The Final Say

Over the past few weeks, I have been talking about what pesticides are, why we have them, and what they potential effects are when consuming them. So What now? Well if any of these topics scared you or opened your eyes about what is actually going on with our produce, then I am going to give you a few ways to reduce or completely stop the intake of pesticides found on foods.

First you can lower the amount of chemicals consumed by washing fruits and vegetables before consuming them. A simple wash can get the majority of pesticides on the outside of the product. You can do your own research and find out which fruits and vegetables have the least amount of chemicals used in the growing process. Or you can use small amounts on your home garden, and doing so by reading the label and following the instructions to reduce the impact of pesticides on foods you love most.

There are some methods that can make it so no chemicals are introduced into your food. Buying organic or locally grown foods can have little to no pesticides used in the growing process. A better method would be to grow your own produce. This way you know exactly where your food can from, you know exactly what you put into the soil to make the produce grow. This can be achieved by using non-toxic methods for controlling insects and bacteria from destroying your hard work.

So if you don’t want anyone you know or yourself exposed to the dangerous amounts of chemicals used today by many farmers and food producers. Then maybe these tips can help you in reducing the amount of pesticides that you consume or even eliminate it from your diet overall by growing your own produce.

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Cites

Cowan, S. (2010, May 20). 6 Ways to Reduce Your Exposure to Pesticides. Retrieved from https://learn.eartheasy.com/articles/6-ways-to-reduce-your-exposure-to-pesticides/

Squash vine borer management in home gardens. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.extension.umn.edu/garden/insects/find/squash-vine-borers/

Pesticides in Agriculture

aglaw

In the United States, the federal government gave the Environmental Protection Agency the authority to regulate the production, sale, and use of chemical pesticides. The mission of the EPA is to protect human health and the environment. They do this by testing various chemicals and seeing what it can do to organisms and the environment over the long term, or if it is safe for consumption in small doses. There are three major laws that help the EPA regulate the pesticides in the United States.

The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act gives the EPA authority to regulate the sale, use and distribution of pesticides. All pesticides distributed or sold in the United States must be registered/licensed by the EPA but before a pesticide will be registered under FIFRA, the applicant must show, among other things, that using the pesticide will not generally cause unreasonable adverse effects on the environment or humans.

The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act gives the EPA authority to set limits on the amount of pesticide residues allowed on food or animal feed through tolerances. In setting tolerances, EPA must make a finding that the tolerance is safe. Once a tolerance is established, the residue level in the tolerance is the trigger for enforcement actions. That is, if residues are found above that level, the commodity will be subject to seizure by the government.

Also the Endangered Species Act has influenced the use of dangerous chemicals. This law requires the EPA to assess the risk of pesticides to threatened or endangered species and their habitats. EPA evaluates extensive environmental fate and toxicity data to determine how a pesticide will move through and break down in the environment and whether potential exposure to the pesticide will result in adverse effects to wildlife and vegetation.

There are more laws out there that pertain to the regulation of chemicals and pesticides in the United States but I these five were the most important because these are the basis of how chemicals that are put on food are regulated, and how the environment is affected. If chemical pesticides were not regulated, it could cause people to get sick, or even die, could cause animals to suffer or get sick, it could cause our water tables to be contaminated with dangerous chemicals than can lead to health problems not just for us but for future generations. I don’t think pesticide regulations have made it harder for farmers to grow anything since they were able grow more with the introduction of pesticides.

 

Cites

Pesticide Laws and Regulations. (n.d.). Retrieved April 13, 2018, from http://npic.orst.edu/reg/laws.html

Pesticides. (2018, March 26). Retrieved April 04, 2018, from https://www.epa.gov/pesticides

Summary of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act. (2017, August 24). Retrieved April 13, 2018, from https://www.epa.gov/laws-regulations/summary-federal-insecticide-fungicide-and-rodenticide-act

Our Mission and What We Do. (2018, February 07). Retrieved April 13, 2018, from https://www.epa.gov/aboutepa/our-mission-and-what-we-do

Intro to Food and Ag Law. (2017, September 13). Retrieved April 13, 2018, from https://sustfoodfarm.org/online-classes/ag-law/

Can they do that?

organic-gardening

Would a new bill by Congress make a backyard organic garden?

