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Thread: What problems does organic agriculture solve?

  1. #301  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope skeptic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post
    It is not sufficient to repeat the irrelevant observation that low enough doses are probably benign. It's a truism, without relevance in the discussion.
    It is extremely relevant. Indeed, it is key to the discussion.

    The subject of this discussion is organic agriculture. Not domestic or household bug spray.

    Your reference to chlorpyrifos in household bug spray is fine, and it points out a valuable point. But the results for chlorpyrifos toxicity when ingested due to the use of chlorpyrifos household bug spray does not mean anything in relation to chlorpyrifos being used as an insecticide spray on crops.

    Simply, the household bug spray caused some people to take in sufficient chlorpyrifos to have an adverse effect. Sure. But what does that mean in relation to crops? In fact, as best I can see, it means exactly zero. It will continue to mean exactly zero unless and until you can supply data on how much chlorpyrifos residue remains on food that is marketed. If the level is sufficiently low, it is benign. And that is far and away the greatest probability.

    It is important in these discussions to try to compare "horses for courses". Chlorpyrifos on crops versus chlorpyrifos in household bug spray. Two quite different situations.

    Similarly methyl bromide (which I agree is nasty) is not used in either organic or conventional agriculture. It is used post harvest to treat foods for export, by killing possibly harmful insects that might otherwise wreak ecological devastation in the country the food is destined to be exported to. Either or both organic and conventional foods might be treated with methyl bromide. This makes its use irrelevant to the current discussion.

    Personally, I do not like seeing methyl bromide used, because it is a very bad greenhouse gas. There is a much more benign alternative, which is to expose the food to low level gamma irradiation, which kills insects without harming the food, or creating nasty pollution.
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  2. #302  
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    Aren't some growers still trying to get a free pass for using methyl bromide as a soil fumigant? The final phase out was pretty recent I thought.
    "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." Winston Churchill
    "nature is like a game of Jenga; you never know which brick you pull out will cause the whole stack to collapse" Lucy Cooke
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    Your reference to chlorpyrifos in household bug spray is fine, and it points out a valuable point. But the results for chlorpyrifos toxicity when ingested due to the use of chlorpyrifos household bug spray does not mean anything in relation to chlorpyrifos being used as an insecticide spray on crops.
    It means that nobody knew what the harmful dose level of the stuff was, or what the common exposure routes and levels were, or what possible combinations and circumstances might be relevant, or where look for to check for damages, while the industrial ag people were spraying it all over people's food for decades.

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    Simply, the household bug spray caused some people to take in sufficient chlorpyrifos to have an adverse effect. Sure. But what does that mean in relation to crops? In fact, as best I can see, it means exactly zero
    Your incapabilities are familiar to me.

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    It will continue to mean exactly zero unless and until you can supply data on how much chlorpyrifos residue remains on food that is marketed. If the level is sufficiently low, it is benign.
    You don't know two crucial facts that you have to know to justify that: 1) you don't know what the "sufficiently low" level of chlorpyrifos exposure by the various routes or combinations of them is, 2) and you don't know the levels, routes, and proportions of exposure that led to the demonstrated brain damage in the children studied.

    You don't know that stuff, because nobody knows that stuff. It isn't known, as was proven by this study showing that the assumptions and standards in the matter were wrong. There are risks associated with that kind of ignorance. And that is the fact supporting my argument. My argument has nothing to do with whatever the actual dangers of chlorpyrifos residue on industrial food turn out to be, many years from now.

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    Similarly methyl bromide (which I agree is nasty) is not used in either organic or conventional agriculture. It is used post harvest to treat foods for export, by killing possibly harmful insects that might otherwise wreak ecological devastation in the country the food is destined to be exported to. Either or both organic and conventional foods might be treated with methyl bromide.
    Organic agriculture - a topic which includes the storage and shipping of the harvested crops, emphasizes local production for many reasons - does not use much if any methyl bromide. Industrial ag does. Most of the problems with its use are therefore avoided - solved - by adopting organic ag in place of industrial ag.
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  4. #304  
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    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post
    It means that nobody knew what the harmful dose level of the stuff was, or what the common exposure routes and levels were
    That is probably correct. However, that does not obviate my point, that levels on foods are most probably well below any harmful dose. As I have pointed out to you before, government agencies continuously analyse food samples for pesticide residues. I know from the NZ Food Safety Authority who do that work here that levels are normally parts per billion at most. To get a pesticide residue as high as one part per million is very rare. And 1 ppm is inevitably harmless.

