Myth busting on pesticides: Despite demonization, organic farmers widely use them


One principal “advantage” of organic food over genetically modified conventionally grown crops, many consumers believe, is that organic food are free of pesticides. It’s not only much of the public believes that. Well-trusted non profits, such as Consumer Reports, promotes that view as well.

For example, in early 2015, it released “From Crop to Table Report,”which notes in one sub-headline, seemingly with horror, that “Pesticides are designed to be toxic to living organisms.” and has another info-box headlined, “Organic: Farming Without Pesticides.”screen-shot-2016-11-30-at-7-31-52-pm

But the headlines–promoting the widespread myth about organic farming–are flat out not accurate. The truth is, all farmers use pesticides. And these chemicals–some of which are among the most dangerous pesticides used by farmers today–are all with the approval of the US Department of Agriculture.

In fact, Consumer Reports backtracks from its misleading “Organic Farming: Without Pesticides” headline in its own info-box, which, like the overall article, is a mishmash of conflicting statements and cherry picked factoids. It notes, “Federal law prohibits the use of almost all synthetic pesticides on organic farms” and then a few paragraphs later, it contradictorily states, “Only 10 synthetic insecticides are approved for use on organic farms.”

CR is typical among organizations that have taken an advocacy, rather than a science-based, stance on the great debate over pesticide use and modern farming. This CR piece–now a standard part of CR’s outreach effort on food–was produced with the “expert” guidance of its chief consultant” Charles Benbrook, an agricultural economist pushed out as an adjunct professor at Washington State University in March 2015. Benbrook’s recent research comparing organic and conventional agriculture, published almost entirely in pay-for-play predatory journals, was financed entirely by advocacy anti-GMO organic organizations. [Read GLP Biotech Gallery profile of Benbrook]

Under Benbrook’s guidance, CR has subtly promoted the myth that organic farming can somehow magically control insects and weeds without using chemicals of one kind or another, and the ones that do use are less toxic than targeted synethic chemicals used by conventional farmers.

What does the science say?

Long list of organic pesticides

Some specific chemicals are not approved for use on organic farms, including organophosphates, glyphosate, atrazine and methyl bromide. But a surprisingly high number of pesticides are allowed. And some organic farmers would like government permission to use even more synthetic pesticides

The USDA National List of allowed pesticides for organic growers is quite long. The list includes some substances that one would assume would be relatively harmless, such as mulch, dairy cultures or vitamin B. But others on the list should raise eyebrows: Copper sulfate, elemental sulfur, borax and borates are all known to cause some harm to humans and are approved members of the organic list. Among “synthetic” pesticides, pyrethrums are still allowed, and Vitamin C that is chemically derived (and therefore synthetic) is allowed, as are various forms of alcohol.

Whether “natural” or “synthetic,” these chemicals have unintended side effects. As to safety differences between the two categories, “You can’t generalize that broadly,” said Rob Wallbridge, an organic farmer in Quebec, Canada. “Every pesticide has a different profile, and there are many different ways to define safety.”

Acute toxicity (measured by half of a lethal dose, or LD50) is very often used, but rates of exposure, persistence in the environment, chronic chemical effects, and impact on off-target animals and plants also are important considerations. One criticism of organic pesticides, in fact, is that a farmer has to use a lot of them to get the same effect as conventional pesticide. If it’s true that “the poison is in the dosage,” then some organic pesticides (like sulfur or copper) do not look very benign.

A September article in the GLP outlined just how extensively organic farmers use pesticides. Plant scientist Steve Savage broke out the latest California pesticide use data, dating to 2013, based on pounds. The categories that have organic-approved active ingredients are indicated with the USDA logo and together these comprise 55 percent of the total pounds applied. These materials are extensively used by both organic and non-organic growers. The conventional growers have additional options, but definitely use some of these same materials as part of a resistance management strategy and for other practical reasons. As the chart used, in California, the country’s leading agricultural state, organic farmers use more chemicals per pound than do conventional farmers.screen-shot-2015-09-28-at-7-20-49-pm-1024x744


What pesticides are used most often in organic farms?