According to the bill HR 875, criminalizes organic farming, affects everyone growing food even if for their own consumption, effects anyone producing meat including wild game. Basically for the legislation, every aspect of growing food could potentially be illegal. It would give Monsanto, the company that created Round Up that I’ve talked about in past blogs, very powerful. And by powerful I mean it would give them more freedom to make and sell chemicals that could potentially harm humans. This bill doesn’t actually give Monsanto any power and they didn’t have anything to do with the writing of this bill. “A House bill proposes to split the Food & Drug Administration, creating a separate entity to oversee food safety. It’s aimed at food sold in supermarkets and doesn’t say anything about organic gardening, pesticides, farmers’ markets or that tomato plant in your backyard.” (Kinkead 2014)

What if this really were to happen? Thank goodness this is contemporary legend folklore. And I mean that because all this bill was supposed to do was split the FDA into food safety and drug regulation. This would focus on the protecting the public better by focusing on the food supply, and not both food and drugs. People make their own garden as not just a hobby, but they know what was on their fruits and vegetables that they grew in their own soil. It could cause outrage from the garden community. You are forcing people to eat food that they don’t know how it was grown, or what was used to make that crop.

Now how does this relate to pesticides? “Because organic is supposed to be 95% or more free of pesticides or chemicals in the ingredients, in order to get the organic label” (Henry 2012). There are some people out there that don’t want to eat food from the large producers that treat their crops with chemicals, they believe that digesting certain chemicals will cause harm to them.

How does this relate to me? Being a wildlife major, I do hunt, and when you harvest an animal you know that animal hasn’t been fed pesticides or chemicals. Wild game eat certain grasses and forbes that they like or need in their diet. They are not fed whatever the farmer gives them like pigs, cows, and other types of livestock. It’s the same principle as someone who likes gardening their own food. It gives a satisfaction of accomplishment knowing where you food came from.

 

 

 

Cites

Henry, A. (2012, September 10). What Does Organic Really Mean, and Is It Worth My Money? Retrieved March 22, 2018. https://lifehacker.com/5941881/what-does-organic-really-mean-and-should-i-buy-it
Kinkead, Joyce A., et al. Farm: A Multimodal Reader. Rumor and Legend. 264. Fountainhead Press, 2014.

The People Who Spray

best-backpack-sprayer

Why do farmers treat their crops with pesticides? Because of pests and disease of course. Pests can eat, infect, or even kill a whole crop. This challenge to keep pests and disease away from the food we eat causes farmers to look for alternative ways to keep them at bay. Using pesticides are one of those ways. This benefits the farmers producing greater yield in production, while keeping labor costs down.

Farmers begin their season of growing crops in spring. The spring is the best because that’s when there is the maximum amount of water, and when crops and grasses grow the best. But this is also a good time for weeds to grow as well. This creates competition for the desired crop that wants to be harvested later in the year. To stop this competition, crops need to be sprayed with two common methods.

Backpack sprayers are used for small applications or areas that large tractors can’t maneuver through. They are put on a pack that goes on an individual’s back that has a wand to spray the desired areas. In large applications, the use of mechanical sprayers is highly effective. Hydraulic sprayers, which are used on the fields, consists of a tank, a pump, a lance or arm of nozzles that spray the pesticide. Both of these use a mixture of the pesticide and water to dilute the mixture so the application isn’t highly concentrated and kill the crop.

When it comes to spraying, there are two times that most farmers use on most crops. There is the pre-emergent and post-emergent spray of crops. Pre-spray attempts to reduce competitive pressure on newly germinated plants by removing undesirable organisms and maximizing the amount of water, soil nutrients, and sunlight available for the desired crop. Post-spray requires the use of specific chemicals chosen minimize harm to the crop. Some people use genetically modified crop species that are resistant to various pesticides that helps minimize harm.

