for the first time ever. I really liked it. I will definately look into the cakes as a fertilizer. (Odd aside – I loved the smell)
    .
    Good grief I am yappy today! (:

  • 5 thumbs up!
    Posted over 2 years ago | Last edited over 2 years ago
  • 34 plants United States7b

    >free compost provided by the city, town or county solid waste works

    Some municipalities test their compost for heavy metals; I know mine does. Frankly, if I had to buy that much dirt (from where? do they test?), I couldn’t afford to garden.

  • 0 thumbs up!
    Posted over 2 years ago
  • creme

    Folia Helper

    176 plants United States5

    As for food purchased at the grocery, I try to make sensible choices based on what foods are known to be most contaminated with pesticides. When possible I grow these myself, buy organic, or do not eat them.

    See the list of “the dirty dozen” at Environmental Working Group:

    http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary/

    Eat your fruits and vegetables! The health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure. Use EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides to reduce your exposures as much as possible, but eating conventionally-grown produce is far better than not eating fruits and vegetables at all. The Shopper’s Guide to Pesticide in Produce will help you determine which fruits and vegetables have the most pesticide residues and are the most important to buy organic. You can lower your pesticide intake substantially by avoiding the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables and eating the least contaminated produce.

    Commodity crop corn used for animal feed and biofuels is almost all produced with genetically modified (GMO) seeds, as is some sweet corn sold for human consumption. Since GMO sweet corn is not labeled as such in US stores, EWG advises those who have concerns about GMOs to buy organic sweet corn.

  • 2 thumbs up!
    Posted over 2 years ago
  • Folia Supporter
    165 plants United States6a

    The corn situation seems to have gotten very scary. Canned corn used to be a staple veggie in our home over the winter just because the kids enjoyed it. Now, if I did not have enough in the garden to freeze we just do not eat it out of season. We grow some of our own and are lucky enough to live in an area where a few small farmers still plant traditional non-GMO varieties. Although even that is iffy as we are surrounded by other small farms with posted Monsanto signs. And corn does wind-pollinate across quite a distance. We are also lucky to still have farmers in our area who fertilize with manure. I try to be practical and sensible and not automatically demonize growers who use other methods, but as more local farms spray their crops with chemical fertilizers, I find myself having to stay home more and more often during certain times of the year. I can smell the stuff over some distance and it makes me ill. So I cannot imagine that it can possibly be healthy even after the smell is gone.

  • 1 thumbs up!
    Posted over 2 years ago
  • 291 plants Canada3a

    It’s a very slippery slope.
    Buying anything “organic” or otherwise.
    Labels do lie, or at least they do not tell the whole truth.

  • 0 thumbs up!
    Posted over 2 years ago
  • 71 plants United States5b

    It will soon be impossible to buy non-GMO corn. The cross pollination is contaminating conventional crops as well as organic crops because the pollen will travel for miles. This will be my first year of growing crops in hoop houses with filtered ventilation (furnace filters). I’m isolating my tomatoes in a 10′×40′ hoophouse and my peppers in a 10′×20′ hoophouse this year. The purpose is two-fold. I hope to avoid fungal diseases by keeping splattering rain off the tomatoes, and isolate the plants from pollens and airborne contaminants. Over the next three years I hope to have all my crops under cover including my strawberries. My wife gives me a garden budget and if I exceed it, I have to match the overage in jewelry purchases. Needless to say, my wife has some nice jewelry.

  • 8 thumbs up!
    Posted over 2 years ago
  • Folia Supporter
    165 plants United States6a

    My European cousins grow a lot of their veggies “under glass,” which these days translates to inside a greenhouse. They even have their veggie seed catalog divided up according to which ones are meant for greenhouse and which for open fields. This extends their season for cukes, tomatoes, and peppers and also ensures a very controlled environment. Unfortunately, Monsanto is getting its tentacles into European areas as well, but the general pubic over there seems to be quite against GMOs.

  • 1 thumbs up!
    Posted over 2 years ago
  • 233 plants Canada5b

    “My wife gives me a garden budget and if I exceed it, I have to match the overage in jewelry purchases. Needless to say, my wife has some nice jewelry.”

    That made me laugh… I agreed to a hot tub purchase at Christmas hoping to get away with a bit more $ in the garden this year. Wow I hope my husband NEVER reads any of my posts!