  • Bt (the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis) is the most widely used pesticide, accounting for 90 percent of the organic pest control market. Ironically, Bt is also engineered into many GMO crops to express the Bt Cry protein (for example, Bt cotton, Bt soy, Bt corn), but is attacked by anti-GMO extremists as being ‘dangerous’)
  • Spinosad, an insecticide derived from soil bacteria (and can cause some irritation and redness with direct contact, according to the National Pesticide Information Center), is also very popular on organic farms.
  • Lime sulfur also has been used as a fungicide on organic crops. However, the EPA restricted its used in 2008 so that only professional pesticide appliers could use it. The reason? It was too caustic, capable of causing burns.
  • Kaolin clay, which provides a physical barrier to sun damage and to insects.

According to Savage:

The mineral-based pesticides include the fungicide/miticide—sulfur, which is the most heavily used pesticide in California by a wide margin (27.6 percent of all the pounds). Sulfur has been used by farmers since ancient times. Other organic-approved, mineral pesticides include lime sulfur, and several different forms of copper. Copper fungicides were discovered in the late 1800s and saved the grape industry in Europefrom a disease introduced from the new world. On the whole, these mineral-based pesticides tend to be high use rate materials (2 to 10 to even 25 pounds/acre/application).  Thus the minerals only account for 12% of the area treated.screen-shot-2015-09-28-at-7-26-47-pm

The next major class of organic-approved pesticides are various petroleum-based oils (mineral oil, paraffinic oil, petroleum distillates). These materials are useful for control of several “soft bodied” insect pests and powdery mildew. Again, their use rates are high (~9 lbs/acre) so even though they represent 20.4 percent of the total pounds, they treat only 5.8 percent of the acreage.  Conventional farmers also use these products.

The remainder of the organic-approved pesticides are either natural products (chemicals from plants or fermentations of microbes), or live biological organisms. They are typically very low use rate materials but together still only account for 3.1 percent of the acre-treatments (see chart below).  They include the Bt insecticides that are based on the same proteins that are expressed in Bt-crops through biotechnology.

The fundamental misconception, addressed by Savage, is the issue of toxicity of residues in the food they eat. In fact, the pesticides in use today by both organic and conventional farmers have very low acute toxicity.screen-shot-2015-09-28-at-7-30-11-pm-1024x644

What about the potential for collateral damage to beneficial insects?

Anti-GMO activists have repeatedly claimed that certain chemicals, including the herbicide glyphosate used in conjunction with modified corn and other crops, have been responsible for reducing populations of bees, butterflies and other “non-target” species. Recent studies have challenged these claims. It’s also been documented that certain organic pesticides are far more lethal than any known GMO-linked pesticide. According to the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, organic-approved pelylysticides including Beauveria bassiana, a naturally occurring fungus, diatomaceous earth, insecticidal soap, horticultural oil, pyrethrins, rotenone (another organic-approved synthetic which is now banned), spinosad, and copper sulfate can be very toxic to bees.

Surprising chemical loophole

In addition to these pesticides, organic farms are, in certain circumstances, permitted to use chemicals that are supposedly banned for organic use. One of these is methyl bromide, a fumigant that is used to boost strawberry growth. Although use of methyl bromide was banned several years ago, conventional growers can still use it if no viable alternatives are available. But organic farmers can also use it, for largely the same reasons. For “perennial planting stock,” those plants that are grown throughout the year, there aren’t many organic sources of the initial seedlings. So, organic farmers are allowed to use non-organic strawberry plants, complete with methyl bromide injected into the ground, and grow them as “organic” strawberries, as long as the plants are replanted and/or organically managed starting a year before harvesting.

No farmer likes pesticides. If it were possible to grow food without them, nobody would hesitate, but this isn’t possible. For anti-GMO activists to point at organic food as a “pesticide-free” alternative to genetically modified and other conventionally grown foods or suggest food grown using organic methods is safer is inaccurate at best. In fact, pesticide use overall has dropped steadily over the past two decades–and insecticide use in particular by more than 90%–as much due to genetically modified foods as to better tillage and other farming practices–and not because organics are “pesticide free.” All farming practices today are safer–and no particular method guarantees fewer chemicals, let alone fewer toxic chemicals.

Andrew Porterfield is a writer, editor and communications consultant for academic institutions, companies and non-profits in the life sciences. He is based in Camarillo, California. Follow @AMPorterfield on Twitter.

  • Peter Kleiss

    Regardless of who uses them, GMO farmers or organic farmers, if any chemical sprayed on crops causes human health problems, they shouldn’t be used, period.

    • JoeFarmer

      ‘Ya think?