So who are the people behind the use of pesticides? Most people that use pesticides are farmers who do large applications but some small time gardeners do it as well to help maintain the weeds to a minimum. In the farm applications, the people that apply the chemicals are migrant workers, farm owners, family members of the owner, or anybody that works on the farm can apply the treatments to the crop. But it is done mostly by the farmers themselves or family that is capable of operating the equipment to do so, this is because the machinery can be complicated to run. But there isn’t any education for operating the equipment, it takes time to understand how it operates.  Also, there are few that are willing to work labor for farmers due to low pay or no benefits. This causes a demand for laborers or migrant workers to work on the farms. With this demand, farmers have started using large farm equipment to help maximize the area covered while reducing time in the field and not having to pay workers wages. There can be a ton of physical limitations, if the equipment isn’t functioning then it must be fixed which can be not only time consuming but physically tiring as well.

sprayer

Aktar, M. W., Sengupta, D., & Chowdhury, A. (2009, March). Impact of pesticides use in agriculture: their benefits and hazards. Retrieved March 12, 2018, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2984095/

 

  1. (2017, July 10). Why Do We Spray? Retrieved March 12, 2018, from https://southsaskfarmer.com/2013/07/12/why-do-we-spray/

 

The Best Backpack Sprayers For The Money. (2017, October 17). Retrieved March 12, 2018, from https://www.epicgardening.com/best-backpack-sprayer/
Pest Control Courses. (n.d.). Retrieved March 12, 2018, from http://aa-plus.co.uk/courses/pest-control/

The Truth behind it All

In today’s world, it is very hard to tell the truth from the lies. We see this because people are trying to make money off a specific product, in doing so they are willing to lie to the general public about the safety of their product. The reason I say this is because Monsanto claims their product is completely safe. But research and people, with these health problems, are shedding  new light on the controversy.  

Monsanto clams that glyphosate is completely safe. They have even made a video to demonstrate that it is safe and all the countries that approve of the use of it. They claim that it only affects plant cells and breaks down in the soil into natural compounds found there. “Glyphosate specifically inhibits an enzyme that is essential to plant growth. This enzyme is not found in humans or animals. After it does its job, glyphosate breaks down in the soil into naturally occurring substances.”(Monsanto) Then they try to say that they are helping the planet because farmers are modifying certain crops, in turn they don’t have to till the soil and release less emissions. They also claim that it reduces topsoil erosion by not tilling the soil as much as well as help climate change. All of this can be found in the two videos below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=32&v=Ek7p5r6UNJU

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=79&v=wFeitMYO6nU

According to scientists at the National Cancer Institute, the active ingredient in Roundup does not cause cancer,. Researchers followed over 90,000 people who used pesticides to see if the ones who use Roundup developed any kind of cancer. There results follow: “ In this large, prospective cohort study, no association was apparent between glyphosate and any solid tumors or lymphoid malignancies overall, including NHL and its subtypes. There was some evidence of increased risk of AML among the highest exposed group that requires confirmation.”

Farmers have generally lower death rates than the average American, in part because their job requires more activity. However, the rates of some cancers are higher. “Farmers, farmworkers and farm family members may be exposed to substances such as pesticides, engine exhausts, solvents, dusts, animal viruses, fertilizers, fuels and specific microbes that may account for these elevated cancer rates,” (NCI) which can be the cause of these elevated rates.

A test was conducted to see if glyphosate is toxic to human placental cells. Results of the test concluded that glyphosate was harmful to the placental cells. And it was concluded that Roundup was more toxic than just glyphosate. “Glyphosate is toxic to human placental JEG3 cells within 18 hr with concentrations lower than those found with agricultural use, and this effect increases with concentration and time or in the presence of Roundup adjuvants. We conclude that endocrine and toxic effects of Roundup, not just glyphosate, can be observed in mammals. We suggest that the presence of Roundup adjuvants enhances glyphosate bioavailability and/or bioaccumulation.” (Andreotti, 2017) This is scary because this concludes that it’s possible that Roundup can definitely cause birth defects.

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Here is an ad that shows what people who want Roundup banned. They believe that if this continues, we will all be affected some way or another. This ad here is a little extreme, not everything will be dead, but it tries to relay the idea that it can be harmful.

