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Agrochemicals and Natural Farming [1]

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  • Dieter Brand
    Dear all,   Some seem to consider that it is OK to use toxic chemicals like herbicides in farming and that this may be consistent with Natural Farming.  I
    Message 1 of 3 , Aug 3, 2008
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      Dear all,

      Some seem to consider that it is OK to use toxic chemicals like herbicides in farming and that this may be consistent with Natural Farming.� I have no doubt that this is an erroneous view.

      To increase awareness of the dangers of introducing toxic chemicals into the food chain I will post a number of articles that were circulated via other MLs in the last few weeks.

      I will start with the case of contaminated manure in the UK that ruined numerous gardeners� vegetables.� This case illustrates well that toxic chemicals like herbicides don�t simply disappear.� It demonstrates how herbicide is passed on from the field it is applied to
      ��������� to the hey produced on that field,
      ��������� to the cows/horses that consume the hey,
      ��������� to the manure produced by those animals,
      ��������� to the soil that is fertilized with the manure,
      ��������� to the vegetables that are grown in the soil,
      with the effect that the authorities had to issue a health warning to gardeners not to consume their vegetables.

      Regards, Dieter


      http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/jun/29/food.agriculture

      Home-grown veg ruined by toxic fertiliser
      Gardeners across Britain are reaping a bitter harvest of rotten
      potatoes, withered salads and deformed tomatoes after an industrial
      herbicide tainted their soil. Caroline Davies reports on how the food
      chain became contaminated and talks to the angry allotment owners
      whose plots have been destroyed

      Caroline Davies
      The Observer,
      Sunday June 29, 2008

      Gardeners have been warned not to eat home-grown vegetables
      contaminated by a powerful new herbicide that is destroying gardens
      and allotments across the UK.

      The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has been inundated with calls
      from concerned gardeners who have seen potatoes, beans, peas, carrots
      and salad vegetables wither or become grossly deformed. The society
      admitted that it had no idea of the extent of the problem, but said
      it appeared 'significant'. The affected gardens and allotments have
      been contaminated by manure originating from farms where the hormone-
      based herbicide aminopyralid has been sprayed on fields.

      Dow AgroSciences, which manufactures aminopyralid, has posted advice
      to allotment holders and gardeners on its website. Colin Bowers,
      Dow's UK grassland marketing manager, told The Observer that links to
      their products had been proved in some of the cases, but it was not
      clear whether aminopyralid was responsible for all of them and tests
      were continuing. 'It is undoubtedly a problem,' he said, 'and I have
      got full sympathy for everyone who is involved with this.'
      He said the company was unable to advise gardeners that it was 'safe'
      to consume vegetables that had come into contact with the manure
      because of pesticide regulations. 'All we can say is that the trace
      levels of aminopyralid that are likely to be in these crops are of
      such low levels that they are unlikely to cause a problem to human
      health.'

      The Dow website says: 'As a general rule, we suggest damaged produce
      (however this is caused) should not be consumed.' Those who have
      already used contaminated manure are advised not to replant on the
      affected soil for at least a year.

      Aminopyralid, which is found in several Dow products, the most
      popular being Forefront, a herbicide, is not licensed to be used on
      food crops and carries a label warning farmers using it not to sell
      manure that might contain residue to gardeners. The Pesticides Safety
      Directorate, which has issued a regulatory update on the weedkiller,
      is taking samples from affected plants for testing.

      Problems with the herbicide emerged late last year, when some
      commercial potato growers reported damaged crops. In response, Dow
      launched a campaign within the agriculture industry to ensure that
      farmers were aware of how the products should be used. Nevertheless,
      the herbicide has now entered the food chain. Those affected are
      demanding an investigation and a ban on the product. They say they
      have been given no definitive answer as to whether other produce on
      their gardens and allotments is safe to eat.
      It appears that the contamination came from grass treated 12 months
      ago. Experts say the grass was probably made into silage, then fed to
      cattle during the winter months. The herbicide remained present in
      the silage, passed through the animal and into manure that was later
      sold. Horses fed on hay that had been treated could also be a channel.

      Bryn Pugh, legal consultant at the National Society of Allotments and
      Leisure Gardeners, said he was preparing claims for some members to
      seek financial compensation from the manure suppliers. But it was
      extremely difficult to trace the exact origins of each contaminated
      batch. 'It seems to be everywhere. From what I know, it is endemic
      throughout England and Wales. We will be pressing the government to
      ban this product,' he said.