      Maybe that’s why EPA has authority to regulate pesticides via FIFRA. And USDA. And even FDA, sometimes.

      Got any other pearls of wisdom? Like making sure not to drop a bowling ball on your toes?

      • Peter Kleiss

        Another glorious example of how you add nothing but ad hominem attacks. Bravo!

        • Nothing obviously ad hom in there — the criticism is of the lack of content in your comment, nothing about you as a person. Everyone already agrees with that position; the difference tends to be in the interpretation of what “causes human health problems”.

    • RobertWager

      Can you please give us your definition of “human health problems” then we can discuss it.

      • Peter Kleiss

        There are a myriad of them. I am surprised you are unaware of at least a few. For example, there are reproductive issues, gut bacteria issues, neurological issues, chronic issues and more!

        • Really ?!?! A myriad ?!?! Related to WHICH chemicals ?!?! You are merely selecting alarmist terms in order to alarm and enrage the reader. In fact, you KNOW NOTHING about pest control products.

        • Good4U

          All pesticides that are used today are thoroughly tested in animal feeding studies for the types of effects that you listed. The toxicology studies that support registrations are thoroughly reviewed by the regulatory agencies, and risk assessments are conducted before any regulatory decisions are made, either to approve or to disapprove of the registration. The decision documents pertaining to every pesticide are freely available on the internet. There is no “myriad” of such problems as you listed.
          Kleiss, this is not the first time that you have been thoroughly and completely instructed on this matter. You keep coming back and trolling this website with alarmist rhetoric that is not based on any fact. You should ask yourself why you are acting sociopathically in doing this. No one wants to read garbage.

    • What human health problems ?!?! Pest control products are scientifically-safe and will cause no harm.

    • Farmer Sue

      Dream on. Or write fiction. Or welcome to the real world.

  • Wackes Seppi

    Arsenic and strychnine are prohibited if I read the document correctly.

    This doesn’t change the thrust of the above piece: organic uses pesticides.

    • Not only do organic farmers use pesticides, but when it comes to a pesticide like Bt, organic farmers wind up killing non-target insects when they broadcast this biological-control agent, while GMO Bt only kills the insects that try eating the crop.

    • Andrew Porterfield

      Thanks for the catch. Those got mixed in there inadvertently. And you’re right: the use of “organic” pesticides is still substantial.

      • In addition to “organic” pesticides, there is also the fact that a whopping 43% of all organic food sold in America tests positive for prohibited, or synthetic pesticides. This is because there is no field testing to prevent fraud.

        • Daniel Bieniek

          Do you have an valid source for that statement – regarding 43% of all organic food sold in the US test positive for either prohibited or synthetic pesticides? This was interesseting.

          • Daniel Bieniek

            Thank you – Mischa. Appreciate it. Regarding the organic and what is allowed and not. We have the same issues here in Norway.

          • Daniel Bieniek

            Even if the design on the webpage did make my eyes bleed. A lot of the links are relevant. The eco-lobby strategi seems to be global in the mission to “save the world”.

          • Michael J. Sieler Jr.

            Thank you for taking the time to write all these responses and cite your sources.

          • Wackes Seppi
          • Daniel Bieniek

            Thanks! In 85.1 % of the organic products no detectable residues were found.

            This means that for the EU 14,9% did have detectable residues. The eco-lobby need to modify the “no-pesticides”.

            Took a closer look on page 79 –> A lot of “dirty” list that I did not expect. Like DDT.

          • Ole J. Hansson

            “Residues of hexachlorobenzene, DDT and dieldrin are most likely resulting from environmental contaminations in soil, due to the use of these persistent compounds in the past.” (p 77)


          • Daniel Bieniek

            Fine input, and regardless of agriculture its not good news for the soil. I could usefully clarified this further in my first post. Since its just as relevant for the convensial as well for the organic.