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Here is another ad that shows the science side of what might be happening to us if glyphosate is really harmful to humans. The websites at the bottom of this ad provide “evidence” that GMOs like Roundup cause birth defects. Some are extreme defects and can’t be solely based on Roundup. Study of those people would have to be done to find more solid evidence that GMOs cause defects and mutations in the human body.

Stated earlier, it’s hard to tell what the truth is behind all of this. One side claims that it’s safe and decomposes into natural compounds already found in the soil. The other side claims that it causes birth defects and cancers through minor studies. In order for this controversy to be resolved, more testing needs to be done.

 

Cites

Glyphosate Herbicide. (n.d.). https://monsanto.com/company/media/statements/glyphosate-herbicide/

Andreotti, G., Koutros, S., Hofmann, J. N., Sandler, D. P., Lubin, J. H., Lynch, C. (2017, November 09). Glyphosate Use and Cancer Incidence in the Agricultural Health Study | JNCI: Journal of the National Cancer Institute | Oxford Academic. https://academic.oup.com/jnci/advance-article/doi/10.1093/jnci/djx233/4590280

Agricultural Health Study. (n.d.). http://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/ahs-fact-sheet

Richard, S., Moslemi, S., Sipahutar, H., Benachour, N., & Seralini, G. (2005, June). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1257596/

The History of Roundup

You might have heard in the news or online that there is a controversy with Roundup. That it causes pregnancy problems, autism, ADHD, and even cancer. But before we can figure that out, we need to know what it is and its history. So what is Roundup? Is it harmful?

Roundup was first introduced back in 1974 by Monsanto. Its intent is to kill weeds but not the crops. “Glyphosate is derived from an amino acid, glycine. It acts by suppressing an essential biochemical mechanism commonly found in plants, but not in animals. According to scientists, glyphosate is non-volatile, minimizing exposure through inhalation and undergoes little metabolism in the human body. If accidentally consumed, glyphosate is excreted mostly unchanged in feces and urine, so it doesn’t stay in the body and accumulate.”

How toxic is glyphosate? To examine toxicity, some scientific measures must be taken. For the sake of time we will not get into the math of it but we can use caffeine as an example because scientists have researched this. Caffeine is over ten times more toxic than glyphosate. Why? It would take 12,192 mg of caffeine to kill an average 140 lb human being. A typical 8 oz cup of coffee only contains only 95 mg of caffeine, much lower than the dose required for acute toxicity. The same reasoning applies to glyphosate. So with the same type of calculations, it would take 12.5 oz of glyphosate to kill an average 140 lb human being. That means you would have to drink three gallons of Roundup Original in order for it to kill you.

Why should we be worried? Glyphosate is the world’s most widely produced herbicide, by volume. It is used extensively in agriculture and is also found in garden products in many countries. This posses a problem because if people start eating trace amounts of it, it could possibly cause harm as it is absrobed in our digestive systems over time causing health problems across the globe.

In the nearly 20 years of intensifying exposure, scientists have been documenting the health consequences of Roundup in our food, in the water we drink. They have found that people who are sick have higher levels of glyphosate in their bodies than healthy people. They have also found the following health problems which they attribute to exposure to Roundup and/or glyphosate like autism, ADHD, cancer, birth defects, Inflammatory Bowl Disease, and many more.

There are definitely some concerns that have risen in the past 40 years about roundup and is it safe to consume trace amounts of it. Some say it is totally okay to consume it, while others blame it for health problems. More testing should be done to get to the bottom of this.

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Frequently asked questions. (n.d.). http://www.who.int/foodsafety/faq/en/

Is glyphosate (Roundup) dangerous? #GMOFAQ. (n.d.).  https://gmo.geneticliteracyproject.org/FAQ/is-glyphosate-roundup-dangerous/

The controversy of roundup

Hey ya’ll! I’m Dakota Jackman and I’m writing this blog to help everyone have a better connection to what they eat and the problems that can arise from the pesticides that are on our food. I am not much of a writer, but I hope to learn something new on this journey and I hope you do too. I am a wildlife major and do most of my work in the great outdoors.  I don’t have a personal connection to farming exactly.  But I do enjoy food (like everyone else!), and that food gives all of us a connection to farming.