  • 2 thumbs up!
    Posted over 2 years ago
  • creme

    Folia Helper

    176 plants United States5

    Monsanto makes me so freaking angry.

  • 0 thumbs up!
    Posted over 2 years ago
  • Folia Supporter
    463 plants United Kingdom8b

    Buying organic bagged compost: I did last spring when my first load of non-organic ran out and I visited a local farm shop. It was a disaster, curling & distorting the leaves of the tomatoes grown in it. In large print it proudly proclaimed that no peat was used – reading the small print I found it to contain composted green waste i.e.municipal waste. I concluded that some of this must have been from weedkiller treated grass/plants as the tomato plant damage was what I’d expect from spray drift on agricultural land. Needless to say these plants were a write off – I wouldn’t have wanted to consume the toms anyway. The retailer replaced the bags I returned to him with another brand but I won’t be buying that brand ever again.

  • 0 thumbs up!
    Posted over 2 years ago
  • 0 plants United States

    Are we maybe asking the wrong question? All chemical inputs persist in the environment and pollute our water and toxify our bodies, whether we put them there or the companies that produced the food did. I am trained in soil science, and understand too well the negative effects that chemicals have on soil microorganisms, which in turn makes the minerals not available. I buy organic seeds from reputable sellers that do not let their parent plants struggle because they feed the soil, which produces superior seeds. Well-grown organic plants do not struggle, but thrive. Do some research on growing high Brix food, this field has been contributed to by all fields of nutrition, including human and animal. I understand your concerns, but I wish we would all stop using and buying all chemicals, they are not sustainable and this can and has been proven.

  • 0 thumbs up!
    Posted over 2 years ago
  • 0 plants United States

    Hotwired,
    I don’t know if this will help, but there is a lot of scientific research about the composting process. The microbial activity within a compost pile breaks down all kinds of chemical compounds, even those in nature that are extremely difficult to break down like cellulose. The activity of the microbes is also why the compost pile gets so hot. Pesticides will be long gone within a month. Chemical compounds, like those used in pesticides, herbicides and fungicides, break down extremely quickly during the compost process because of the activity of microbes within the soil. Also, plant and animal pathogens are destroyed during the composting process. Weed seeds are also destroyed. When buying compost for your home garden, the important thing is not if it is “organic”, but if it has been composted properly.

  • 4 thumbs up!
    Posted over 2 years ago
  • creme

    Folia Helper

    176 plants United States5

    I do not believe that is the case for all chemical compounds. There are some herbicides that are know to survive the composting process. I’ll have to dig out references to which from a series Mother earth news ran last year.

    It may be the case that SOME pesticides, herbicides and synthetic chemicals break down in hot composting, but that is not true for all. Therefore we must exercise caution and closely examine our composting sources. This is very difficult to do without labeling requirements on commercial compost.

    There’s also no guarantee that commecial composts are properly composted with hot process.

  • 0 thumbs up!
    Posted over 2 years ago
  • 0 plants United States

    “There’s also no guarantee that commecial composts are properly composted with hot process.” That’s why you need to take a tour of their composting facility and/or ask them for their composting procedure. I would be VERY interested in the research that states which herbicides/pesticides can survive proper composting. I think your emphasis on SOME is extreme and based on emotional feelings/beliefs and has little to no scientific data to back it up. There may be a small handful of organic (in the chemistry sense of the word organic) compounds that can survive and need to have a longer-than-normal composting period but this would be the exception to the rule. It’s even a smaller chance that these compounds were even used on the plants that were composted. This is not something people should be loosing sleep over.

  • 0 thumbs up!
    Posted over 2 years ago
  • 3 plants United States6b

    The only way our planet will sustain itself will be by having more of our land be used to grow our food supply in an organic way.We can all do our part by buying organic foods whenever we can.This will accomplish 2 things, We will all benefit from the lack of industrial fertilizers and additives in our food supply and we will encourage more small farmers to grow organically..

  • 1 thumbs up!
    Posted over 2 years ago
  • 71 plants United States5b

    I guess I poked a stick in the bee’s nest. At least it gets people thinking and questioning the things that we take for granted.

    sbro4630 ….. I agree that a lot of the bad things are killed off, IF the compost is prepared properly, except that’s a “big if” with municipal compost. The heavy metals are still going to be there.

