Why I Don’t Buy Organic Food

Charlotte dentist Dr. Payet doesn't buy organic food

You might be wondering why I’m writing about where I go grocery shopping, right? Good question! The reason is simple: as part of my blogging, I see myself as an educator about science and medicine. As they become increasingly complex, it’s harder for the public to understand what’s important, what’s real, what’s junk, etc. Also, as a passionate believer in the value of science and the scientific method, I am saddened and worried by the misinformation and myths that abound, especially on social media. That’s why I write occasional articles current topics in science, medicine, and how they apply in our daily lives, just like I do about dentistry.

Science vs. Pseudoscience

I’ve already written several times about the difference between “real” medicine and “alternative” medicine, if you’d like to catch up a bit:

Science-not-fairy-tales-memeThe most important point that I try to make in all of these articles is that real science has to follow strict rules, whereas pseudoscience and alternative medicine can pretty much make up anything they like.  Sadly, we’re seeing a lot of the latter in current discussions about organic and GMO foods.

Food Choice is Great

Let’s get some important points out of the way up front:

  • I have nothing against organic foods, and if that’s what you choose for you, that’s great;
  • As a dentist, I can obviously afford the higher prices of organic food – I choose not to do so.
  • I have no tolerance for conspiracy theories.  If your primary argument against GMO foods is “Monsanto is evil,” you’ve already lost, because that’s just childish.

My Journey to Organic & Back

[Update 5/20/2016] The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine just released a 420-page report that fully vindicates GMOs as being safe for humans and animals alike, although they also indicate that GMOs have not completely lived up to the hype, so there is still room for improvement.   I am adding this as an update here so it can easily be found.  At the bottom of the article is a link where you can download the entire report as a PDF for free.

Growing up in the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s, there was no question of GMO vs. organic.  It was all just “food.”  But around 2011-2012, as social media such as FB, Twitter, etc. grew and messages spread rapidly, I began seeing anti-Monsanto memes, memes about glyphosate and Roundup, growth hormones and steroids and antibiotics, claims of organic foods being healthier, etc.  I absorbed a bit of the fear and started purchasing organic foods.  After moving to south Charlotte in 2013, suddenly Fresh Market was convenient, so I bought a lot more organic.  My wife wasn’t happy about the jump in our grocery bill, but I told her it was worth the benefits and we could afford it, so we should.  But really, it was all based on some vague, uninformed fears and no real information or science.  In retrospect, I’m embarrassed at my lack of critical thinking and blind acceptance.

By early 2014, however, I became suspicious of the rhetoric and claims being thrown around by supporters of organic foods, which prompted me to “do my research,” as the online saying goes.  What I ultimately found, however, was that the “superiority” claims made by organic supporters were overblown, while the “evil” stuff about Monsanto, GMOs, etc. were easily debunked as non-existent or bad science.  The harder I looked, the case for organic came down to “we don’t like yucky stuff and only want natural!”  And despite all the monstrous claims about how untested GMOs are, how they can “get into your genes,” how Monsanto is a demonic company (one of my own cousins made the statement that Monsanto is worse than the Nazis)….once the real science was examined, I found that GMOs are the most-tested and safest foods in history!  Not only that, I became increasingly aware of how “Big Organic” uses deception and misinformation to mislead the public.

As should be the case when anyone finds their own position thoroughly unsupported by evidence, I admitted that I was wrong and changed my mind.

An unexpected side benefit of this is how happy my wife is that our grocery bill has dropped quite a bit.  🙂

Expertise Actually Means Something

respect-scientists-knowledge

 

So what was the evidence that convinced me that organic was overhyped and exaggerated in both its safety and health benefits, and what was the evidence that convinced me that conventional and GMO foods are so safe? Let’s start with important ground rules:

 

 

  • Unless a claim is backed by research, it’s meaningless.  Why?  Because without research that can be examined and replicated by others, anyone can say absolutely anything.  Here’s more on Why Research Beats Anecdoteand here’s an article I wrote after reading a mind-stretching book, Review of “Thinking, Fast & Slow” by Daniel Kahneman that touches on the subject directly.
  • Unless the person making the claim is actually qualified to know what the heck they’re talking about, or unless their claims are supported by people who are so qualified, those claims are worthless.
    • Vani Hari, aka “Food Babe” is a perfect example: her degree is in Computer Science.  Tell me how much biology, chemistry, pharmacology, pharmacokinetics, biochemistry, nutrition, etc. she’s studied and been graded on?  She couldn’t even pass the 1st semester science classes in dental school; if she doesn’t even know as much as I do about science, why should I listen to her, especially when I can easily see that most of what she says is flat out wrong? (BTW – if you haven’t read the phenomenal takedown of the Food Babe in the Gawker article by SciBabe, you’re really missing out.)
    • Compare her with Professor Kevin Folta, a full-time faculty member who has published many studies, teaches the material, and knows it inside and out.  I would defer to his knowledge over my own every day because he knows it!
    • Sure, dentists study a lot of medical subjects, but if I have a heart problem, do I go to another dentist?  Of course not! I go to a cardiologist who actually knows what the heck he’s talking about.  I certainly don’t go to some unqualified person on the Internet who has a degree from Google University.
  • I have no patience with conspiracy theories because they never apply even their own lousy standards to their own arguments, which makes them (again) meaningless.  There is a very good reason why Understanding Logical Fallacies is crucial to meaningful discussion.
  • Single studies are worth very little.  Lots of studies turn out to be wrong or need their conclusions modified once more data is gathered.  Large numbers of high-quality studies are necessary to slowly sift the wheat from the chaff over a long period of time.

Common Myths About Organic Foods

Besides learning that the real science of GMO foods is unbelievably strong, what my research turned up was a number of myths, misconceptions, and outright lies about organic farming and foods.  And even worse, I realized that many of the pro “Big Organic” social media outlets are willing to lie and manipulate to frighten the public.  I know that’s what you get with Freedom of Speech, but when did it become OK to outright LIE?  I guess that goes back to the Big Tobacco fights, as has been well-documented in the Merchants of Doubt movie. But here are a few of the myths that turned me away from organic, as well as the Organic Marketing Report (click to download a full report)that is well worth reading.

