Would seem like common sense correct? Eat organic, which by definition is grown without chemical pesticides, and you will ingest much less chemicals. Now science has confirmed what seems like a no-brainer to us commoners, yes it is true, eat organic and avoid exposure to chemical pesticides. So, if you were thinking that organic is BS, well think again!
Food production in the United States is currently dominated by two methods: organic farming and traditional farming that incorporates the benefits of engineered seeds. If early successes are any indication of the future, then it may soon be time to make room for a third: vertical farming. There are numerous benefits to vertical farms, which are springing up from Singapore to Pennsylvania, ranging from the elimination of pests to significant reductions in the amount of water used to irrigate crops. However, the disruptive shift in the way the world produces food will also reshape the battle between organic champions such as Whole Foods Market (NASDAQ: WFM ) and engineered seed producers such as Monsanto Company (NYSE: MON ) .
Consider that the conditions of enclosed vertical farms could be precisely controlled. Farmers wouldn’t need seeds that resisted droughts or pests. Pesticides use would be greatly reduced, if not eliminated, while water and energy use would also plummet. Does that set the stage for Whole Foods Market to throw its weight behind the new production systems? Will this mark the beginning of the end of GMOs and pesticides from Monsanto?
In this article from Activist Post, Anthony Gucciardi informs us of some great successes in the GMO battle, with countries and counties standing up against the GMO juggernaut. A case in point here in the USA, Colorado’s Boulder County was the latest health freedom hotspot to stand up against Monsanto and genetically modified produce, with Boulder County advisory committees announcing plans to phase out GMO crops on open space in pursuit of sustainable and ethical farming practices.
The county joins a long list of other political bodies that have banned, condemned, and even uprooted GMO crops across the globe.
Both the Food and Agriculture Policy Council and the Parks and Open Space Advisory Committee of Boulder Country voted 5-4 to phase out GMOs in an economically viable way. The transition proves that it is possible to be environmentally conscious, preserve the health of citizens, and still maintain economic stability.
Genetically modified corn has been growing on around 16,000 acres of cropland owned by the county for around a decade. In 2009, public concern over the consequences of GMO crops sparked public debate within the county. Citizens demanded that GMO crops be banned after 6 local farmers asked permission to plant sugar beets that were engineered to resist the herbicide Roundup.
Nations Starting to Ban and Uproot GMO Crops
Hungary has gained international recognition for their bold stand against biotech giant Monsanto,destroying all Monsanto corn fields littered with GMO crops. The nation destroyed 1000 acres of maize found to have been grown with genetically modified seeds, which are banned in the country. Many of the farmers were actually shocked to find they were using GMO seeds, which are resulting in extreme environmental consequence.
In this interesting article below by Mike Barrett featured on Infowars, we see some things you may not have thought of that will promote weight gain and even obesity. We know that diet and exercise play a major role but many who take care of these factors are still challenged when it comes to keeping their weight in line. Here is the article which offers some good food for thought. Of course the role of detoxing the body with greens and cleanses and giving it optimal nutrition must never come in to question. These things are and will always be essential components of a healthy life.
There is no doubt that the Western diet holds most of the weight regarding the escalating obesity epidemic we are facing today.
While these obesity contributors are widely known, there are actually some other very surprising factors to consider when analyzing the reason for the nation’s continued growth.
Antibiotics Could be to Blame for Excess Weight
As surprising as it may seem, antibiotics have actually be pinpointed as being a promoter for obesity as well as diabetes and metabolic syndrome. While antibiotics succeed in destroying bad bacteria, which is their intended use, they also destroy good bacteria in the gut known as friendly flora.
This lack of bacterial discrimination leads to a shortage in friendly gut bacteria which are responsible for regulating overall health, including weight management.
Pollution has been Connected with Weight Gain
Not many people would point their finger at pollution when searching for a cause for obesity. And while poor air quality certainly isn’t a primary reason for extra weight, it does indeed have a link to extra weight. Research has shown that ingesting toxic chemicals found in both food and the air leads to increased fat storage in babies. A defense mechanism is triggered in unborn babies when mother’s take in these toxic chemicals which is supposed to protect the baby. It just so happens that this defense mechanism is the formation of fat.