      Aminopyralid is popular with farmers, who spray it on grassland
      because it controls weeds such as docks, thistles and nettles without
      affecting the grass around them. It binds itself to the woody tissue
      in the grass and only breaks down when exposed to bacteria in the
      soil.

      Shirley Murray, 53, a retired management consultant with an allotment
      near Bushy Park in Hampton, south-west London, said several of her
      allotment neighbours had used the same manure bought from a stables
      and all were affected. 'I am absolutely incensed at what has happened
      and find it scandalous that a weedkiller sprayed more than one year
      ago, that has passed through an animal's gut, was kicked around on a
      stable floor, stored in a muck heap in a field, then on an allotment
      site and was finally dug into or mulched on to beds last winter is
      still killing "sensitive" crops and will continue to do so for the
      next year,' she said. 'It's very toxic, it shouldn't get into the
      food chain. You try to be as organic as you can and we have poisoned
      ourfood. I've been everywhere, emailed all the right people, but
      nobody will speak on the record to guarantee what is safe to eat. We
      all think it is a scandal. Not to mention what it has cost in time
      and money.'

      Pesticide expert Professor Vyvyan Howard, a toxico-pathologist at
      Ulster University, said it was 'a very powerful herbicide' but in his
      opinion was 'unlikely to pose any human health risks'. However,
      advice about its use should be strengthened, he said. 'I think the
      thing that is going to drive this is the commercial damage that could
      be done to market gardeners,' he said.

      Guy Barter, the RHS head of horticultural advisory services, said
      they were receiving more than 20 calls a week. 'Our advice is not to
      eat the vegetables because no one seems to have any idea whether it
      is safe to eat them and we can't give any assurances,' he said. 'It
      is happening all over the country. A lot of cases we are seeing is
      where people have got manure from stables and the stable have bought
      their hay from a merchant, and the merchant might have bought hay
      from many farmers, possibly from different parts of the country. So
      they have no idea where the hay came from. So finding someone to
      blame is quite difficult.' Weedkiller in the soil should dissipate by
      next year, but in stacks of contaminated manure it might take two or
      more years to decay, he added.

      Dow is planning a major publicity campaign to reiterate warnings to
      farmers over usage, and to encourage allotment holders to check the
      provenance of manure that they put down in an effort to prevent the
      problem escalating. On compensation, it was less forthcoming. 'There
      is no easy answer to that,' said Bowers. 'The first port of call is
      always where the manure comes from. From that point on, I can't
      really comment.
      'The chain is horrendously complicated. In the cases we have managed
      to trace back, we might find that the farmer who supplied the manure
      didn't spray anything himself, but he might have bought in a couple
      of bales of silage from one of his neighbours, and that farm might
      have sprayed.'

      Robin and Christina Jones spread a large amount of manure over their
      flower garden and vegetable patch at their home in Banstead, Surrey.
      When the potatoes failed, Robin took a sample to the RHS, which
      identified aminopyralid. His neighbour, who bought from the same
      source, suffered the same problems. 'We have lost 80 per cent of our
      vegetable patch,' said Jones, 65, a retired sound engineer.
      Raspberries, French beans, onions, leeks, even a newly planted robina
      tree were all affected. 'We are distraught. But what worries me is
      that the courgettes look very healthy. Had we not had the problem
      with the potatoes, we might never have realised. Now we are advised
      not to eat them.

      'This is a very serious issue, and people must be made aware of the
      advice not to eat vegetables grown in contaminated manure.'
      Sue Ainsworth, 58, an education consultant, said around 20 allotments
      at her site in Hale, Cheshire, had been affected. 'We first noticed
      with the potatoes. As they came through, they were deformed, all
      curled over and rotten underneath. But the worry is that the
      courgettes also planted on the manure are fine - but are they safe to
      eat? This must have affected thousands of people. I am really worried
      about this product and really think it should be withdrawn.'
      She said the farmer who supplied the manure said he had used nothing
      unusual. 'But he may have bought in the straw and genuinely knew
      nothing about the herbicide used.'

      Susan Garrett, 57, an IT consultant, said 20 plots were affected at
      her allotment in Wakefield, West Yorkshire. 'And that is just the
      plants we can see are damaged. We are angry it has been allowed to
      happen - not with the chemical company, but because there doesn't
      seem to be any protection for us or anything to stop it happening
      again.'