Just today, while continuing my research, I found this article in the New Yorker, written in November of 2013, about why the CEO of Climate Corporation sold it to Monsanto, allegedly the “most evil company in the world.”  Why the Climate Corporation Sold Itself to Monsanto  It is a powerfully written, thoughtful, and excellent article, including an email from that CEO, David Friedberg, about how much work he put into making sure it was the right choice.

And just to make it crystal clear, here’s an article pointing out just how many pesticides are approved for organic farming with some details on how toxic they are: Pesticides Approved for Organic Farming

Reliable Resources for Scientific Information

As I mentioned in my article on water fluoridation, I regularly refer to this graphic to help understand the differences between good science and bad, which will help you understand why I recommend the following list of reputable resources about the safety of our food.

how-to-spot-bad-science-infographic

If you really want to dig into the science, here is a PDF of nearly 2,000 studies on GMO foods that demonstrate their safety: GMO-crops-safety-pub-list-1

 

 

 

 Want to Know About Food?  Talk to Farmers!

I don’t know why I’d never thought of it before, but doesn’t this make sense?  Well, at some point in 2014, I also began connecting with some farmers and farmers’ wives on FB who blog about farming and let me tell you, that really opened my eyes!  Let me share with you a few really helpful women who live and breathe farming every day and who regularly share what farming is really about.

Nurse-Loves-Farmer_logo

Sarah is a nurse who fell in love with and married a 4th generation farmer. They are raising their two boys on their acreage as well as farming 6300 acres of wheat, canola and yellow peas in the heart of Wheatland County, Alberta. Sarah has a passion for photography, cooking and baking and agriculture.  She also helps run the “Ask the Farmers” program, where you can ask any question about farming and get an answer from a real farmer or researcher.

Prairie_Californian_logo

Jenny is the Prairie Californian: Country girl at heart. Daughter of a butcher. Wife of a farmer. Self-proclaimed home cook. California born, she followed her heart and her dreams to North Dakota. Now she is cultivating a legacy of family, food, and farming on the rural prairies of North Dakota.

The_Farmers_Daughter_logo

 

Amanda is the proud daughter (and sister!) of conventional farmers in Southwest Michigan as well as a practicing attorney. For 26 years, her family ran and supplied a roadside market selling our own fresh fruits and vegetables. They now farm corn and soybeans.  Now her goal is to help educate consumers about conventional farming and give people a glimpse into how our food is raised and why certain production methods are used.

 

 

 

It’s amazing what you can learn when you talk to the people who actually know the stuff, and I find it hilariously sad when people who’ve clearly never done ANYTHING in farming start sounding off as if they’re experts.  Yeah, RIGHT.  Like I mentioned earlier, you wouldn’t go to a dentist to fix your computer network problems, or a network guy to ask about cardiac surgery, or a car mechanic to know about lab chemistry…but that’s what happens with people and their degrees from Google University.  Please….say no to nonsense and actually learn the facts from the people who know them.  Want to know about food?  Ask the people who grow it!

OK – I’m done!  Sound off in the comments – what do you think?  Bear in mind that any abusive or disrespectful comments will not be tolerated.  We can disagree politely.  🙂  And if you want to be taken seriously, please provide reputable evidence.  Anecdotes really don’t count.

Editorial Comment: over time, as I come across additional good articles or resources, I will be posting links here.

 

If this sounds like the kind of dental office you’d like,

Request an Appointment Online or call us at 704-364-7069.

We’ll look forward to meeting you soon!


By | 2017-06-09T20:29:32+00:00 April 12th, 2015|ANNOUNCEMENTS, Health & Food, Taking Care of Your Teeth|175 Comments

About the Author:

My profession and passion are one and the same: I’ve been a Charlotte dentist since 1999, and if you’re in need of a dental office, we’ll gladly welcome you. We offer most of the most modern technology available and a unique and broad combination of services. We know the dentist isn’t the most fun place to be, but we try to make it the best possible, and since I truly love my job, we aim to offer the best dental care possible.

  • Michael Mowgli

    Thanks for the article! Destroy the woo.

    • My pleasure, Michael – always love getting feedback on them. 😀

  • Paula

    Thank you for the post and for your willingness to put your own story out there. I’m a bit embarrassed when I think about how much I gave over to fear at one time of life, despite being college-educated and avid reader. It’s a comfort to know that it still can get people far smarter than I too 🙂 But it’s also awesome that the information is easily available for those willing to put the time to look for it!

    • Paula, I’m very sorry that I missed your post; Disqus doesn’t seem to automatically import to my WordPress Dashboard any longer, so I have to remember to check.

      Anyway, I do completely understand – the messages that Big Organic uses are insidious and “sound” so reasonable…..until you stop and dig into it, and it really takes some work. I can’t remember how long it took me, but I think I was “researching” this topic for 4-6 months before writing the article. I wanted to be really sure, you know?

      Glad you liked the article. 😀

  • Joan

    Thank you so much! As a nurse, I’ve gone with the science as well. I’ve recently been trying to explain to my daughter, also a nurse, why not buying organic is fine (though we’ll continue to buy local at our farmer’s markets – but I don’t insist they be organic certified). This is a super helpful explanation that I’m going to send to her right now.

    • Joan, you’re most welcome; I hope it’s helpful for in reassuring your daughter.

  • Mandy Davenport

    “I found that GMOs are the most-tested and safest foods in history” <——Where can I find the studies showing this?

    • Mandy, if you look in the article, I do provide a number of links to databases containing a fairly complete list of studies that have been done on GMO foods. Also, if you look at the “Additional Links” at the end, those articles continue a significant number of valuable links that will give you plenty of reading material on the 2,000+ studies that have been conducted on GMO crops.

      On the flip side, if you apply Bayes Theorem, it’s worth asking the question about organic crops: “Where are the studies showing that methods for creating new organic crops are safe?” Interestingly enough, I don’t believe there are any such studies on methods such as radiation mutagenesis, chemical mutagenesis, or even random cross-breeding. At the least, I have never heard of them. If there are, I would appreciate any links to continue learning.

  • CuriousDentalTroll

    Hey Chip, Good article. I support your conclusion. Several years ago I had a bout of gastroenteritis while riding my bike. NOT fun. Pretty funny story, but very ugly also. After several hours of bloody fluid loss, I ended up in the hospital pumped full of saline and antibiotics. Fast forward to 2 nights ago. I attended a lecture delivered by Mike Osterholm (renowned epidemiologist and pandemic scare mongerer :-)). Fantastic evening of learning, BTW. Dr. Osterholm does not eat organic produce for the following reason: The produce is “basically ripe” for bacterial contamination (e.g. salmonella, e. coli, and other enteric bacteria that can cause food-borne illness). I could go on and on about this, but if you want to add to your research (in regard to reasons why organic may not be “all that healthy”), I can send you some additional scientific references backing his point view in regard to potential food borne illness.