Shampoo, Plastic, and Pesticides
There is growing concern regarding various chemicals used in products today and their impact on our health. Chemicals like bisphenol-A, phthalates, PCB’s, POP’s, and pesticides, which are all endocrine disruptors, have been tied to many health ailments such as infertility, asthma, diabetes, and obesity. Paula Baillie-Hamilton, an expert on metabolism and environmental toxins at Stirling University in Scotland, was one of the first to point out the connection between environmental toxins and obesity. She noted that:
Overlooked in the obesity debate is that the earth’s environment has changed significantly during the last few decades because of the exponential production and usage of synthetic organic and inorganic chemicals
Environmental toxins are lesser known evils when it comes to health complications, but it may be time people started seriously considering these toxins when evaluating their health.
The costs of ‘Industrial Agriculture’ is huge both in terms of health, human lives and the future of our species. If left unchecked I am convinced that these rascals, in the pursuit of short term profits, ruin our ecosystem. Thus making it impossible for us to grow food as nature intended.
The evidence of the destruction is found all over the world, not just here in the U.S.
The Killing Fields of Multi-National Corporations
* The killing fields of MNCs
By Vandana Shiva
The Asian Age, July 14, 2010
The Bhopal gas tragedy was the worst industrial disaster in human history. Twenty-five thousand people died, 500,000 were injured, and the injustice done to the victims of Bhopal over the past 25 years will go down as the worst case of jurisprudence ever.
The gas leak in Bhopal in December 1984 was from the Union Carbide pesticide plant which manufactured “carabaryl” (trade name “sevin”) – a pesticide used mostly in cotton plants. It was, in fact, because of the Bhopal gas tragedy and the tragedy of extremist violence in Punjab that I woke up to the fact that agriculture had become a war zone. Pesticides are war chemicals that kill – every year 220,000 people are killed by pesticides worldwide.
After research I realised that we do not need toxic pesticides that kill humans and other species which maintain the web of life. Pesticides do not control pests, they create pests by killing beneficial species. We have safer, non-violent alternatives such as neem. That is why at the time of the Bhopal disaster I started the campaign “No more Bhopals, plant a neem”. The neem campaign led to challenging the biopiracy of neem in 1994 when I found that a US multinational, W.R. Grace, had patented neem for use as pesticide and fungicide and was setting up a neem oil extraction plant in Tumkur, Karnataka. We fought the biopiracy case for 11 years and were eventually successful in striking down the biopiracy patent.
Meanwhile, the old pesticide industry was mutating into the biotechnology and genetic engineering industry. While genetic engineering was promoted as an alternative to pesticides, Bt cotton was introduced to end pesticide use. But Bt cotton has failed to control the bollworm and has instead created major new pests, leading to an increase in pesticide use.
The high costs of genetically-modified (GM) seeds and pesticides are pushing farmers into debt, and indebted farmers are committing suicide. If one adds the 200,000 farmer suicides in India to the 25,000 killed in Bhopal, we are witnessing a massive corporate genocide – the killing of people for super profits. To maintain these super profits, lies are told about how, without pesticides and genetically-modified organisms (GMOs), there will be no food. In fact, the conclusions of International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development, undertaken by the United Nations, shows that ecologically organic agriculture produces more food and better food at lower cost than either chemical agriculture or GMOs.
The agrochemical industry and its new avatar, the biotechnology industry, do not merely distort and manipulate knowledge, science and public policy. They also manipulate the law and the justice system. The reason justice has been denied to the victims of Bhopal is because corporations want to escape liability. Freedom from liability is, in fact, the real meaning of “free trade”. The tragedy of Bhopal is dual. Interestingly, the Bhopal disaster happened precisely when corporations were seeking deregulation and freedom from liability through the instruments of “free trade”, “trade liberalisation” and “globalisation”, both through bilateral pressure and through the Uruguay Round of General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) which led to the creation of the World Trade Organisation.