  • 1 thumbs up!
    Posted over 2 years ago
  • creme

    Folia Helper

    176 plants United States5

    I like bees, hotwired :)

    Mind you, sbro and morrylev, I am not suggesting we should use synthetic herbicides and pesticides anyway. I’m saying I don’t take it at face value that stuff labeled “organic” is wholly free of contamination. I don’t take it at face value when producers of synthetic or organic herbicides and pesticides label their products as safe for the environment. I try to look past the marketing.

    I will dig for formal research when I can.

    In the meantime, here are some links to the Mother Earth News Magazines that alerted me to the problem of contaminated compost:

    As we reported in July 2009, clopyralid and its close cousin, aminopyralid, easily persist, sometimes for YEARS!, in hay, manure and compost. When contaminated materials are used in food gardens, tomatoes, beans and other sensitive crops develop curled foliage that looks like a disease, if they grow at all.

    Read more: http://www.motherearthnews.com/Grow-It/Contaminated-Compost-Clopyralid-Aminopyralid-Pyralid-Dow-Chemicals-Toxins.aspx#ixzz1ljSewOBD

    A simple test to rule out compost contamination by clopyralid and aminopyralid:

    http://www.motherearthnews.com/ask-our-experts/simple-compost-test.aspx

    The aminopyralid herbicide known as Milestone, plus other related herbicides collectively known as pyralids (sold under the brands Confront, Curtail, Forefront, Hornet, Lontrel, Millenium Ultra, Reclaim, Stinger and Transline), are still surfacing unexpectedly in gardens throughout the United States, with devastating results. The EPA allows Dow and others to sell these potent weed killers to farmers, who spray them on their pastures and hayfields. When animals graze on the treated pasture or hay, the chemicals pass through the animals and persist in the manure for several years — even if the manure is processed into compost! Gardeners then use the contaminated hay or compost on their crops, bringing a slow death to carrots, lettuces, potatoes, beets, spinach, tomatoes and legumes, including (but not limited to) beans and peas.

    This is not a minor or isolated problem. In Montana, laboratory tests confirmed pyralid toxicity in soil samples from 17 counties across the state. Pennsylvania’s state weed specialist has received several reports of contamination, and numerous North Carolina vegetable growers have lost crops to contaminated mulch, hay or compost. Whatcom County in Washington has been hit especially hard, with losses to community gardens and several organic farms estimated at hundreds of thousands of dollars. Those affected think the source of the contamination was cow manure used to produce local composts.

    These poisons are so powerful that residues can damage sensitive crops at levels as low as 10 parts per billion, according to an Ohio State University fact sheet. Sensitive plants may show symptoms quickly in heavily contaminated soil, or damage may not be apparent for weeks. As the leaves of affected plants curl and shrivel, gardeners often wrongly assume their plants have been hit by a disease or aerial herbicide drift.

    Read more: http://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/killer-compost-zmgz11zrog.aspx#ixzz1ljTDpjjF

  • 1 thumbs up!
    Posted over 2 years ago | Last edited over 2 years ago
  • creme

    Folia Helper

    176 plants United States5

    Some compost producers are concerned enough about the problem they are trying to get these chemicals banned as herbicides. There’s a lot at stake, as growers and producers lose their organic certification if they use the contaminated compost.

    Grab n’ Grow a California mulch and compost producer has started a petition to the Sonoma County, CA, to act to keep clopyralid out of compost feedstocks including manure. Grab n’ Grow also has more information on their site http://www.grabngrowsoil.com/clopyralidinformation.htm

  • 1 thumbs up!
    Posted over 2 years ago
  • creme

    Folia Helper

    176 plants United States5

    Q. How long does it take for material contaminated with any of these three persistent herbicides to become non-toxic for sensitive plants?