    • Sure, I’m always interested in learning more. 🙂

      • CuriousDentalTroll

        Hi again,

        Here is a discussion in regard to fecal contamination and organic food. Controversial subject for organic activists.. but the evidence seems to be showing: room for improvement (for organic growers) and innately more risk of fecal contamination for organically grown produce today. Safety standards could be improved. Interesting article here—> https://www.organicconsumers.org/old_articles/Organic/fecal-contamination.php

        • Makes you wonder if this is related to the most recent outbreak of E. coli at the Chipotle restaurants in the Pacific Northwest. I wonder how many more of those it will take before people realize that maybe organic farming practices are the problem, and not necessarily the solution.

          • CuriousDentalTroll

            I don’t think we can jump to any conclusions in this regard. I think the evidence shows that organic farming is not necessarily “the” problem in any regard…just need to be cognizant of potential problems and follow through with safety precautions. Local Farming is great imho… but not there is not as much oversight (in regard to safety practices). Funny incident in the supermaket the other day. One of the fellow “patrons” was looking at the salt free chicken stock and remarking on … Now here is one without salt and it costs more than the chicken stock with salt… So why are we paying MORE for LESS? ( as in ingredients). I laughed and said…Yup. I hear ya. 😀

            • Oh, I agree that it is much too early to draw such conclusions. I must admit to some genuine Schadenfreude, however, because Chipotle sure deserves whatever it gets after it’s dishonest “no-GMO” campaign and pledge.

              And yeah – that was a good point. Pay more and get less.” That’s organic in a nutshell, although it should be “pay more for the same.”

              • CuriousDentalTroll

                Hmm… unaware of the pledge. Thanks. Will have to look into that. Here is more coming out of MN. http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/news-perspective/2004/05/study-yields-mixed-findings-about-microbes-organic-produce

              • CuriousDentalTroll

                Hi Chip,

                Checked out the Chipotle GMO controversy. I can see it from Chipotle’s perspective. Their goal is to serve food that is, WITHIN REASON, GMO free. Before you judge them too harshly, please read this: http://adage.com/article/cmo-strategy/chipotle-fires-back-gmo-lawsuit/300172/
                What in your mind constitutes the level on non GMO that must be expected from a restaurant chain TRYING to serve safe, tasty food while REDUCING to a minimum the level of GMO “tainted” ingredients going into their foods….. while maintaining a profit? Personally I think the campaign against Chipotle (as being dishonest, opaque and deserving of a class action lawsuit from people that are hung up on GMOs is ridiculous). If people don’t want to eat the meat of any animal that has been fed genetically modified feed… then perhaps it is best they buy a few acres, grow their own food, raise their own cattle and research every single product they buy in order to maintain their self sufficient life-style. I bet one would be hard pressed to survive completely GM free these days, unless they cut themselves off completely form the world we live in today.

                • CuriousDentalTroll

                  Chipotle has now provided more information due to outrage from those that think that a non GMO statement is the same as claiming to be an “organic” restaurant. http://chipotle.com/GMO

  • First Officer

    A tour de force and a great reference article to boot. Many of the good links are here for easy pickings. Thanks for helping the fight against woo.

    • Thank you! I don’t have nearly as many supporting links in it as I initially wanted, because I tried hard to keep it readable and not turn it into a book. I’ve thought about a follow-up, but I do still have to write about dentistry since that’s my real gig. 🙂

  • Leah McGrath

    Thanks for being a #woofighter and taking a #stand4science

    • Leah, thank you so much for the kind words, and yes, I do my best to #stand4science. As you know from Twitter, it appears I’m about to be challenged by Jodi here, so any help will be appreciated. Hopefully it will remain civil and productive.

      • First Officer

        Run

  • rodnjill

    Charles, we only do it for entertainment, and don’t usually get as heavy as some of the great sites and pages you listed, but if you ever get bored check out Mr Farmers Neighborhood on FB

  • Katrin

    I think it’s interesting that the unbiased reports comparing organic to conventional farming (Scientific American, Washington Post) point out that when production rates are close to equal, which would be possible with more support of organic farming (and if GMOs would be accepted by organic farners, which I agree would be sensible) organic farming would be better for the environment, a fact you steadfastly refuse to acknowledge.

    • I’m sorry Katrin, where have I said that organic farming is not better for the environment?

      Also, can you please provide support for your statement that production costs would be equal if there were “more support” for organic?

      When talking about conventional vs. organic farming, please be as specific as possible about which aspects your mean: monoculture vs. multiple varieties; till vs. no-till; etc. Many aspects actually overlap between the 2, so it’s important to be specific.

      • Iida Ruishalme

        I thought I would mention that there are some significant problems with organic in regards to the environment. The environment used to be my main reason for buying organic before I started reading up on the science, and now environmental impacts are the biggest reason I avoid organic.

        This meta-analysis makes some important points on that regard: http://www.academia.edu/1907461/Does_organic_farming_reduce_environmental_impacts_-_A_meta-analysis_of_European_research

        Nitrogen leeching is significantly higher in organic systems, with more acidification potential, and another problem is more land use. I know of 3 meta-analyses highlighting the problem of lower yields in organic farming.

        I’ve written more about the topics here:
        http://thoughtscapism.com/2015/02/24/on-farming-animals-and-the-environment/
        http://thoughtscapism.com/2015/02/24/delving-deeper-into-the-roots-of-organic/

        You can read more about how nitrogen leaching is in fact a big problem, for instance.

        Another surprising little detail, which isn’t so little in the context of greenhouse gases, is the carbon footprint of compost. Composted manure is the fertilisation method in organic farming. Should that method be adopted on large scale, its methane emissions would become a considerable problem. Agricultural technology professional Steve Savage takes a well referenced look at composting issues, and provides a calculation of average emissions per acre:

        a mid-range [compost] use of 5 tons/acre would represent a carbon footprint of 10,833 pounds (CO2 equivalents). This is without including the fuel footprint of hauling the compost to the field and spreading it.