        • Ole J. Hansson

          I think your comment is deliberately misleading when it states that “43 % of all organic food sold in America tests positive for prohibited, or synthetic pesticides” “because there is no field testing to prevent fraud”

          That is not what the report you listed as your source concluded with, rather it said that these residues were most likely a result of the farming methods used on neighboring farms:

          “there can be inadvertent or indirect contact from neighboring conventional farms or shared handling facilities.”

          and for that reason the report states that:

          “As long as the operator hasn’t directly applied prohibited pesticides and has documented efforts to minimize exposure to them, the USDA organic regulations allow residues of prohibited pesticides up to 5 percent of the EPA tolerance.”

          and the overall conclusion is:

          “Of these 571 samples, 96 percent were compliant with USDA organic regulations (see Figure ES1). This means that the produce either had no detected residues (57 percent) or had residues less than 5 percent of the EPA tolerance (39 percent). Four percent of the tested samples contained residues above 5 percent of the EPA tolerance and were in violation of the USDA organic regulations. The findings suggest that some of the samples in violation were mislabeled conventional products, while others were organic products that hadn’t been adequately protected from prohibited pesticides.”

          That is a very different statement than the one you made.

          • This is why the CBC agreed with me when similar tests on organic food were done up up in Canada, and concluded that these high pesticide levels in organic food were most-likely due to fraud.

            But don’t take my word for it:

          • Ole J. Hansson

            What exactly did the CBC agree with you on? They found that according to their tests 8 % of the tested organic fields, IN CANADA (In the US the number was 4 % remember), had residue-levels above 5 % of MRL, which INDICATES deliberate use. Was that your point as well?

          • No… what the CBC concluded was that the inordinately high levels of pesticide contamination in organic food could not possibly be the result of spray drift.

            As explained, spray dissipates logarithmically. This is why organic fields are required to have a 25-foot buffer.

            43% of organic food in America, and 46% in Canada, tested positive for prohibited pesticides because organic farmers somewhere in the world are cheating. Plain and simple.

            And there’s cheating in this multibillion dollar industry because there’s no field testing.

          • Ole J. Hansson

            You might be right, but can you please direct me to what part of the article you posted as a source that document it? I can only find these statements on the results of the cbc news investigations:

            “As much as eight per cent of organic produce tested by Canadian inspectors has so much pesticide residue that experts say there is a strong indication synthetic chemicals were deliberately used, a CBC News investigation has found.”

            “In an analysis of two years of testing conducted by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), CBC News found eight per cent of organic fresh fruit and vegetables would be in the category that the agency says would imply deliberate pesticide use.”


          • The USDA’s 5% rule only applies in cases where contamination of an organic crop was inadvertent. We cannot allow it to be applied to farmers who might wish to spray their “organic” crops with prohibited pesticides, and then wait until the contamination levels dissipated to below the acceptable level.

          • hyperzombie

            So many cheaters in the organic industry… Something needs to be done.. I bet a substantial amount of Organic corn is also GMO, no tests are done. It is way to easy to cheat If I was an Organic canola I could fill my truck up with 1/2 my canola, stop at the neighbors place and fill the rest of the truck with non Organic canola and just show them my Organic paper work and I have just made 4x more than any farmer growing the crop legally.

          • What you describe would have been difficult, if not impossible, back when I was inspecting. A stringent audit would quickly expose what you describe, but I can’t say for certain if organic inspectors do such audits anymore.

            If we assume someone like me does a proper audit, the only way left for you to cheat would be to use synthetic fertilizer and pesticides on your organic crop. And this is why organic field testing is so important, but no one’s doing it.

          • Question

            Interesting… How does one make money by testing this produce?

          • Make Money? I’m sorry, but I don’t follow.

            Organic farmers pay to be certified, but all they’re paying for is paperwork.

            The cost of a field test would be less than one-tenth what organic farmers are currently forced to pay for organic certification.

          • Question

            Yes. I want to start a business

          • hyperzombie

            What you describe would have been difficult, if not impossible

            Nope, easy peasy.

            . A stringent audit would quickly expose what you describe, but I can’t say for certain if organic inspectors do such audits anymore.

            How??? and are there any stringent audits?

            the only way left for you to cheat would be to use synthetic fertilizer and pesticides on your organic crop

            Isnt that the whole point of organic? If I can use synthetic pesticides and fertilizer what is the point??

          • Exactly. I don’t know if there are any stringent audits anymore. I certainly did them when I was an organic inspector. But I knew a lot of inspectors who were too lazy.

            As for using prohibited substances on an organic field, this is why we need organic field testing. Unannounced, across-the-board field testing.

          • Ole J. Hansson

            No, I definitely agree with you here, but I am not yet convinced that this is actually happening in the scale that you say it does. So far I have only been given proof that samples have been above the 5 % limit in 4 % of the cases in the US and 8 % of the cases in Canada (based on a very few, and not necessarily representative, samples). And even though I understand your objections to the regulatory regime of today`s America (concerning imported products, lack of field testing of domestically grown products during instead of after the growing season, and field testing instead of shelf-testing), I can not accept your guilty till proven othervise approach to this.

