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The controversy surroundings the use of synthetic products as opposed to natural products

These critics accuse the organic industry of using deceptive marketing practices to get consumers to pay more money for organic food. Another line of attack has been that organic farmers use lots of pesticides, some of which are more toxic than those used by conventional farmers. The fact is that the organic farming and food movement is based on producing healthier foods without the use of toxic pesticides. To help address those challenges the National Organic Program NOP allows the use of certain natural-based and synthetic substances as pesticides.

These include alcohols, copper sulfate, and hydrogen peroxide. By contrast, there are some 900 synthetic pesticides approved for use in conventional farming.

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There are also many natural-based substances used as pesticides that are allowed in organic farming. These include neem oil, diatomaceous earth, and pepper. The majority of organic-approved pesticides are used in fruit and vegetable production, says Lewis.

Very few are used in organic grain production. All pesticides must first be reviewed by the U.

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Environmental Protection Agency to determine their toxicity. According to Lewis, just one synthetic pesticide approved for organic farming has been assigned an EPA tolerance—spinosad, an insecticide derived from a soil microorganism. One of the most widely spread myths about organic-approved pesticides is that organic farmers use Rotenone, a broad-spectrum insecticide known for its toxicity. While it has been used in the past, the current reality is that the EPA has banned Rotenone for use in the U.

S, though Lewis says it is still used in some countries that grow organic bananas. We are awaiting NOP action on that. Copper does have issues. Department of Agriculture and EPA that describe concerns with the use of copper.

25 organic-approved synthetic pesticides vs. 900 conventional

Baker emphasizes that conventional farmers also use copper. Marrone, whose company develops biopesticides for organic production, says there are organic and OMRI-approved alternatives to copper on the market. The OMRI Products List also includes non-synthetic alternatives such as biological fungicides and botanical extracts such as cinnamon oil and clove oil.

Critics say the organic industry is hypocritical by allowing the use of a foliar Bt spray to kill insects while opposing GMO crops containing genes from the Bt or bacillus thuringiensis bacterium.

Benbrook calls such criticism spin. Bt toxins in GM sweetcorn are inside the kernel, and remain there when the corn is cooked and eaten.

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People who eat that sweetcorn will get a high dose of Bt toxins. For many consumers pesticide residues on food are a big concern, and organic foods have been shown to contain far less pesticide residues than conventional foods. Benbrook, who has done extensive work on pesticide residues in organic foods, says:

  1. Residues from pesticides wrongfully used on a crop or inadvertently picked up from neighboring crops or soil residuals may go undetected.
  2. The EPA then calculates the theoretical maximum worst-case consumer exposure to the pesticide from all foods. Of 198 samples tested that year, residues were detected in seven or 3.
  3. Despite the concerns surrounding the issue of pesticide residues in our food, there is general agreement that eliminating fresh fruits and vegetables from the diet is not a viable alternative. RIS Pesticides and your food.