        To put this in context, he also provides a comparison of the above carbon footprint of the compost needed for that acre to many other examples, for instance:

        The complete carbon footprint of producing 5.7 acres of conventional corn (including fertilizer, crop protection chemicals, seed, fuel, nitrous oxide emissions from soil…)

        The carbon footprint of growing, handling and transporting 9,641 pounds of bananas from Costa Rica to Germany

    • Iida Ruishalme

      EDIT this was meant for the other comment further down, adding it there!

      Actually a focus on pesticides is a distraction from the really important ecological impacts of farming.

      “When you really dig into the research on the hierarchy of ecological impacts, pesticides represent a drop in the sustainability bucket when compared to land use, water use, pollution and greenhouse gases. In fact, it may seem counter-intuitive but, pesticides can play a substantial role in mitigating the damage associated with many of those other factors. Pesticides allow for us to grow more food on less land, limit the wasting of fuel and water, and help curb erosion and run-off. There is nothing sustainable about pouring inputs into growing food that is destroyed by pests.”

      http://fafdl.org/blog/2015/03/06/focus-on-pesticides-is-a-distraction-from-major-eco-impacts/

  • Katrin

    Yours is the flawed logic. All information is not created equal, which I believe is the point of your article. You write off differing, inconvenient opinions as “conspiracy theories,” which is blatsntly lazy and self serving. Look into why some pesticides are approved and others aren’t and you may be onto something. But I doubt that would interest you.

  • Katrin

    Organic isnt only about non-GMO. Organic foods are grown without the use of pesticides, which cause damage to our ecosystem.
    And the LAST people you should ask about the safety of a product are the informed producers of that product.

    • Katrin, you obviously didn’t read the Organic report that I included in my article, did you? Your statement that “organic foods are grown without the use of pesticides” is patently false – they simply use pesticides that are approved for organic farming, and many of those are not tested nearly as much as the synthetic ones.

      As for your statement that the “last people you should ask” about product safety are the ones who make it? That is assuming that they are all lying and that all fo the regulatory agencies responsible for overseeing and testing them are also lying. Sorry – I don’t buy into conspiracy theories for the very simple reason that all of the products are publicy available and can be (and have been) extensively tested by independent universities and government organizations. Therefore, I am not relying solely on them.

      Sorry, but your logic is severely flawed and is based on inaccurate information.

    • Alison

      Hi Katrin, I wrote the article that Charles just shared in his response.

      I want to reiterate that the idea that organic farming does not use pesticides is a myth that the organic industry has spend a lot of time and money promoting. There is an extensive list of substances approved for use in organic farming that include many pesticides. The distinction of whether a substance is derived from nature or made is lab is utterly meaningless from a toxicolgocial perspective. There are links to many resources about this in the article that Charles linked to.

      Second, the testing is done by many groups. Some is done by the company (it’s bad business to sell a product that poisons your customer base) but most is done by publicly funded labs studying the toxicity of pesticides. All the research, regardless of the source, is assessed and analyzed by the EPA to determine if the pesticide should be approved and what the safety regulations surrounding us of that product should be. Again, this is all described in by article.

      Please let me know if you have further questions after your read the article!

      • Katrin

        Unsubscribe! For the fourth time!!

        • Alison

          I don’t think that’s how the internet works. It’s disturbing that your reaction to information that contradicts your opinion is to unsubscribe instead of engaging in a discussion and trying to learn.

          • Katrin

            You are very funny.

          • Ilana L

            Alison I think you have very little knowledge of how organic farmers work, and the philosophy behind organic farming by your flip statements. You fail to see both sides adequately and sorry, Katrin is right.
            She may not want to continue to debate with someone like yourself, so closed to the truth. It is a waste of her precious time.

            • Alison

              May I ask what “flip statements” you are referring to? If it was the unsubscribe comment, it was because I received repeated messages from Katrin asking me to unsubscribe because she seemed to be upset that someone disagreed with her on the internet – she is the one closed to the “truth”, although I would say closed to “evidence”.It’s not my blog and I have no control over notifications – hence my comment about the internet. You have to go to the setting for Disqus to unsubscribe. As to your second point, I never mentioned farmers. I wrote about the federal regulations for the National Organic Program and certification processes for the NOP Organic label. I also wrote about how toxicology is done. This has very little to do with farmers. Do you have information or a citation for anything that contradicts what I said? All of this info is from the website for the National Organic Program and the tox info is from my own experiences in the toxicology field. If you think I’m not seeing another side, I would love to hear what you actually have to say instead of just vague accusations.

        • I’m sorry to hear that you’re unwilling to continue the conversation based on quality science and open discussion of sources, If you don’t have references that can be listed and discussed, or if you’re unwilling/unable to discuss references that we provide, then you’re right, there isn’t much left to discuss. Here’s one more recent article (not a research article, but one that is very well-sourced and that provides extensive additional links for reading further.
          http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2015/07/are_gmos_safe_yes_the_case_against_them_is_full_of_fraud_lies_and_errors.html?wpsrc=sh_all_dt_tw_top

    • Iida Ruishalme

      Actually a focus on pesticides is a distraction from the really important ecological impacts of farming. Marc Brazeau writes about this in his piece over at Food and Farm Discussion Lab. There’s a new review that he goes over that looks at major impacts of farming and their mitigation.

      “When you really dig into the research on the hierarchy of ecological impacts, pesticides represent a drop in the sustainability bucket when compared to land use, water use, pollution and greenhouse gases. In fact, it may seem counter-intuitive but, pesticides can play a substantial role in mitigating the damage associated with many of those other factors. Pesticides allow for us to grow more food on less land, limit the wasting of fuel and water, and help curb erosion and run-off. There is nothing sustainable about pouring inputs into growing food that is destroyed by pests.”

      http://fafdl.org/blog/2015/03/06/focus-on-pesticides-is-a-distraction-from-major-eco-impacts/

      • Iida – thank you for the link – really interesting reading. A good reminder that we should always be thinking, “Are there other questions we also need to ask to be sure we’re getting the whole story?” Pesticides and herbicides are indeed just one small part.

        I’ve seen several recent articles about farmers switching to organic and realizing that they are actually INCREASING their carbon footprints for various reasons; will have to see if I can find them to post. So if organic farming increases the carbon footprint, what’s the tradeoff worth?

      • CuriousDentalTroll

        Agreed!!!