    A. “Depending on the situation the herbicides can be deactivated in as few as 30 days, but some field reports indicate that the breakdown can take as long as three to four years.” (Davis, Dr. Jeanine, “Herbicide Carryover in Hay, Manure, Compost, and Grass Clippings,”) on-line at: http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/fletcher/programs/ncorganic/special-pubs/herbicide_carryover.pdf

    http://www.rachelcarsoncouncil.org/index.php?page=a-gardener-alert—update

  • 0 thumbs up!
    Posted over 2 years ago
  • creme

    Folia Helper

    176 plants United States5

    sbro said:

    “There’s also no guarantee that commecial composts are properly composted with hot process.” That’s why you need to take a tour of their composting facility and/or ask them for their composting procedure. I would be VERY interested in the research that states which herbicides/pesticides can survive proper composting. I think your emphasis on SOME is extreme and based on emotional feelings/beliefs and has little to no scientific data to back it up. There may be a small handful of organic (in the chemistry sense of the word organic) compounds that can survive and need to have a longer-than-normal composting period but this would be the exception to the rule. It’s even a smaller chance that these compounds were even used on the plants that were composted. This is not something people should be loosing sleep over.

    (emphasis mine)
    For what it’s worth, I am trained as a scientist (not a soil scientist, but a scientist none-the-less). I take evaluation of source materials and research very seriously. I’m not apt to make emotionally laden decisions or statements on these topics.

    Actually, I find your statement to be full of broad generalization and dismissive ad hominem attack. But just you go on with your request for sciency stuff and that cute pat on my head. I’ll see what I can do for ya.

    hotwired, I do hope you are not pushed away by the debate. I for one welcome and relish a good, healthy tete a tete on hot topics.

  • 1 thumbs up!
    Posted over 2 years ago | Last edited over 2 years ago
  • creme

    Folia Helper

    176 plants United States5

    Some research references on heavy metal contamination in compost, implications and possible remediation.

    1. At NIH

    2. Also at NIH

  • 1 thumbs up!
    Posted over 2 years ago | Last edited over 2 years ago
  • 0 plants United States

    Thanks for posting the articles. As a scientist, you will also recognize that this research is all centered on finding 1 class of herbicides. Of the 28 classes of herbicides this one class would be an exception to the rule (i.e. the small handful), and it would be worth investigating further to see if a longer composting period could also degrade these compounds. If these chemicals persist after a longer composting period then they should definitely be banned. Composting is no trivial event. It is process that completely transforms complex materials in a way that is similar (although not identical) to incineration. Finding herbicides in soil samples is not surprising and is nothing new. What would be worrisome would be to find these compounds in well-composted material.
    Heavy metals could be a problem in both “organic” and “non-organic” production. It would be great if there was a standard/testing that could be established to help consumers make educated decisions about the compost they are purchasing.
    Creme,
    I apologize that you were offend by my statement. I am also a scientist and have a PhD in plant molecular genetics. Many of forums are places for people to come and share their feelings about a particular topic even if they are completely wrong based on the data. I grow increasing tired of this. Really, thanks for posting these articles.

  • 1 thumbs up!
    Posted over 2 years ago
  • creme

    Folia Helper

    176 plants United States5

    Excellent, then we are in agreement! No offense was taken. I just like to jump on a challenge. I will look forward to learning a lot from you.

    I do understand what you are saying about the research I’ve posted being about one type of herbicides, and that most compounds do break down in the composting process. The problem I have is that even if there are only a few nasty ones out there, when consumers are not informed they are at risk. Reports indicate that a lot of consumers are being affected by this.

    There are a few other herbicides I’ve read about in the past year that research is finding are more persistent that previously believed. I’ve posted PSAs about them somewhere at folia, but it will take me a bit of time to look them up.

    (I should also note here, as I have in the past when members get into a good debate-discussion, that my “internet home” is a debate-discussion forum. I am accustomed to jumping into these talks with a lot more vigor than I know many in this community appreciate or are used to. I’ve considered starting a “debate/discussion group” but given the lack of traffic on the majority of groups here, I don’t think it would work out. I rarely take anything personally on the internet, and work to keep my arguments objective and impersonal. My apologies in advance to this group if anybody is offended by my approach to the topic. I am unlikely to change my wicked ways, though, as I find great value in strong discussion of differing perspectives, ideas and opinions).

  • 2 thumbs up!
    Posted over 2 years ago | Last edited over 2 years ago
  • creme

    Folia Helper

    176 plants United States5

    sbro, I am curious to know your thoughts on the persistence of glyphosate and the surfectants used in herbicides such as RoundUp. I was particularly disturbed by reports of it in the Mississippi River waterways and valleys last year.

