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Going organic can make huge difference - Adrian Desbarats
15
Jun '10
Adrian Desbarats, owner of an organic clothing company and advocate of chemical free agriculture exposes some disturbing facts about conventional pesticides and their global impacts.

Adrian Desbarats, sustainable living advocate, says pesticide use must be eliminated to stop the terrible human suffering and environmental toll exacted through its application. Going organic with your food and your clothing can make a huge difference.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that over three million cases of severe pesticide poisoning occur each year. Of these, at least 300,000 die with 99% of the cases being from third world countries.

As our world population increases, food and textile demand has led to a dramatic increase in pesticide use. In fact, pesticide use has increased by over 50 fold since 1950 with well over 2.3 million tonnes applied to agricultural land each year.

As WHO demonstrated, the direct human impact of pesticide use is huge. But there are also long term impacts. For example, many pesticides are known carcinogens. In India, the third largest cotton producer, pesticide use has been closely linked with an alarming increase in cancer rates in this country.

And there are also significant environmental impacts. Pesticide application is extremely difficult to control. Over 98% of sprayed insecticides and 95% of herbicides reach a destination other than their target. Pesticides are lost to the environment through aerial spread or by transport through precipitation to nearby water ways or direct seepage into soil and ground water. In the United States alone, pesticides were found to pollute every stream and over 90% of wells sampled in a study by the US Geological Survey.

Many pesticides are not easily degraded. So once they escape into the environment, their impact can have lasting deadly effects on soil biodiversity, plant diversity and animal diversity. Animals that are already stressed are particularly vulnerable. For example, the USDA and USFWS estimate that about 20% of the endangered and threatened species in the US are jeopardized by use of pesticides.

“The sad reality is that pesticide use is not necessary,” says Desbarats. “The pesticide industry is big, valued at well over 33 billion and growing rapidly. These pesticide companies want us to keep using and they spend a lot of money trying to convince the agricultural community of its necessity.”

But the true reality is that alternatives to pesticides do exist such as manually or mechanically removing weeds and pests from plants or, using traps and lures to catch pests. Pests can be controlled by removing their pest breeding sites, planting native plants that are resistant amongst the main crop and using bio-control agents such as birds and other pest eating animals.

According to Desbarats “about one third of a pound of pesticides is required for every cotton shirt made. We are literally contributing to the death of farmers in third world countries as well as to the destruction of habitat. I can see some logic in the argument that pesticides are needed to keep feeding the world. It is not a view I agree with, but I can see the reasoning. But where is the justification in the destruction of lives and habitat just to keep us in fast, cheap fashion? I see no logic there.”

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