    • CuriousDentalTroll

      Dig deeper Katrin, there is more to this “pesticide story.” 🙂 http://discovermagazine.com/2007/nov/can-a-maligned-pesticide-save-lives/

  • chrisbr1111

    You do understand that Monsanto, a chemical manufacturer, genetically modifies seeds so that the plant will survive being doused with their very own Roundup, or do you not? Everything Roundup touches, with the exception of these seeds, dies. Nothing else will ever grow in that soil again… then you eat it. Now, I hit the ceiling in the area of logic on a standard IQ test. You can Google what that indicates. I can tell you with utmost certainty, that knowingly ingesting food sprayed with Roundup can only stem from an illogical thought process. You go right ahead and eat it, all I can do is shake my head. However, using your position to stump for the Monsanto, is beyond unethical.

    • First of all, perhaps you should spend some time on Google learning how little standardized IQ tests really mean about anything. I’m not impressed. Logic requires a lot of training, and given that your very first statement contains two false premises (farmers do not “douse” their crops with Roundup and “nothing” will grow in that soil again), your credibility as one who is skilled in logical argument is already shot to pieces.

      Also, to state that I am “stumping” for Monsanto is essentially calling me a “shill,” which is another automatic logical FAIL. Nowhere in my article do I state that I am specifically “pro-Monsanto.” Not only that, because you have committed yet another logical fallacy “argumentum ad Monsantum” you have again demonstrated your lack of logic.

      You lose. If you’re going to try again, please try to do at least a little better.

    • Ilana L

      Thanks chrisbr1111
      I was beginning to think that most of the posters here were depressingly high on Roundup soaked GMO foods – like a bunch of crazies tripping on LSD. I eat homegrown veggies, organic and steer clear from the supermarket as much as possible.
      Now I know this is not ‘scientific’ and anecdotal but…
      I made a pumpkin soup the other day from home grown veggies. I had some leftover soup from some supermarket vegs. Almost the same veggies except one lot were home grown and with manure (Oh shame, I know) and yeah I cleaned the bugs of the ‘organic veggies’ but it was worth the troouble. The soup was great tasting and I did not have the runs or cramps which I have had when using a lot of supermarket veggies.
      Conclusion: I prefer to go with my gut feeling about GMO and mass produced veggies and all the scientific huha in the world does not make me believe that GMO is the way to go or synthetic pesticides. I think there are a lot of things we are doing wrong.
      Look at the kids and do not tell me that the rise in autism is because ‘they are better at diagnosing these sorts of conditions now’ BS. So years ago when autism was diagnosed at 1 in 5,000 (1970’s) to the estimated 1 in 80 predicted in Australian schools before 2020; what does that tell you? It tells you that there is a pandemic happening here that is putting pressure on the educational system, the social system and it will impact society as a whole in a variety of ways as these ‘Autistic generations’ grow up and mature into adulthood.
      I have been given no clear answers and nor has anyone else. Those supportive of GMO crops rush to defend their use and refuse to entertain the idea that organic – true organic produce – may be a path in the right direction.
      The trouble with diet induced conditions – they may be having an impact over the generations; what your grandmother ate affected your mother’s health along with what she ate and how she lived affects you and your future children ultimately.
      I love the way these scientists all bow and scrape to the great gods of scientific endeavour and are so blinded by the ‘white light of cold hard scientific research’ and they spend so much time debunking anything that is not western science they are literally blind sided and parochial in their thinking. They fail to see the full picture. They will ignore any health benefits of centuries old herbal remedies and also the chinese practice of acupuncture. When science has been found to investigate remedies used in herbs and food choices for certain medical conditions, the results have been astonishing. However when they replicate or make synthetic substitutes which are effective in the short term, but have some interesting and nasty side effects over long term use for conditions, it leads me to wonder.
      I am an advocate for organic and as natural foods as possible. I would like to see everyone having a garden in their backyard. I would like to see people growing fresh herbs for cooking and teas.
      I make no secret of the fact that I do not like mass produced and factory farming methods which I believe is about quantity and not quality. I am an advocate of a healthy lifestyle, because I do go with my gut and not with the additive/preservative/ flavouring/sweetener laden synthetically produced foods of today. I go for home cooked rather than take out from a commercial outlet. I am an advocate of a lifestyle choice that is at odds with this modern world of science and yet I love technology. Do not get me wrong. I think progress is great, but we need to be careful in our choices. I am a solar energy person and not nuclear and there in lies the difference, if you understand where I come from.

  • Iida Ruishalme

    Really enjoyed your piece and it’s refreshing voice of reason. Thanks for the shout out to Thoughtscapism!

    • Your most welcome Lida, and I feel the same way about your blog. It’s wonderful developing a network of like-minded people to promote good science and critical thinking in the face of all the nonsense out there.

  • The single most important reason not to buy organic food is because there is no field testing in the organic industry. There’s no testing to ensure manure is fully composted, and no testing to ensure prohibited pesticides are being excluded. And this results in a whopping 43% of all organic food testing positive for prohibited pesticides.

    • 2 points:
      1) Are they safe or unsafe levels? As long as they’re safe levels, I still don’t really care.
      2) That still leaves a majority of 57% that tested negative.

      • Spray dissipates rapidly over distance and over time. As such, any level of pesticide residue in a post-harvest sample is a likely indication of fraud. You can be an optimist if you like, but there is no allowable threshold level for anabolic steroids at the Olympics, now is there?

        Yes, spray drift COULD contaminate an organic crop. This is why the USDA National Organic Program stipulates a threshold tolerance level for prohibited pesticide residue. But the CBC felt very comfortable charging that fraud was in play because the samples in question were all taken off the store shelf, allowing ample time for complete dissipation.

        Meanwhile, I have tested organic crops and never found ANY pesticide residue. And this, again, shows how unlikely spray drift is as the culprit.

  • Psuedo Science is often follow by more appealing information. Hard to beat that unfortunately.

  • Bradley Stoll

    Hi, Dr. Payet. I’m not going to argue for or against GMO’s, but my personal opinion is that eating “naturally” is always better than eating processed. As you eluded to, just saying something is so doesn’t make it so; science, or scientific studies, to back up your claim are nice. Do you feel that this might contradict Eastern Medicine? Also, what are your thoughts on http://www.responsibletechnology.org/10-Reasons-to-Avoid-GMOs. In the end, I would bet that anyone can find any study to support their own claims, or what they believe in. Isn’t that pretty much what statisticians do? And then, as we know, many doing research unethically falsify their own data. Anyway, those are just my thoughts.

