1/25: Is using pesticides a risk in farming?

Moderated by Rick Badie

Agribusiness is Georgia’s leading industry, but seldom do we hear anything positive about pesticides, particularly that they bode well for us and the environment.

Today, David C. Bridges, president of Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, touts the value of chemical use in farming. Jay Feldman points to the risks of pesticides and the benefits of organic farming.

3 comments Add your comment

Sal A

January 25th, 2012
7:31 am

Organic agriculture is mired in myths. It is not sustainable. It is not healthier. It is not good for farmworkers. It is not small and local.

Organic, due to inefficiencies linked to uncontrolled weeds and pests, requires more land and labor. It produces less food on more land. Organic uses chemical pesticides – just “natural” ones like rotenone and copper sulphates. In some cases organic requires higher concentrations and more frequent applications of these “natural” pesticides. These natural pesticides are highly toxic and linked to cancers and diseases like Parkinson’s.

Organic use of manure over processed fertilizers requires more cows and farm animals to produce that manure – a very inefficient form of fertilizer when you need to feed a whole world. It’s OK if you’re a hobby farmer in Connecticut whose neighbors don’t mind the smell of farm animals. The use of manure in organic agriculture is also tied to higher risk of contamination. Each year there are ample cases of e-Coli and related food contamination deaths and illness tied to organically produced foods.

Today, the vast majority of organic foods found in supermarkets are produced by organic mega-farms thousands of miles away. Organic farms have been specifically excluded from farmworker health and safety measures, like the banning of short hoes used in back-breaking weeding needed on organic farms.

These organic foods are often more processed, i.e., most organic dairy products are ultra-pasteurized and organic fruits and vegetables sold at Whole Foods fumigated with chemical ethylene blockers, to give them longer shelf life.

Organic is a marketing scheme pure and simple. It creates false fears about other safe, conventionally produced foods to get us to pay premiums for foods a that are not safer and worse for the environment in the long haul.

Real sustainable agriculture requires we use any and all tools available to grow more food on less land in the safest, cost effective and most environmentally responsible ways.


January 24th, 2012
9:01 pm

Organic costs more because of supply and demand. Organic food production has been shown to be cheaper in the long run as it does less harm to the soil, requires lower amounts of fertilizer, promotes healthier, more nutrient rich crops, etc. Fertilizer and chemical companies pay lots of money to agriculture programs at colleges and universities. Monsanto, the greatest destroyer of humanity on the planet with their GMO crops, gives literally billions of dollars to pay off folks like Mr. Bridges to promote their chemically-dependent agribusiness ways.

If it kills insects, it MUST be doing harm to the larger species that consume the crops. We are destroying our planet and our future by not embracing the organic crops, paying a little more now to help stimulate production, and reaping the benefits down the road.

I only buy organic produce, and except for the occasional purchases at local farmers markets, I cannot find any from GA growers. It all comes from California or many south american countries. Yes, a great market exists and yet the backwards farmers in this state would rather pollute their land, harm their customers, and harm the surrounding environment than grow nutritious organic produce. Go figure.

Hillbilly D

January 24th, 2012
8:02 pm

I’m all for organic farming but let’s face it, not all of the masses can afford organically grown; it does cost more. On the other hand, I don’t believe in spraying everything that moves. Pesticides are a necessary evil and like many things, are best used in moderation and with great care.