            But in general I support strict regulations on organic produce, to protect the organic-label from contamination.

          • Who said anyone was guilty?

            What I know is that unless samples are taken in the field, the test results are largely meaningless.

            It is quite telling… not to mention disturbing… that 43% of organic food tests positive for prohibited pesticides. But the 5% rule we’re discussing applies in the field, not at the store shelf.

          • I’m going to try to help you out here Mr. Ole J. Hansson…

            Spray dissipates logarithmically. This means that for every yard you travel across the fence line from a conventional field into an organic field, there is 10-times LESS pesticide residue. And by the time you reach the 8-yard mark (or 25 feet) there is only a dramatically-small percentage of pesticide residue left. In fact, in most cases, it has dissipated to what is called “effective nil,” which is as close to zero (0) as you can get.

          • Ole J. Hansson

            Ok, Mr. Mischa Popoff, so what you (in a condescending way) is trying to make me understand here, is that the USDA regulations on this, namely to “allow residues of prohibited pesticides up to 5 percent of the EPA tolerance.” is not an appropriate way to reveal deliberate fraud…?


          • The 5% rule is entirely approrpiate. The problem here is that organic crops are supposed to be inspected in the field, not on the store shelf. That’s how organic certification works.

            I was a USDA-contract organic inspector for 5 years. Sorry if I came off as condescending. I really was trying to help you out. But I apologize nonetheless.

          • Ole J. Hansson

            Ok, then you are entitled to a bit of condescendingness, maybe 15 %? ; )

            So you are saying that at the moment, when testing is being made, they are done on the product on the shelves, and not in the fields, and that this should change ASAP, right? Because that would ensure that…(please elaborate, I didn`t quite get the point here, why this makes the testing better able to detect frauds?) ?

            (Your underlying wish here is to improve the USDA-inspections of the organic industry, so that consumers will better know what they pay for, right?)

            (Thank you for sharing your knowledge to a newcomer in the field..)

        • Ole J. Hansson

          I find it very strange that you make statements like this: “there is no field testing to prevent fraud.” and then, yourself, post links that proves you are wrong:

          “Starting in 2013, the USDA required five per cent of organic operations to undergo routine pesticide residue testing.”

          and farmers that violate the rules in the US have been given both fines and prison time:

          “In April 2012, Harold Chase of Springfield, Ore., was sent to prison for more than two years after he pleaded guilty to wire fraud for selling in excess of four million pounds of corn falsely labelled as organically grown.”

          Obviously you were not speaking about Canada in the first place, but if you had, you would have been partly right: “No such testing program exists in Canada, although the CFIA does test a certain amount of organic produce in its pesticide monitoring program for all foods.”

          and both the follow up, and the punishment for violations there, all in all seems less convincing, less mature, than in the US

          • There is no organic field testing in either the United States or Canada. There is only a tiny amount of end-product testing, which is as useless as testing Olympic athletes AFTER the Games instead of during.

            In the rare cases where someone is caught cheating, it is never because that person’s crops failed a pesticide residue test.

            If I am wrong, then someone from the USDA or CFIA should be able to show evidence that there is field testing. You know… like some test results.

            Instead, all we have are the USDA’s and CFIA’s pilot studies into organic end-product testing, and no field testing. None.

          • Ole J. Hansson

            Again, you might be right, I might have been misled by the article you posted, which clearly states that

            “Starting in 2013, the USDA required five per cent of organic operations to undergo routine pesticide residue testing.”


            “No such testing program exists in Canada, ”


            Anyway, If you are right, I hope they will start testing fields soon. It seems to be in everyone`s interest.

          • Yes, organic testing
            field testing is long overdue soon. It’s in everyone`s interest, especially domestic organic farmers who’re being crushed by phony “organic” imports.

  • Jon

    Andrew, sorry to be ‘that guy’… check your spelling on your biological pesticide Genus and species (ex. bassiana…). Also it is important to indicate the difference between Bt as the bacteria, and the Bt toxin (Cry proteins) as expressed in plants. The GM plants do not create whole bacteria 🙂

  • mem_somerville

    It’s funny what they can and can’t use. One of my favorite examples was the antibiotics. They crow about not using antibiotics. Except when they have to.

