Feed the world? Organic will; GMO won’t: 6 of 10


Get real! The profit motive MUST NOT be a rationale for poisoning ourselves!  So say thousands all over the country who are calling for a ban on Endosulfan. On February 19, U.S. groups sent a petition signed by 19,000 to the EPA calling for a ban to this nasty pesticide that is already banned by many countries. See the article on the Pesticide Action Network online magazine.

Also, find out how free trade agreements increase pesticide use on the PC(USA) Just Trade site. Plus there is a downloadable poster with 20 ways to protect yourself and your family from pesticides.

YES Organic #6. Pesticides

It is a shocking testimony to the power of the agrochemical industry that in the 45 years since Rachel Carson published her pesticide warning Silent Spring, the number of commercially available synthetic pesticides has risen from 22 to more than 450.

According to the World Health Organization there are an estimated 20,000 accidental deaths worldwide each year from pesticide exposure and poisoning.
More than 31 million kilograms of pesticide were applied to UK crops alone in 2005, 0.5 kilograms for every person in the country.

A spiraling dependence on pesticides throughout recent decades has resulted in a catalogue of repercussions, including pest resistance, disease susceptibility, loss of natural biological controls and reduced nutrient-cycling.

Organic farmers, on the other hand, believe that a healthy plant grown in a healthy soil will ultimately be more resistant to pest damage. Organic systems encourage a variety of natural methods to enhance soil and plant health, in turn reducing incidences of pests, weeds and disease.

First and foremost, because organic plants grow comparatively slower than conventional varieties they have thicker cell walls, which provide a tougher natural barrier to pests. Rotations or ‘break-crops’, which are central to organic production, also provide a physical obstacle to pest and disease lifecycles by removing crops from a given plot for extended periods. Organic systems also rely heavily on a rich agro-ecosystem in which many agricultural pests can be controlled by their natural predators.

Inevitably, however, there are times when pestilence attacks are especially prolonged or virulent, and here permitted pesticides may be used. The use of organic pesticides is heavily regulated and the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) requires specific criteria to be met before pesticide applications can be justified.

There are in fact only four active ingredients permitted for use on organic crops: copper fungicides, restricted largely to potatoes and occasionally orchards; sulphur, used to control additional elements of fungal diseases; Retenone, a naturally occurring plant extract, and soft soap, derived from potassium soap and used to control aphids. Herbicides are entirely prohibited.


NO GMO #6. Breeding resistance

Nature is smart, and there are already reports of species resistant to GM crops emerging. This is seen in the emergence of new ‘superweeds’ on farms in North America – plants that have evolved the ability to withstand the industry’s chemicals.

A report by then UK conservation body English Nature (now Natural England), in 2002, revealed that oilseed rape plants that had developed resistance to three or more herbicides were ‘not uncommon’ in Canada. The superweeds had been created through random crosses between neighbouring GM crops. In order to tackle these superweeds, Canadian farmers were forced to resort to even stronger, more toxic herbicides. Similarly, pests (notably the diamondback moth) have been quick to develop resistance to BT toxin, and in 2007 swarms of mealy bugs began attacking supposedly pest-resistant Indian cotton.

10 reasons why organic can feed the world
By Ed Hamer and Mark Anslow,The Ecologist, March 2008

10 reasons GM won’t feed the world
Mark Anslow,The Ecologist, March 2008