      How to deal with the problem
      Do you have contaminated manure?

      Tell-tale symptoms of crop damage include distorted foliage, with
      cupping of leaves and fern-like growth. There are no remedies once
      damage has occurred. Susceptible crops include potatoes, tomatoes,
      beans, peas, carrots and lettuce.

      How should you deal with the affected area?

      Experts say rotavation is the best practice, or forking over several
      times as soon as possible. This incorporates the plant tissue into
      the soil, where it will decompose and the chemicals will eventually
      be degraded by soil microbes. Repeat the rotavation in late
      summer/early autumn.

      Should you replant this season?

      No. The plant residues need to be given time to break down. The
      advice is not to replant for a year.

      Why has the chemical lasted so long?

      Aminopyralid, like other herbicides, works by binding strongly to
      plant tissues. Once the plant's tissues decay, the chemical breaks
      down in the soil. If manure is stacked it takes far longer.

      This article appeared in the Observer on Sunday June 29 2008 on p8 of
      the News section. It was last updated at 00:07 on June 29 2008.





      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Gloria C. Baikauskas
      Dieter, I see your point, and then some. It is sad that we must wonder even about the water we use on our gardens knowing so much of it is contaminated with
      Message 2 of 3 , Aug 3, 2008
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        Dieter, I see your point, and then some. It is sad that we must
        wonder even about the water we use on our gardens knowing so much of
        it is contaminated with prescription drugs, and more, from public
        water utilities.

        I don't use them myself, but I do give advice on them when asked. I
        have a hard enough time convincing people not to use even organic
        insect sprays. I keep telling them that, if they start, they will
        never be able to stop because predator insects reproduce so much more
        slowly than the bad insects do causing an imbalance in the garden
        that takes for ever to right....and then only if they stop spraying.
        Sprays are equal opportunity killers, except......

        I read another article at Scientific American about a teenage boy
        with his science fair project. He was trying to help his grandmother
        with her aphid problems. He used extracts from some weeds....and I
        didn't copy it, so I can't remember which ones....and sprayed the
        plants with it. It killed only the aphids, not any of the worms, nor
        the lady beetles, etc. I found that promising.

        Myself, I use weeds as traps for insects having found that when I
        leave weeds, as I have said before, I don't have a problem with the
        insects bothering my veggies, etc. Of course I don't spray, so I
        have a balance I believe. It hasn't stopped the hordes of
        grasshoppers in this heat and dry weather, though. And, as we all
        know interplanting makes a huge difference in the garden, or on the
        farm.

        Gloria, Texas
      • Lauri Chambers
        I am told that aphids would sooner eat nasturtiums than cauliflower. I have been able to remove them physically with a hard stream of water (I only use
        Message 3 of 3 , Aug 4, 2008
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          I am told that aphids would sooner eat nasturtiums than cauliflower. I have been able to remove them physically with a hard stream of water (I only use rainwater).
          ----- Original Message -----
          From: Gloria C. Baikauskas
          To: fukuoka_farming@yahoogroups.com
          Sent: Sunday, August 03, 2008 9:06 AM
          Subject: [fukuoka_farming] Re: Agrochemicals and Natural Farming [1]


          Dieter, I see your point, and then some. It is sad that we must
          wonder even about the water we use on our gardens knowing so much of
          it is contaminated with prescription drugs, and more, from public
          water utilities.

          I don't use them myself, but I do give advice on them when asked. I
          have a hard enough time convincing people not to use even organic
          insect sprays. I keep telling them that, if they start, they will
          never be able to stop because predator insects reproduce so much more
          slowly than the bad insects do causing an imbalance in the garden
          that takes for ever to right....and then only if they stop spraying.
          Sprays are equal opportunity killers, except......

          I read another article at Scientific American about a teenage boy
          with his science fair project. He was trying to help his grandmother
          with her aphid problems. He used extracts from some weeds....and I
          didn't copy it, so I can't remember which ones....and sprayed the
          plants with it. It killed only the aphids, not any of the worms, nor
          the lady beetles, etc. I found that promising.

          Myself, I use weeds as traps for insects having found that when I
          leave weeds, as I have said before, I don't have a problem with the
          insects bothering my veggies, etc. Of course I don't spray, so I
          have a balance I believe. It hasn't stopped the hordes of
          grasshoppers in this heat and dry weather, though. And, as we all
          know interplanting makes a huge difference in the garden, or on the
          farm.

          Gloria, Texas




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