I urge everyone to vote with your dollars…don’t buy conventionally grown industrial foods, junk foods, packaged foods, only locally grown organics.
Even CNN is getting in on this action, Toxic America! Far too long have we been polluted by industry with government complicity. From the air we breathe to the water we drink this country has become toxic. Now we also have BP and the huge environment changing oil spill. I can’t wait to see what happens there.
Finally, decades later the EPA is investigating toxic chemicals in a few cities. Can’t wait to see what happens here. As you can tell I am somewhat cynical when it comes to government chastising big industry.
Toxic towns: People of Mossville ‘are like an experiment’
By David S. Martin, CNN Medical Senior Producer
February 26, 2010 8:49 a.m. EST
Westlake, Louisiana (CNN) — Gather current and former Mossville, Louisiana, residents in a room and you’re likely to hear a litany of health problems and a list of friends and relatives who died young.
“I got cancer. My dad had cancer. In fact, he died of cancer. It’s a lot of people in this area who died of cancer,” says Herman Singleton Jr., 51, who also lost two uncles and an aunt to cancer.
Singleton and many others in this predominantly African-American community in southwest Louisiana suspect the 14 chemical plants nearby have played a role in the cancer and other diseases they say have ravaged the area.
For decades, Mossville residents have complained about their health problems to industry, and to state and federal agencies. Now with a new Environmental Protection Agency administrator outspoken about her commitment to environmental justice, expectations are growing.
Herman Singleton Jr. has cancer, so does his father, and he lost two uncles and an aunt to cancer.
Herman Singleton Jr. has cancer, so does his father, and he lost two uncles and an aunt to cancer.
Debra Ramirez said her sister died of sarcoidosis, an inflammatory disease.
Dorothy Felix belongs to a local environmental group asking the government to intervene for health reasons.
“I’m pretty hopeful now,” say Debra Ramirez, 55, who grew up in Mossville and who lost a sister at 45 of sarcoidosis, an inflammatory disease. “I do see her trying to do the right thing.”
Lisa Jackson, a native of New Orleans, Louisiana, and the first African-American administrator of the EPA, this year listed environmental justice as one of her seven priorities.
And the EPA held a meeting in Mossville last month formally kicking off a study designed to see if the community qualifies as a Superfund site, reserved for the most polluted places in the United States. Superfund site designation would bring federal funding for cleaning up Mossville.
Mossville Environmental Action Now (MEAN), the local environmental group, has asked government and industry to relocate residents who want to leave, offer a free health clinic and lower emissions from the plants. Superfund relocates residents only as a last resort.
“There are people that are getting sick; there are people who are dying because of what is happening in our community. These chemicals are killing us. They will destroy Mossville if nothing happens,” says Dorothy Felix of MEAN.
Thousands of pounds of carcinogens such as benzene and vinyl chloride are released from the facilities near Mossville each year, according to the EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory.
The industrial boom began in and around Mossville during World War II. Vinyl chloride makers, refineries, a coal-fired energy plant and chemical plants now operate in what was once rural country, rich in agriculture, fishing and hunting.
Robert Bullard, author of “Dumping in Dixie,” says it’s no surprise industry chose Mossvillle, an unincorporated community founded by African Americans in the 1790s.
“What happens is zoning becomes very political, and what happens is people with power, with lawyers and elected officials who can fight for them and make decisions for them, oftentimes will get things placed away from them and placed in locations where other people live” Bullard says.
The people of Mossville are like an experiment. They know that they have high levels of dioxin in their blood…
–Wilma Subra, chemist
Without the power, Bullard says, African-Americans have borne the brunt of living near industry, landfills and hazardous facilities.
“African Americans are more than 79 percent more likely to live in communities where there are dangerous facilities that pose health threats,” says Bullard, director of the Environmental Justice Resource Center at Clark Atlanta University.
Bullard says Jackson has breathed new life into environmental justice since she took office last year. During the previous eight years, he says, “environmental justice was non-existent or invisible.”
Over time, Mossville residents became worried emissions from the plants were affecting their health.
