Thursday, May 30, 2013

No Chemicals Please!

Sometimes, in my quest to do things what I see as the "right" way, I hit little bumps. Sometimes we may just need a reminder why it's not ok to go squirt a little roundup on that stubborn thistle that wants to grow in our carrot patch. It's easy to have good intentions, it's a bit harder to actually follow through.

So, in order to help remind myself, and my family, and anyone else who might read this, I've assembled a list of the most common farm chemicals and their negative effects. This may seem a bit like I'm focusing on the negatives here, but in my view, there really are no positives to using these chemicals. Whatever short term gain they are designed for is far outweighed by the long term loss.

Let's start with the top 5 most used herbicides and pesticides in the USA.

   -disrupts/reduces production of human sex hormones
   -kills tadpoles
   -causes genetic damage to human and animal cells
   -laboratory confirmed link between exposure to Glyphosphate and cancer, ADD, miscarriage
   -causes genetic damage and immune dysfunction in fish
   -causes genetic damage and abnormal development in frogs

   -contaminates lakes, rivers, streams and groundwater easily
   -skin, eye irritant
   -severely disrupts reproduction in amphibians and other animals even in very low doses <0.1ppb

   -acid and salt formulations cause blindness on contact with eyes
   -linked to Lou Gherig's disease
   -causes ataxia, miscarriage in rabbits
   -causes weight loss, nerological issues in dogs
   -causes retinal degeneration in rats

   -Respiratory, skin, eye irritatant
   -highly soluble in water, groundwater contaminant

   -eye irritant
   -possible carcinogen
   -likely disrupts endocrine function

Soil fumigants, possibly the most toxic chemicals used in industrial agriculture

Methyl Iodide
   -if inhaled, causes  ataxia, cough, diarrhoea, dizziness, drowsiness, nausea, sore throat and vomiting
   -Highly toxic to most animals
   -known carcinogen
   -potential ground water contaminant
   -causes miscarriage

Metam Sodium
   -highly toxic
   -known carcinogen

   -highly toxic poison gas

How about a few others, maybe the common household ones?

   -residential use outlawed in 2004
   -symptoms in people include abnormal blood pressure, abnormal heart rate, breathing difficulty, chest pain, anxiety, convulsions, dizziness, coma, tremor, twitching, abdominal cramps, vomiting

Carbaryl (Sevin)
   -can cause nerve damage with long term exposure to high doses
   -can leech into streams and lakes and kill beneficial aquatic insects

I could type all day long about this. Really. The list of chemicals one might encounter on a farm or even a garden is staggering. If you're wondering, these are the "common" ones listed here.

Yeah, four pages of names, and that's just the "common" ones. And that doesn't include fungicides, insecticides, etc. I don't want to eat that stuff, do you?

A couple weeks ago, I started a batch of dandelion wine. I just went out and picked flowers. I can do this because I know that there have been no chemicals on my property in years. Of course my neighbors down the road complain about all the flowers, they blame their dandelion problem on me. I tell them that it's not a problem to have a pretty, edible plant that requires zero care growing everywhere. They just shake their head and go back to spraying 2,4D all over the place, while their grandson plays in the yard.

Yesterday a neighbor told me that they can't grow anything without chemical fertilizer and herbicides. I tell them that's not true, they can actually grow more, but they're going to have to get their hands dirty. Change tactics, think differently. This is usually met with a blank stare and the feeling that the person I'm talking to thinks I'm wacky. There are better ways than spraying everything full of poison. There are pioneers in this area named Sepp Holzer, Joel Salatin, Paul Wheaton and many many many others, all of whom have succeeded at growing food and animals without synthetic chemicals. There have been stacks of books a mile high written on the subject. There are hundreds if not thousands of websites like that are loaded with information. Can't grow anything without chemicals? That's ridiculous. Maybe they believe me, maybe they don't, but it would be a shame if they or their family got sick because someone was too lazy to weed the tomatoes.

This is not a scientific publication, but here's some references anyway.

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