    • JoeFarmer

      Livestock vaccines are almost as entertaining.

      A NOSB-approved non-GM vaccine gets discontinued, and what do the organic faithful do? Continue production of the non-GM vaccine on their own dime? Oh, hell no, they revise their rules to allow the recombinant vaccine. Without press releases to trumpet the change, obvi.

      You’ve gotta wonder how much of the organic playbook came from the LDS/RLDS Mormon game plan where you just re-write history when it becomes a little inconvenient.

      • Ripshed

        This ang person is apparently some stalker who has appointed him or herself the position of determining whose opinions are correct based solely on social media rankings of popularity.

        Of course, he or she wouldn’t apply that standard to his or herself; ang is a nobody, social-media wise.

  • Qurious

    RE: In fact, Consumer Reports backtracked from its misleading headline in its article, nothing (noting? – literacy?) that it (huh?) natural pesticides–which are not necessarily safer than synthetic ones are often less targeted to protect beneficial insects–are common. It writes: “Federal law prohibits the use of almost all synthetic pesticides on organic farms.” It then stumbled again in its summary, writing, “There are currently no synthetic herbicides approved for use on organic food crops,” only to reverse itself, noting, “Only 10 synthetic insecticides are approved for use on organic farms.”

    No discrepancies here. Pesticides is a broad term including insecticides and herbicides (and fugicides). Different classes. 100% possible to have no synthetic herbicides approved, but 10 synthetic insecticides. Funny that this article is written at a “literacy” website. Do your research before criticizing others.

  • Organic food has been a dismally bogus failure. Allegations by activists that organic pesticide-free food will someday replace conventional food are ludicrous. Even more ludicrous is the expectation that pest control products will someday and somehow no longer be necessary for agriculture. Any restriction on the use of pest control products would result in a substantial reduction in harvests and a related substantial increase in food costs, lack of affordable food, huge increases in starvation, and tens of thousands of additional deaths among the poor of the world. WILLIAM H GATHERCOLE AND NORAH G

    • Not only has the organic movement failed to provide a viable alternative to modern farming, but it relies on imports three-quarters of the time, and over 43% of all organic food sold in America tests positive for PROHIBITED pesticides.

    • Ole J. Hansson

      It seems to me that Gabe Brown partly proves you are wrong. Even though he is not an organic farmer, per se, he does not use any pesticides, fungicides, or synthetic fertilizer, or irrigation. But he does use some herbicides every two or three years, though trying to eliminate even these. Despite this his yields are 25 % above county average. So large scale agriculture without much use of “pest control products” will not necessarily “result in a substancial reduction in harvests” (assuming that soil organic carbon and general soil health is not included in this category), even though not many farmers today practice his methods.

      When it comes to “the poor of the world” issue, obviously it is a complicated one. But according to FAO, organic methods seems to be the best ones for the poorest:

      And this report also speeks along the same lines:

      And this one

      and this one:

      • We only have his word that his yields are higher. We only have his word regarding his alleged management practices. His word is NOT good enough for us.

        • Farmer Sue

          Need to be specific when one compares crops ….. in my area, local gmo sugar beet farmers see a 40% higher yield than before, when they were growing non-GE sugar beets. And with no tilling of the soil to get rid of weeds.

        • Ole J. Hansson

          Yes, I accept that point. Even though he is a high profile farmer

          who has received a lot of positive attention from people around the globe, among them scientists

          (“I’m greatly inspired by the multi-species cover crop revolution in the United States. Leading-edge farmers like Gabe Brown, Dave Brandt and Gail Fuller are showing it’s possible to maintain or even improve crop yields while winding back on fertilizer. These farmers are light years ahead of the science. They’re building soil, improving the infiltration of water, increasing water holding capacity and getting fantastic yields.” 4/9


          I can not prove that he is not fooling everyone. But I guess it will make some fuzz if someone can actually prove that he is a fraud.

          What about the UN-reports on how best to feed “the poor of the world”? What kind of sources do you have against these to back up your claims?