    • Hi Bradley, I think we need to talk a bit about definitions before getting into details. When you say “eating naturally,” what does that mean? And when you say “Eastern Medicine,” what does that mean? Those can be very big, broad terms. Some of it I might agree with, other parts not, so if we can get a little more exact, then we can talk.

      As for “lies, damn lies, and statistics,” this is why it is important to consider the greater scientific consensus rather than any individual studies. The stronger the consensus, based on a larger number of total studies, is generally more trustworthy because of a couple things:
      1) The more studies by more people over more time – the more difficult it gets to hide anomalies or fraud. IOW – it’s not too hard to skew the results of a few small studies over a few years, but it IS actually very hard to skew the results of hundreds of studies covering large numbers over a longer time. At some point, either you have to believe that EVERYONE is lying with whom you don’t agree, or you have to acknowledge that that’s pretty unlikely, and then you reach a point where you have to admit that they’re probably right and you’re wrong.

      And to be realistic on the answer to your question about statisticians – NO, that is NOT what they do. Ethical statisticians follow very strict guidelines and understand what kind of analysis is best for what kind of study that will give the most accurate result. They will also tell you the margin of error.

      If you don’t believe me – go learn statistics and biostatistics indepth. Seriously. Because the only nice way for me to say it is that you’re wrong.

      Just to give you a quick note on Eastern Medicine though: no, I generally don’t “believe” in it. Why? Because hundreds and thousands of studies have been done on many different forms of Eastern Medicine and found it to be no better than placebo.

      • CuriousDentalTroll

        Chip,
        Fraud is not the norm. It does occur, yes. There are some “bad” apples (those more focused on greed than bioethics). The whole vaccine “controversy” came about due to unethical practice and greed. The AMA is trying hard to rectify the messages sent to the public due to one less than ethical source… that got through peer review and caused the scientific community to question vaccine safety. …It’s a long story…but the safety concerns were created by a party that was out to push their own agenda first and foremost. Some people believe this is ALWAYS the case..the public can’t trust any research. Not true. You are on the right track Chip. JMHO.

    • CuriousDentalTroll

      Bradley,

      That is not what statisticians represent or do. I’m sorry that your belief system is flawed in regard to professionals working outside of your “profession.” 🙁

  • Tiny Hands

    Thank you for taking the time to write this all out so plainly. Good stuff!

  • Heather Vanderweide

    Great read, and additional thanks for the link to the organic farming myth busting article – also a great read.

  • Kelly Story Marshall

    Well done! As a farm blogger myself (www.daddystractor.com) I completely agree. And I love that you’ve taken on those with a beef against Monsanto. “You’ve already lost.” Exactly!

  • Michela Dai Zovi

    GMOs are safe. But Monsanto has been sued on multiple occasions for dumping PCBs into local water supplies and hiding their knowledge of the toxicity from the public. If I want to vote with my dollars by giving my money to someone other than Monsanto, what’s wrong with that? Pulling up the dumbest hippy you can find and letting him prattle on about “frankenfoods,” then acting like his argument applies to any move in favor of eschewing environmentally detrimental practices is uncharitable and disingenuous. It’s a straw man fallacy.

    • Warren Lauzon

      The Monsanto of PCB fame is not the same company, except in name. When they divested a bunch of stuff and split up they probably should have changed the name, but so be it.

      • Michela Dai Zovi

        That was not known to me. Interesting.

    • Michela, can you provide some references on those lawsuits? Monsanto, as a company, has been through several “versions” through buyouts, breakups, etc., so it would be important to know when that happened.

  • So happy to see you reaching out to your readers in this fashion! The world needs more than just farmers and scientists to speak out about critical thinking and the safety of our food supply. I will be sharing this. Keep up the good work!

  • HorschEL_Jefe

    Very good! I enjoyed this as well as following your links. In addition to the farmers you’ve listed, track down the Peterson Farm Bros on Facbook, as well as on their blog. Their YouTube channel is equally amazing and entertaining.

    • I already did, thanks to them commenting on one of the FB shares. I haven’t had time to check their YouTube channel yet, but it sounds wonderful.

  • Dan Livermore

    You articulated my own views on this, both content and tone. Like you, I was made suspicious by the inflammatory rhetoric often deployed by the anti-GMO bunch, and like you, I learned (and continue to learn) so much from biochemists, farmers, etc. Thanks for this post…will share.

  • Red

    Thanks for presenting some facts! I find it disturbing that some corporations, like Chipotle, thrive and profit from spreading fallacies and fear to masses of people who are all too ready to embrace the misinformation.
    As a 4th generation farmer, I appreciate your deference to those of us who live the life and take pride in producing the safe food that this country has been enjoying for several hundred years.

    • Red, as I mentioned in the article, I still wonder what took me so long to think about going right to farmers, “straight from the horse’s mouth,” to find out their thoughts. After all, farmers have to be aware of all this stuff for their own safety, their families and employees, their businesses, etc. so it’s not like you’re going to go around deliberately trying to grow stuff that will “poison” everyone. That’s the same conspiratorial mindset that says dentists are willing to poison the public with mercury, even though we use it for our own families. Why are people so willing to believe that huge groups of people would do horrible things to everyone else? So when I started reading farmers’ blogs and FB pages, it really opened my eyes and made me feel so much better about everything.

  • Tunzala Eynula

    I fount this article very interesting. Thank you for sharing.

    1. “I found that GMOs are the most-tested” I agree with this part

    2. “and safest foods in history! Respectfully disagree. I don’t want to put any chemicals into my body. I did batch 3-4,000 gallons of conventional products. You should wear a mask to make a product. Some ingredients are toxic, you can’t breath! And also as you mentioned before, the scientists tested and proved that certain ingredients are causing a serious health problem.

    3. “Not
    only that, I became increasingly aware of how “Big Organic”
    uses deception and misinformation to mislead the public.” So true. The word organic is very strong and there are many speculations around this word. If you want to use “organic” word for your product, you should pay N amount of money EVERY year for the certification. This is a business. As an owner of a small business I can’t afford to buy this certificate and I don’t want to buy it as well. I know exactly what I am doing. Sometimes I am afraid to say that “Big Organic” here to make a big business. If they really care about people, why can’t they give this certificate for free or for much cheaper price?