    I’d read new research in recent months indicating it is more persistent in the environment than the public has been led to believe. Of course there are many years worth of reports that it is toxic in many ways, far from the benign helper that Monsanto would have us believe.

    I have not yet looked specifically at persistence and possible effects of glyphosate in compost.

    I know a guy who is a research scientist at Dekalb Corn. It’s interesting how different his opinions about Roundup are from those of the Monsanto critics. He, like the other industry scientists, tells me that Roundup is harmless and does not linger in any harmful way in the soil (or rather, that it is chemically bound to the soil and rendered harmless to other plants and organisms around it). But this information is opposite so many other reports I have read. Too bad we can’t separate the money from the science.

    USGS Release: Widely Used Herbicide Commonly Found in… Mississippi River Basin

  • 1 thumbs up!
    Posted over 2 years ago | Last edited over 2 years ago
  • creme

    Folia Helper

    176 plants United States5

    I’m also concerned about Round-up ready alfalfa now being fed to livestock. It’s reasonable to assume, given historical trends on the use of Monsanto’s GM seed in commercial agriculture, that GM alfalfa will soon dominate the market. That means most of our cows and horses will be eating either GM corn or alfalfa.

    Then they poop. That manure is composted and sold to the public.

    I don’t know anything about the implications of this yet, it’s one of the billion things on my list to learn about. Thoughts, anybody?

    edited to move link to appropriate post.

  • 0 thumbs up!
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  • 71 plants United States5b

    Now days, it’s a matter of eating food that does the least amount of damage to the body. Absolutely nothing is safe including water.

    Just North of me, there is a dozen cases of Turrets diagnosed in teenagers in one high school over the last 90 days. Turns out the high school contracted to have “fracking” done during the summer on the school property, in exchange for free natural gas plus cash. For those of you who aren’t aware of fracking, it’s horizontal drilling for natural gas and pumping in pressurized water and an “undisclosed chemical” into the well. It’s getting into the ground water. They are claiming that the chemical is a trade secret, so no one can find out what it is. Erin Brockovich and a crew showed up to do a water test, and were turned away until they got a court order. As I said, nothing is safe from toxins.

  • 1 thumbs up!
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  • creme

    Folia Helper

    176 plants United States5

    Sorry to serial post. This topic is really interesting to me, so I’m looking stuff up while it’s fresh in mind.

    Another newish concern is Imprelis (active ingredient aminocyclopyrachlor), a turf herbicide. Reports sprang up across the US and abroad last year of sudden tree death, especially spruce and pine trees. They were linked to Imprelis use and in some reports contaminated compost or mulch was suspected. Of course, DuPont denied the connection. The product has been recalled. Research is new and ongoing, I’m not sure yet what’s specifically out there about persistence in compost but the US Composting Council was concerned enough to release this alert:

    http://compostingcouncil.org/admin/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Imprelis-alert-final.pdf

    This one hits home with me because my next door neighbor suddenly lost several old growth spruce trees last year. Imprelis is suspected.

  • 0 thumbs up!
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  • creme

    Folia Helper

    176 plants United States5

    Now days, it’s a matter of eating food that does the least amount of damage to the body. Absolutely nothing is safe including water.

    I so agree, hotwired. It’s hard not to be pessimistic. I set out to grow as much of my own food as possible so I’d have at least a modicum of control over what is sprayed and spread on it, in it or under it.

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  • creme

    Folia Helper

    176 plants United States5

    This 2002 FactSheet from CalRecycle is a bit dated, but gives a helpful summary of the types of processes that occur during composting to help break down pesticides. A few problematic pesticides are noted, but as stated above [i]with proper thermophilic composting[/i] are rendered “mostly harmless”.*

    Persistence and Degredation of Pesticides in Composting

    A similar factsheet from Ohio University
    with focus on Clopyralid, a pesticide which is known to persist in quantities signficant enough to have impact on crops. Data references from 1990s through 2000.

    I reserve a certain amount of critical skepticism when reviewing agricultural research from midwestern universities who receive large levels of funding support from Monsanto and other ag giants.

    *Thanks to Douglas Adams for reminding us how absurd a concept like “mostly harmless” can be.