    Here is a reference to chlorpyrifos levels found on food.
    http://www.whatsonmyfood.org/pestici...?pesticide=160
    The absolute maximum found was half of a part per million, and most were well below that.

    The organic food enthusiast movement has been claiming, for at least 20 years that I know, that pesticide residues on conventional food are harmful, but have never actually been able to supply any data to back this up. I have been following this issue for several decades now, and have still seen no credible data to the effect that synthetic pesticide residues on food can cause any harm whatever - because their residue levels are too low to be anything but benign.

    There was a time, in the 1940's to 1960's when things were different. But the old nasty pesticides have been done away with, and modern ones are biodegradable, and usually very low in mammalian toxicity.

    Ironically, as I have showed you, organic food can and has been consumed with levels of toxin high enough to put people in hospital. This does not happen with modern conventional food.

    Methyl bromide. You cannot dump that without finding a substitute. Export food has to be made safe from contaminating insects, spiders etc. Otherwise you may be guilty of importing a pest into another country that has a devastating effect on its ecology. This applies equally well to exports of organic food. As I said before, I rather like the use of gamma irradiation, which leaves no residues to act as greenhouse gases. As long as some technique like this is used, replacing methyl bromide is a good thing.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    That is probably correct. However, that does not obviate my point, that levels on foods are most probably well below any harmful dose
    It makes your continually repeated opinion there not a point, or a reasonable claim of fact, but an assertion without support in evidence or argument. This has been pointed out to you many times now. You can believe it if you want to, perhaps as part of some kind of dogmatic reliance on authoritarian pronouncements, but the organic ag people have many reasons to doubt its, their, and your reliability.

    And the entire matter has yet to be addressed from the pov of organic ag solving problems. The problem of too many government agencies tripping over their bureaucratic requirements, vulnerable to political influence and corporate bribery, inadequately thorough and easily gamed, for example, might come up in this context.

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    As I have pointed out to you before, government agencies continuously analyse food samples for pesticide residues.
    And they have a track record we can examine, in order to decide how much to rely on them. Just for another of the several examples of their failures of the past: They rang no alarm bells when sequestered glysphosphate compounds started turning up in everyone's industrial food, in forms never examined for their effects on human biology.

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    I have been following this issue for several decades now, and have still seen no credible data to the effect that synthetic pesticide residues on food can cause any harm whatever - because their residue levels are too low to be anything but benign.
    Your notion of "credible data" and mine vary considerably, and your unwarranted presumptions about the actual exposure levels of these chemicals is just one indication that your judgments in this matter are not based in reality.

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    Methyl bromide
    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    . You cannot dump that without finding a substitute.
    You mean industrial agriculture cannot dump it. With organic ag, it's already dumped.

    Illustrating another problem with industrial ag that organic ag often solves: by the time the bad news comes out, these chemicals and techniques and practices are often intrinsic parts of huge operations predicated on economies of scale and controlling large fractions of everybody's food. We frequently find ourselves trying to find substitutes for stuff we could have much more easily simply avoided, with a great deal of money and power riding on the status quo.
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  6. #306  
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    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post
    .You mean industrial agriculture cannot dump it. .
    When food is exported, it is putting the entire ecology of the recipient country at risk, because insects and other arthropods are often in the food. One single pregnant spider arriving unharmed may result in ecological catastrophe. Some method of killing those insects or spiders is needed. Methyl bromide has been the standard. To do away with methyl bromide and not find an alternative is to commit ecological recklessness on the highest level.

    It makes exactly zero difference whether the food being exported is organic or conventional. Exporting arthropods is potential disaster. Or do you not care about conservation?
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    It makes exactly zero difference whether the food being exported is organic or conventional.
    So? Organic ag tends to be less heavily export dependent in the first place, solving that problem by avoidance again. Europe bans the stuff altogether - another avoidance that works.

    Or we could simply concentrate on the uses that do not have such justifications:
    Quote Originally Posted by wiki
    In 2004, over 7 million pounds of bromomethane were applied to California. Applications include tomato, strawberry, and ornamental shrub growers, and fumigation of ham/pork products. Also exempt is the treatment of solid wood packaging (forklift pallets, crates, bracing), and the packaged goods, being exported to ISPM 15 countries(to include Canada in 2012).
    Essentially all of that, adn any associated risks or problems, is on the books of industrial ag. It would be avoided by changing to organic ag.
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  8. #308  
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    Iceaura

    That is nonsense.
    Methyl bromide is used to kill arthropods which might provoke ecological disaster.