    4. “Want to know about food? Ask the people who grow it!” Buying from farmers is the best shopping, in my opinion.

    Thanks again for sharing your thoughts. Regards.

  • morelambchops

    Yes yes and yes! This is brilliant and so spot on. Our family has been farming for 159 years. If today’s methods were doing more harm than good, we wouldn’t adopt these methods…. Such as GMOs or Monsanto products. Truthfully, as farmers, there are hundreds of seed companies to choose from…but yknow what? Sometimes Monsanto makes good products, and that’s why we buy them. They know what they’re doing. Today’s methods are by far the safest. No one ever complained back in the 70’s when far more toxic chemicals were applied as pesticides. Now the organic stamp shows up and all of a sudden everything we do is awful? I don’t think so…. Organic still uses pesticides and some are more toxic than roundup….but they don’t tell you about that, do they? The organic marketing report that you linked above is a must read for everyone. Again, I don’t have a problem with organic farming methods whatsoever but I do have a problem with their ugly marketing and downright lying to consumers. Thanks for sharing this. If more people talked to us, as growers and industry experts, and not believed everything they read on the internet, the world would be a much more peaceful place. 🙂

    • Hopefully, this article will inspire more people to see you out to learn the truth then. 🙂 Feel free to post a link to your website or FB page if you’d like so they can connect with you.

  • NY Farmer

    To me, the most convincing argument for choosing organic vs. conventional produce is the risk of pesticide poisoning. Not at the consumer level due to residues, but for farmworkers. The Center for Disease Control estimates that “10,000-20,000 physician-diagnosed pesticide poisonings occur each year among the approximately 2 million U.S. agricultural workers.” (http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/pesticides/). Other estimates are far, far higher, given that most cases are not reported or diagnosed by a physician. Workers on organic farms have a tiny fraction of the risk of pesticide poisoning compared to workers on conventional farms (the most toxic pesticides are not approved for use on organic farms, and even organically-approved pesticides can only be used as a last resort on organic farms).
    Dr. Payet, back when you were buying organic produce, you were actively protecting the health of the farmworkers who produced your food; buying conventional produce means complicity in putting farmworkers at greater risk of pesticide poisoning. I think that if you looked those farmworkers in the eye, you would choose to give them the same good care that you provide to your patients.

    • morelambchops

      Pesticide poisoning? Sounds fishy…. We’re a family full of farmers, certified crop advisors, and certified commercial pesticide applicators. We are all also very healthy.

      • NY Farmer

        Fishy? So, is your theory that there is a vast conspiracy of medical doctors mis-diagnosing tens of thousands of cases a year? I am guessing that your experience is not as a field worker in fruit and vegetable production. These poisonings usually aren’t happening to the guy sitting in the air-conditioned cab of the tractor applying sprays to row crops, these are happening to field workers.

      • Not only that, I have been on a farm my entire life and spent my life working in the Agriculture industry. I have never known anyone that suffered from pesticide poisoning. My grandpa used to stir the drums of crop spray with his bare arm to mix it up. Anecdotal evidence I know but it makes me wonder about the figure of 2 million poisonings a year, considering in 2010 only 1,212,000.00 workers were employed in agriculture. Your link would not work for me so I couldn’t verify your claim. So yes, ‘fishy’ seems a reasonable term.

        • NY Farmer

          If only everyone were as lucky as you and your grandpa. I don’t think a farm worker hospitalized for pesticide poisoning would be cheered up by your anecdote.

          You say you “wonder” about the statistic, it is from an independent government agency without any axe to grind, so no need to wonder too much. http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/pesticides/

          As for your thoughts on GMO’s, I didn’t mention those in my original comment and I hesitate to go there. But it is worth considering that the trajectory of herbicide-resistant corn has been that now you need to spray two herbicides (Roundup and 2-4-D) instead of just one (Roundup) because weeds have developed resistance. There is every reason to believe that this trend will continue. Unfortunately there is a similar trend with the BT trait in GMO corn, as western corn rootworm has now developed resistance http://www.pnas.org/content/111/14/5141

          • So your arguments in a nutshell are; you shouldn’t buy a product if there is a chance of workers getting hurt while producing the product (are you saying I should check out safety standards in the factories before I purchase a car)? and; ‘we should never use a solution (that works) because someday it may not work and we might have to try something else’. Got it.

            • NY Farmer

              I didn’t say what you should do, I just explained why I choose to run my farm using organic practices, and why I choose to buy organic food much of the time (in response to the original post, in which Dr. Payet explained why he chooses not to). Worker safety is definitely one motivating factor for me, among many.

              Regarding GMO’s, I’m not judging them one way or the other, I’m just pointing out that it’s not as clear cut as you said, i.e. Bt corn doesn’t “remove the need to spray the crop” as you claimed.

              • RobertWager

                Do you use rotenone or pyrethrum? Perhaps you might look up the EIQ of these organic pesticides.

                True Bt crops still require some spraying depending on the geographic location but there is zero debate on the HUGE drop in broad spectrum insecticide use because of Bt crops.

                • NY Farmer

                  As I mentioned in another comment, there are no approved formulations of Rotenone (which is pretty toxic) for organic farmers in the U.S. That means no organic farmers in the U.S. can use Rotenone, period, even though it’s technically a “natural” pesticide. Because it’s quite toxic. Makes sense to me.

                  Pyrethrins/pyrethroids are insecticides used in both organic and conventional agriculture. The organic formulation is derived from chrysanthymum extract. Conventional growers use a synthetic version of the same thing. They are considered of low toxicity to humans (EPA Category III or IV), but are very toxic to aquatic life and bees. In organic farming, there is a requirement that farmers only use this product only as a last resort after other preventative measures have been taken. If it is used, organic farmers are required to avoid spraying when bees may be active (on my farm if we use this product, we spray at dusk after bees have left the fields).

                  The main difference between organic pyrethrins and synthietic pyrethroids is that pyrethrins break down very quickly in sunlight, which greatly reduces the risk to bees and aquatic life. Synthetic pyrethroids were engineered specifically NOT to break down in sunlight, so they would stick around longer on crops and kill more bugs. Unfortunately, this means they also kill more bees.

                  To me, this is a good example of an organic version of a pesticide that is safer for the environment than the synthetic version.