Those fears heightened in 1998 when the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry tested the blood of 28 Mossville residents and found dioxin levels three times the national average.
Dioxins are carcinogens. Volcanoes and forest fires create dioxins naturally. They are also released during vinyl chloride production, at waste incinerators and by wood processing facilities.
Residents were retested for dioxins in 2001, with similar results, but in 2006 the agency concluded that residents did not face a health risk, an assessment echoed by local industry.
“The emissions from the plants are within the standards set by the various agencies, and they are of a level that they have no ill effects on the local community,” says Larry DeRoussel, executive director of the Lake Area Industry Alliance.
DeRoussel speaks for local industry. CNN invited all 14 companies to speak on camera. None of them accepted; some said interviewing DeRoussel would suffice.
DeRoussel points to statistics showing the cancer rate in Calcasieu Parish, the local county, is not significantly higher than the state average.
But Wilma Subra, a chemist from New Iberia, Louisiana, who has worked with Mossville residents, says the statistics are misleading because the parish covers such a large area, more than 1,000 square miles, and more than 180,000 residents. Mossville is a tiny fraction of that, with about 375 homes adjacent to the chemical plants.
“The people of Mossville are like an experiment. They know that they have high levels of dioxin in their blood, and they’re allowed to continue to live there and be exposed,” says Subra, recipient of the MacArthur genius grant in 1999 for her environmental work with communities.
After the EPA announced its Superfund investigation, Felix says she’s hopeful for the first time in years Mossville will be saved.
“This is the first time I’ve had a little hope in EPA,” Felix says.
From chemical discharges to chemtrails to fluoridated water supply…we are being poisoned.
I am certainly happy to see this list hit MSM! Not only are the 12 ‘dirty’ foods listed but also 15 foods that are the cleanest. We must pay attention to information that can affect our health and act on that information. These lists are and have been widely available on different sites.
‘Dirty dozen’ produce carries more pesticide residue, group says
By Danielle Dellorto, Senior Medical Producer
June 1, 2010 1:31 a.m. EDT
* Environmental group says “Dirty Dozen” of produce contains 47 to 67 pesticides per serving
* Government says consuming pesticides in low amounts is not harmful
* Studies have found association between pesticides and health problems
(CNN) — If you’re eating non-organic celery today, you may be ingesting 67 pesticides with it, according to a new report from the Environmental Working Group.
The group, a nonprofit focused on public health, scoured nearly 100,000 produce pesticide reports from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to determine what fruits and vegetables we eat have the highest, and lowest, amounts of chemical residue.
Most alarming are the fruits and vegetables dubbed the “Dirty Dozen,” which contain 47 to 67 pesticides per serving. These foods are believed to be most susceptible because they have soft skin that tends to absorb more pesticides.
“It’s critical people know what they are consuming,” the Environmental Working Group’s Amy Rosenthal said. “The list is based on pesticide tests conducted after the produce was washed with USDA high-power pressure water system. The numbers reflect the closest thing to what consumers are buying at the store.”
Special report: Toxic America
The group suggests limiting consumption of pesticides by purchasing organic for the 12 fruits and vegetables.
“You can reduce your exposure to pesticides by up to 80 percent by buying the organic version of the Dirty Dozen,” Rosenthal said.
The Dirty Dozen
Sweet bell peppers
Spinach, kale and collard greens
Not all non-organic fruits and vegetables have a high pesticide level. Some produce has a strong outer layer that provides a defense against pesticide contamination. The group found a number of non-organic fruits and vegetables dubbed the “Clean 15” that contained little to no pesticides.
The Clean 15
What is a pesticide?
A pesticide is a mixture of chemical substances used on farms to destroy or prevent pests, diseases and weeds from affecting crops. According to the USDA, 45 percent of the world’s crops are lost to damage or spoilage, so many farmers count on pesticides.
The Environmental Protection Agency, the FDA and the USDA work together to monitor and set limits as to how much pesticide can be used on farms and how much is safe to remain on the produce once it hits grocery store shelves.