    It has nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with the distinction between organic and conventional.

    Take my country. We import a few Californian oranges, and Chilean grapes in the off season. Both the USA and Chile have insects and spiders that would be disastrous in NZ. So if those fruits are to be exported to NZ, there is a NZ government directive that they must be treated to kill arthropods. Organic or conventional does not matter. It is the bloody arthropods that matter.

    This is not agriculture. It is post harvest treatment. Agriculture ends when the crops are harvested. After that, it is food handling and food technology. Changing to organic agriculture will not change the need to use methyl bromide or an alternative to kill arthropods on food that is exported.
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  9. #309  
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    So even organically grown crops, can contain pesticides?
    Growing up, i marveled at star-trek's science, and ignored the perfect society. Now, i try to ignore their science, and marvel at the society.

    Imagine, being able to create matter out of thin air, and not coming up with using drones for boarding hostile ships. Or using drones to defend your own ship. Heck, using drones to block energy attacks, counterattack or for surveillance. Unless, of course, they are nano-machines in your blood, which is a billion times more complex..
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  10. #310  
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    Organic agriculture also uses pesticides. I assume it's not possible to grow crops, at least in industrial quantities, without them.

    www.google.com/search?q=organic+agriculture+pesticides

    As to...
    1. there are residues
    2. those residues are harmful in the longer term
    3. provided they are harmful, whether they are more/less harmful than synthetic pesticides

    ... these issues have been discussed in pages above if you have the courage to go through 300+ posts :-)
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  11. #311  
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    That is nonsense.
    You'll have to be a bit more specific. Is it nonsense to observe that organic ag tends to be less export/import dependent? Is it nonsense to observe (with a link and specific example of California) that many industrial ag operations use methyl bromide as an insecticide and soil sterilizer and storage fumigant, without bearing on exports of arthropods? Would it be nonsense to observe that Europe bans the stuff, and New Zealand nevertheless imports foodstuffs from Europe, proving that the stuff is not absolutely necessary even for industrial ag export - it's just cheaper for the industry than the alternatives?
    Quote Originally Posted by zwolver
    So even organically grown crops, can contain pesticides?
    Of course. One of them, usually labeled Bt, is a hot button issue that has been mentioned dozens of times throughout the forum - it's one of the safest and most benign pesticides known, so the ongoing destruction of its effectiveness by industrial ag is a problem, and one of the problems avoidable by avoiding industrial ag (in this case, avoiding certain kinds of genetic engineering).



    Quote Originally Posted by winfried
    1. there are residues
    2. those residues are harmful in the longer term
    3. provided they are harmful, whether they are more/less harmful than synthetic pesticides

    ... these issues have been discussed in pages above
    No, they haven't. I've tried, but no luck so far.

    edit in: just realized that the destruction of the effectiveness of biocides even in non-agricultural settings (antibiotics, pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, etc) is a problem of industrial ag. We lost DDT as an anti-malarial agent, for example, because of industrial agriclture's use of the chemical. We will soon lose Bt, probably. Antibiotics are on the line - the better ones may have been lost already, quite possibly in part from industrial ag overuse. The safest and best will be ruined first, because they are easier and cheaper to broadcast indiscriminately, safer to GM into marketed product, generally less trouble to abuse. That is a problem that organic ag can solve.

    With organic ag tech, we might still have DDT available. That would help a few problems
    Last edited by iceaura; July 17th, 2012 at 06:23 PM.
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  12. #312  
    New Member corwinlame's Avatar
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    Now a days Organic agriculture is very effected to the plants, You can also use best hydroponic system for your plant. This organic system is solved many problems like improving some fruits quality. Main benefits are you can get every fruits in every seasons.
    Latest led grow lights.
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  13. #313  
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    Incidently, the NYT just published an article on the subject:

    The Stanford report, an analysis of 237 studies of organic produce, meats and dairy foods, concluded that organic foods are no more nutritious than their conventional counterparts. Advocates of organic foods, meanwhile, say that the study takes a narrow view of organic food choices, and that most people choose organic because they want to avoid pesticides, hormones and other chemicals used in conventional farming.
    "Organic Food vs. Conventional Food"
    Organic Food vs. Conventional Food - NYTimes.com
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