        • Ole J. Hansson

          “These cropping practices have improved the biological resources on the farm
          and led to reductions in purchased fertilizers and pesticides. Their initial soil organic matter was less
          than 2% and now runs about 5 to 6% organic matter. They have observed that the soils now have
          the ability to store large quantities of water – a critical characteristic in a
          region that only receives about 15 inches of total precipitation annually. In 1991, the average infiltration rate of
          water into soil on their farm was ½” per hour.
          By 2011, this had increased to 8” per hour. By
          employing high levels of diversity and “regenerating landscapes and balancing
          biodiversity,“ the Brown’s have reduced the use of synthetic fertilizer
          by over 90% and the use of herbicides by over 75%, and continue to work on
          reducing herbicide use. No GMO
          varieties, insecticides, or fungicides are used.”

  • Rob Wallbridge is misleading readers when he suggests there are many different ways to define the safety of pesticides. There are only 2 ways: toxicity and the impact on non-target pests. Organic pesticides fail on both counts.

  • ang

    direct quote :: The USDA National List of allowed pesticides for organic growers is quite long. The list includes some substances that one would assume would be relatively harmless, such as mulch, dairy cultures or vitamin B. But others on the list should raise eyebrows: Copper sulfate, elemental sulfur, borax and borates are all known to cause some harm to humans and are approved members of the organic list. Among “synthetic” pesticides, pyrethrums are still allowed, and Vitamin C that is chemically derived (and therefore synthetic) is allowed, as are various forms of alcohol.
    AND CAN HAVE ANY AMOUNT OF GMO CONTAMINATION, as long as the organic farmer, didnt plant it. WITH THESE RIDICULOUS RULES, the author, et al, do your seriously think, anyone in the world, including USA, can seriously consider your labelling for Organic to be genuine and correct? You admit yourself, Organic is full of pesticides in USA, and GMOs. The rest of the world, does not take USA labelling seriously, as you are obviously manipulators, and blatant liars. Enjoy your own crops.. The rest of the world wont buy it… Cheers! The author of this article, has yet again convinced me, not to touch food produced in USA> as Organic, is ANYTHING BUT ORGANIC, THE AUTHOR ADMITS THIS CLEARLY.

    • Ripshed

      We export a large amount of food overseas. Try again.

  • Ripshed

    You seem to be missing the point and are going off topic. This article is a response to the claims that organic farms don’t use pesticides. They clearly do, and those pesticides come with a whole host of potential dangers.

  • Ripshed

    Bt is not a “bug”. Bt is not infectious.

  • agscienceliterate

    Bt does not affect the human gut, which is very different from an insect’s gut.
    It is not a “bug.”
    You seem surprised that organic farmers use this.

  • Temp Fourthirty

    Agriculture without insecticides and fungicides would produce a small fraction of what is currently grown. And only a fraction of the current population could be supported by such agriculture. Maybe that is the goal for some?

    • Boulder7777

      Temp, do you mean population control (genocide through starvation) by crop inadequacy? Yup, sounds about right, and I can bet that some of the bloggers here would think that was perfectly sound reasoning.
      Good point.

  • Paleo Huntress

    You can’t wash the BT off of BT corn. You can wash it off of organic corn treated with BT.

    • Jason


  • alicewonders

    GMO plants are designed to require applications of Monsanto’s key product – pesticides – particularly neonicotinoids (culpable in bee colony collapse) and glyphosate.

    The UN’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) recently found that three pesticides were “probably” carcinogenic and two others, which have already been outlawed or restricted, were “possibly” so.

    IARC classified the herbicide glyphosate – the active ingredient in Roundup – and the insecticides malathion and diazinon as “probably carcinogenic” on the basis of “limited evidence” of cancer among humans.…/un-cancer-agency-issues…

    • Hate to pop your hate bubble but Monsanto does not make neonicotinoids (which are not linked to colony collapse) and which are not linked to GMOS. Glyphosate is a generic chemical, which is also made by Monsanto yes. And yes, one agency which studies hazards placed glyphosate in the same hazard category as coffee and excessive sunshine, frying foods and alcohol–it can cause cancer if it’s “used” improperly. The hazard evaluation focused on multiple exposures to workers over lifetime exposure at unrealistic levels and not to casual exposure to micro trace values in food. Glyphosate is perfectly are as used, and it’s been cleared as so by the World Health Organization’s risk evaluation program (which is the regulatory recommendation group and distinct from a hazard evaluation which does not measure real world usage). Better if you stick to science rather than scare information, and good to get your facts straight before posting misinformation.

    • Jason

      You should check a Monsanto financial sheet sometime. Their key products, by a very long margin, are seeds, not pesticides.