“In setting the tolerance amount, the EPA must make a safety finding that the pesticide can be used with ‘reasonable certainty of no harm.’ The EPA ensures that the tolerance selected will be safe,” according the EPA’s website.
Although the President’s Cancer Panel recently recommended that consumers eat produce without pesticides to reduce their risk of getting cancer and other diseases, the low levels of pesticides found on even the Dirty Dozen are government-approved amounts.
Can small amounts of pesticides hurt you?
The government says that consuming pesticides in low amounts doesn’t harm you, but some studies show an association between pesticides and health problems such as cancer, attention-deficit (hyperactivity) disorder and nervous system disorders and say exposure could weaken immune systems.
The Environmental Working Group acknowledges that data from long-term studies aren’t available but warns consumers of the potential dangers.
“Pesticides are designed to kill things. Why wait for 20 years to discover they are bad for us?” Rosenthal said.
Some doctors warn that children’s growing brains are the most vulnerable to pesticides in food.
“A kid’s brain goes through extraordinary development, and if pesticides get into the brain, it can cause damage,” said Dr. Philip Landrigan, chairman of the department of preventive medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York.
Can pesticides be washed away?
Not necessarily. The pesticide tests mentioned above were conducted after the food had been power-washed by the USDA. Also, although some pesticides are found on the surface of foods, other pesticides may be taken up through the roots and into the plant and cannot be removed.
“We’ve found that washing doesn’t do much,” Rosenthal said. “Peeling can help, although you have to take into account that the pesticides are in the water, so they can be inside the fruit because of the soil.”
All fresh produce, whether it’s grown with or without pesticides, should be washed with water to remove dirt and potentially harmful bacteria. And health experts agree that when it comes to the Dirty Dozen list, choose organic if it’s available.
“To the extent you can afford to do so, [parents] should simply buy organic, because there have been some very good studies that shows people who eat mostly organic food reduce 95 percent of pesticides [in their body] in two weeks,” Landrigan said.
Act now to avoid those contaminated foods and stock up on the good ones!
Children that consume conventionally grown fruits and vegetables are more likely to have ADD/ADHD than their peers that consume organics.
Not only that but the pesticides and such are much higher in children than adults as kids eat more of these items.
There is a list on ewg.com that highlights the fruits and vegetables with the highest concentrations of chemicals. Pay attention to this list as your kids health can depend on it!
Buy organic. New study finds pesticides linked to ADHD in children.
May 18, 12:40 AMDC Diet and Exercise ExaminerHeidi Price
A recent study published in the journal Pediatrics finds detectable concentrated levels of pesticides, one in particular malathion, in fresh strawberries, celery, and even frozen blueberries. Pesticides are commonly used to control the insects that threaten the food supply. However, increasing levels of pesticides have been detected on fruit and vegetable samples as well as in the urine of study participants.
Detectable concentrations of malathion were found in 19 percent of celery samples, 25 percent of fresh strawberry samples, and 28 percent of frozen blueberry samples.
The study found concentrated levels of pesticide metabolites in the urine of over 1,000 children selected from the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey. Most pesticide residues leave the body after three to six days. Since pesticide concentration levels were identified in such a high number of children, the results are indicative of repeated continual exposure through their diet.
Children may be more susceptible to pesticide health risks because they typically consume more pesticide residue than adults because of their relative body weight.
The study also found that those children with a 10-fold increase in the metabolites were over 50 percent more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD. ADHD currently affects over 4.5 million children in the United States today.
Apples are included in the ‘dirty dozen”.
Fruits and vegetables have always been thought of as health foods. Parents can and should continue to offer them to their families with one significant modification. Buy organic versions of those favorite fruits and vegetables. The popular “dirty dozen” list of recommended foods to purchase organic includes fruits, vegetables, and other foods containing the highest pesticide levels. According to the Environmental Working Group, consumers can reduce their pesticide exposure by almost 80 percent by avoiding these most contaminated foods.
One option is to buy produce through local farmer’s markets. Various Metropolitan DC farmers markets offer certified organic produce and use integrated pest management (IPA) or chemical-free pest solutions instead of typical chemical pesticides.