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  • 0 plants United States

    That factsheet from Ohio University is very informative too. Thanks.
    The question about glyphosate is so timely. I just attended a conference and a few of the speakers’ topics were on different herbicides. Hannah Mathers from OSU’s extension gave some interesting insight into glyphosate. She stated that glyphosate by itself degrades very rapidly on the soil (the microbes break this down very quickly, but if it is encapsulated within a plant (dead or alive), then it can persist in the soil for at up to 2 years. She showed some pictures of plants that were damaged from growing around the roots of dead plants that had been treated with glyphosate. This does not happen all the time, but there are some instances where it can injure plants.
    The discussion about Imprelis is also very timely. David Gardner, also from OSU, spoke and he was one of the scientists that originally tested this product before it was released. He showed pictures of his experimental plots where he had applied Imprelis on lawns that were surrounded by ornamental plants. None of the ornamentals were damaged in his initial study. After it was released, they had some people complaining about dead trees and damaged plants. They did some more tests and this time, they saw very detrimental effects. Imprelis has since been pulled from the shelves and is no longer available for sale. It was so extreme, it makes me wonder if the company somehow changed the way it was formulated. It was dramatic in the photographs.

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  • 71 plants United States5b

    Paul P just did a post on PA State College’s Compost project. The did an analysis of the compost, which I’m pretty sure was composted the correct way. The analysis showed lead, arsenic, and mercury. They did not allow meat, or animal dung in their compost, which is probably why there were lower levels of contaminates and heavy metals (parts/million) than in commercial fertilizers and even organic fertilizers.

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  • 0 plants United States

    sbro4630
    In my soil science classes, we did experiments in soil science that soil in areas that had not been sprayed with glyphosate before, and it was true it broke down relatively quickly. However, after being sprayed several times, it was not true. glyphosate kills off the microbes that break it down in healthy soil.
    I am always skeptical about any university testing on chemicals. big agra gives so much money to the agricultural schools that the schools cannot afford to tell the truth about testing or to do honest testing. Thank God my soil science prof was not bought off by big agra and showed us the truth. After about 3 treatments, it persists longer and longer in the soil at higher and higher levels. It washes into the rivers and eventually into the groundwater. It is in all non organic food and due to the persistence also in most organic food. It does not break down as monsanto would have us believe. Independent scientists prove this over and over again, but the big bucks buy their way in and manipulate the results and the reporting of the statistics. In France, where they don’t even grow much gmo frankenfood, thus have a reduced use of glyphosate, they are reporting several times the allowable levels of these man made chemicals in their groundwater. Please research this. Do not blindly accept the studies, and instead follow the money and who will benefit from manipulating them, the funding of the studies, the pasts of the people and companies involved in the studies, the way the statistics were computed…. Thank you.

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  • 261 plants Canada8a

    It’s possible for municipalities to ban such horrors. We are not able to use – nor buy – any sort of chemical weed killers (glyphosate et al) any more. Of course, that doesn’t mean that people don’t – they just import them illegally from the US!

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  • 0 plants United States

    olympiapaz,
    Did your soil professor publish this work? He or she would be stupid not to especially if other experiments of that kind have not really been done before. I wonder what the biological limit is for glyphosate degradation and how far apart the applications must be applied for complete degradation.
    Although I can’t speak for all big agra, I can say that as a scientist, falsifying data is a major offense and the individual may end up loosing their job and papers retracted. Their entire career could be lost from a single falsification. For these 2 individuals I mentioned, neither lab is funded by Monsanto. I know that the company that developed Imprelis paid Dr. Gardner to do his research, and Dr. Mathers gets her funding from the USDA. The labs at big Ag schools get their funding from a variety of sources. They all get funding from the State government. One lab may receive funding from Monsanto while the lab across the hall may be receiving funding from a completely different source.
    Dr. Mathers researches how glyphosate around thin-barked trees can reduce their cold hardiness—not exactly a glowing review of the benefits of glyphosate.
    Research scientists are often approached by organizations with problems. For example, a tree farmer may notice that the barks of their trees crack after roundup applications. They would then approach a scientist that specializes in that field and ask them to do a proper experiment. Along with the request comes funding. The scientist does the research and publishes the results.
    I’m not saying that all scientists are honest people, but I think the major of scientists are trying to find real answers and are honest individuals.
    Finally, in science you can easily find contradicting results within literature. That is why the same topic is often researched multiple times and by different labs.

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