* Mount Pleasant Farmer’s Market – a producer-only market that supplies local fruit, vegetables, meats, dairy, and other prepared foods to the Mount Pleasant neighborhood of DC. All producers are located within 125 miles of Washington DC and most are certified organic or use chemical-free methods of pest management.
* MOM’s Organic Market – with six locations in the DC Metro area, MOM’s sells only 100 percent USDA certified organic produce and stocks a higher percentage of organic products than any other major grocery chain.
* Norman’s Farm Market – has been providing the DC metro area with fresh produce for over 20 years. They boast an extensive network of small family farms that practice sustainable methods of agriculture including organic, chemical free, and naturally grown products.
Buy local and buy organic. Get to know your food suppliers you will be better for it!
Pesticide Implicated in Widespread Bee Deaths
While environmental activists including the SafeLawns Foundation claimed a temporary victory Wednesday, Sept. 16 in the emerging battle concerning the widespread use of imidacloprid in Worcester, Mass., beekeepers and many other observers across North America are deeply concerned about the precedents being set in the rural community.
As the threat of exotic invasive pests spreads— just as more alarming information becomes available about the pesticides currently in use — it is imperative correct decisions be made in situations for which no easy answers exist.
On Friday, Sept. 11, SafeLawns, the Toxics Action Center of Boston and later the Pesticide Action Network North America sent out an urgent call to block a proposal to spread more than 1 million gallons of imidacloprid solution into 15 square miles of soil in Greater Worcester, in the center of Massachusetts. Worcester has made national headlines due to its overwhelming infestation of an exotic invasive insect known as the Asian longhorn beetle. Approximately 25,000 trees have been cut down already and imidacloprid, synthetic nicotine, is the only known treatment for the pest.
Imidacloprid, marketed as Merit by the original manufacturer Bayer, is well documented for its toxicity to bees, as well as birds, worms and aquatic life. Many beekeepers, environmentalists and scientists — though not all — feel that imidacloprid is the root cause of colony collapse disorder (CCD) of bees. CCD is a mysterious ailment that began wiping out millions of beehives in the United States in 2006, just a year after imidacloprid replaced diazinon as the pesticide of choice for many insect infestations. Diazinon was banned by the EPA in 2004 due to its toxicity to birds and humans.
France has long-since banned most applications of imidacloprid ever since the synthetic nicotine compound was blamed for wiping out its bee-keeping industry during the 1990s. The Bayer Corporation reportedly paid French beekeepers $70 million to rebuild the beekeeping industry, but as recently as Sept. 15 a representative of Bayer claimed to the Boston Globe that imidacloprid has “no connection whatsoever” to colony collapse disorder. Widespread evidence and common sense suggest otherwise.
“Findings reveal a disparity between independent research and the research that was undertaken by Bayer,” said a September 2009 report by Buglife, a British conservation group that released the most comprehensive study ever published about imidacloprid.
The proposal considered Sept. 16 by the Massachusetts Pesticide Board subcommittee would have allowed the U.S. Department of Agriculture to use three times the legal amount of imidacloprid in soil treatments around Worcester starting in the spring of 2010. When beekeepers and others began contacting SafeLawns and asking for help, we rallied allies and voiced our collective opposition. At the end of the meeting, the subcommittee wisely asked to table the issue for two months to gather more information.
“I don’t believe that the environmental assessment done by (the EPA) is sufficient to justify any treatments because, as part of the assessment, they must determine if the bees will encounter enough imidacloprid to cause harm,” said Dean Stiglitz, a beekeeper from the Worcester area. “The problem is, no one has data showing how much imidacloprid will end up in the pollen, nectar, and/or plant resins (that bees collect) of the early blooming maple trees. Certainly not with the dosages (proposed).”
MODE OF ACTION
The Toxics Action Center, which organizes community support for pesticide reduction, drafted a letter, which was read aloud to the Pesticide Board. Here are just a few excerpts:
“Imidacloprid can persist in soil for 26.5 to 229 days in soil,” wrote TAC. “For this reason, direct application to soil as the U.S. Department of Agriculture is proposing should be avoided at all costs. It can easily migrate from soil into groundwater resources and has been detected in both ground and surface water in New York. California put imidacloprid on its groundwater protection list due to its potential to contaminate groundwater.
“Imidacloprid has been linked in animal studies to reproductive, mutagenic and neurotoxic effects. There is reason for concern about human exposures if it migrates into drinking water.”
The chemical, unfortunately, is the only known solution in the fight against the Asian longhorn beetle, which is believed to have first arrived in New York City in packing materials from China in the 1980s. Perhaps the most troubling insect ever to invade the U.S., it infests most deciduous hardwood trees with the exception of oak. By boring pea-sized holes into trees, the insect causes a slow but certain death.
Virtually everyone agrees that doing nothing is not an option, yet this is clearly a situation with no perfect solutions. Citizens of Worcester, justifiably, do not want to lose any more of their trees to the insect. The maple sugar industry of Northern New England is in a virtual panic that the insect will spread northward. Yet beekeepers are petrified about the pesticide impact on their hives — especially given that the pollen of maple trees is an essential spring source of food for the bees. Imidacloprid does wind up in the pollen of the flowers all most treated trees.
Given that imidacloprid is the only control, two primary application methods exist. One involves manually injecting trees with small amounts of imidacloprid. The other involves drilling vastly larger amounts of the pesticide six inches deep into the soil. While everyone agrees that injection is the preferred method, soil “drenching” has been proposed in Worcester due to cost considerations.
Christine Markham, director of the Asian Longhorned Beetle National Program for the USDA told the Boston Globe that soil injection is more “cost effective” than tree injection.
“We will be able to treat more trees,’’ said Markham.
Treating the trees is different than saving the trees, however. Scientific data collected at numerous infestation sites across the country shows that soil injection offers low efficacy in relation to tree injection. Injecting a tree has shown to be virtually 100 percent effective for up to two years; soil injections often need to be repeated year after year — which eventually mitigates any cost differential.
“Soil treatment, while the cheapest option, is like using a fire hose to treat for this beetle when really a small syringe would work just fine,” said Megan Jenny of the Toxics Action Center. “We should be phasing out toxic pesticides and replacing them with safer alternatives. In this case, the tree injection method may be significantly safer than soil applications. Tree injection minimizes the amount of pesticide needed, prevents the pesticide from migrating into groundwater and drinking water, and reduces pesticide exposures to the environment.”
Whether you live in Worcester and are affected by this immediate crisis, or you reside anywhere else in the nation, the imidacloprid issue affects you directly. By most estimates, honeybees are responsible for pollinating a third of our nation’s food supply. Any use of a pesticide that can harm the bees should be carefully considered — yet most homeowners who apply imidacloprid for grub control on their lawns or insect control on their fruit trees never even think about the impact on bees. Most people have never heard the word imidacloprid, which is buried in the fine print of the pesticide label.
With two months until the Pesticide Board in Massachusetts takes up the issue again, both sides will be preparing arguments. On the one hand, Bayer and the other manufacturers will continue to maintain their imidacloprid is safe and the USDA, faced with finding a solution to the Asian longhorn beetle, will push for widespread use of the pesticide. On the other hand, SafeLawns, Toxics Action Center, the Pesticide Action Network and others will point out the myriad toxicity issues associated with imidacloprid.
We urge all of you to: 1) Form an educated opinion and 2: Make your voice heard. If you live in Massachusetts, write to Gov. Deval Patrick and Senator John Kerry and all of your other local representatives. If these folks hear multiple voices on the same issue, they will respond. If you live anywhere else in the nation, keep your eyes out for issues involving honeybees, or imidacloprid, or pesticides in general.
At your own home, read those pesticide labels. Outside your home, eliminate or minimize pesticide use and never attempt to treat for the Asian longhorn beetle on your own; it is a job for a licensed professional. And within your larger community, don’t be afraid to speak out. Nothing less than our forests and our food supply depend on it.