                  • RobertWager

                    The use of rotenone was only recently prohibited in the US. Many countries still use it.

                    The organic versions of pyrethrum are a collection of over a dozen bio-active compounds and some of the break down products of some of these “natural” pesticides are even more toxic. The use of synthetic pyrethroids is at a level far lower than the use of natural pyrethrum according to California State data where most of the organic food is grown in the US.

                    Forgive me if I am unimpressed with what organic farmers are supposed to do. Recent tests are showing 30-45% of organic produce tested have synthetic pesticide levels equivalent to those found in conventionally grown produce. A great deal of cheating is definitely going on in the industry. Have you read ‘Is it Organic”? Perhaps you should. Please explain why an organic farmer should have 48 hours advanced notice before their farm is to be inspected? Who does that benefit? Why is there zero in field testing ever for organic farms?

                    Hmm correct me if I am wrong but isn’t glyphosate a class III compound? Context is important in this discussion of categories of pesticides.

                    • NY Farmer

                      I will go one by one. On Rotenone:

                      From University of Wisconsin Ag School: “After implementation of the National Organic Program (NOP) in 2002, no rotenone formulations registered by EPA were ever deemed in compliance with the National Organic Program. No products that contained rotenone as an active ingredient were ever listed as allowed for use on organic farms by the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI).” source http://csanr.wsu.edu/program-areas/m2m/research-areas/pesticide-use/rotenone-use-in-organic-farming/ (before 2002 organic standards varied from certifier to certifier, since the National Organic Program was not yet established).

                    • RobertWager

                      Rotenone is a potent botanical pesticide that has become a source of mounting concern because of its toxicity and potential environmental impact. There is significant confusion concerning whether and how this material may be used in USDA-certified organic farming.

                      Although the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) Generic Materials List identifies rotenone as “Allowed with Restrictions” on organic farms, the material is only legally allowed under certain conditions. Other substances commonly used with rotenone, including piperonyl butoxide, are explicitly prohibited for use in organic agriculture. The National Organic Program (NOP) is currently exploring possible changes to the regulations, potentially limiting or prohibiting the use of rotenone. http://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/rotenone-organic-zb0z1405zsto.aspx

                      http://www.beyondpesticides.org/infoservices/pesticidefactsheets/toxic/rotenone.php

                      http://www.colostate.edu/Dept/CoopExt/4DMG/VegFruit/organic.htm

                      Would you like to discuss nicotine sulfate while we are at it. You know the synthetic version as neonics

                    • NY Farmer

                      I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: can you please cite any single formulation of a Rotenone product that is approved for use in organic agriculture on farms in the U.S.? None are.

                      Nicotine Sulfate? A “natural” product that is banned in organic farming because it is toxic. http://npic.orst.edu/ingred/organic.html

                    • RobertWager

                      And I believe I said the restriction is relatively new.

                    • NY Farmer

                      I’m not sure what that has to do with anything. You criticizing a product that is currently banned in organic farming would be like me criticizing Lead Arsenate or DDT, toxic products which were once approved for conventional farming but aren’t anymore.

                    • hyperzombie

                      DDt wasn’t banned because it was deadly to people, it was banned because it was persistent, just like Copper sulfate.

                    • Ilana L

                      Most of you can write scientific articles well but tend to miss the main point of the articles giving an opposing viewpoint.

                      http://www.geneticliteracyproject.org/2015/01/05/will-my-child-be-born-autistic-if-i-eat-gmos-a-scientists-view/

                      Where she conveniently ignores this:

                      At a conference last Thursday, in a special panel discussion about GMOs, she took the audience by surprise when she declared, “At today’s rate, by 2025, one in two children will be autistic.” She noted that the side effects of autism closely mimic those of glyphosate toxicity, and presented data showing a remarkably consistent correlation between the use of Roundup on crops (and the creation of Roundup-ready GMO crop seeds) with rising rates of autism. Children with autism have biomarkers indicative of excessive glyphosate, including zinc and iron deficiency, low serum sulfate, seizures, and mitochondrial disorder.

                    • hyperzombie

                      Llana, “she took the audience by surprise when she declared, “At today’s rate, by 2025, one in two children will be autistic”

                      Think about this for a second.. Do you really think that by 2050 125% of kids will be autistic?

                      Autism is most likely genetic, it is not caused by environmental toxins or vaccines.

                      “Children with autism have biomarkers indicative of excessive glyphosate, including zinc and iron deficiency, low serum sulfate, seizures, and mitochondrial disorder.”

                      Excessive Glyphosate does not cause any of symptoms, at high doses it causes heart murmurs and diarrhea. To the human body glyphosate is just a salt, it goes right through the human body.

                    • Ilana L

                      The rate in Australian Schools is now around 1 in a 100 so it has increased at an alarming rate. Hyperzombie who taught you maths. 1 in two children by 2025 will be 50%. And she gave no indication of the rate for 2050. 125% is a bit laughable. Percentages in this case should be worked out on 100% and yes, if we continue down the path we are going, there will be more birth defects.
                      Very little is known publicly of the impact of plutonium enriched warheads on the population in Iraq as a result of the wars there and probably also of the gassings in Syria. Often with home births, such children are ‘destroyed quietly’. I think there is a lot out there that we do not know and I for one, want to reserve judgement on GMO and keep it and pesticides out of my diet.
                      If I had my way, everyone would have a little back yard garden and do trades in veggies and fruit with others and grow naturally. A few bugs and insects are healthy and shows the plants must be good. You can pick them out of the food or soak them and wash well. With crops with no bugs, (you may laugh at this) if there are no insects, I think they may be onto something and how come we are giving this sort of food to our fellow humans?

                    • hyperzombie

                      “Hyperzombie who taught you maths.”

                      Who taught you math? If the rate is 1 in 100 or 1% now to get to 50% in 10 years would mean a 50 fold increase, I predicted it would be 2.125 times higher in 25 years, now which one is laughable?

                      “if we continue down the path we are going, there will be more birth defects.”

                      Do you have any evidence that there are more birth defects now than lets say 25 years ago?

                      “plutonium enriched warheads”

                      Ummm, I think you mean depleted uranium rounds, not plutonium enriched warheads which would be nuke weapons.

                      “pesticides out of my diet.”

                      How can you do that when 99.999% of all the pesticides that you consume come naturally from the food that you eat.

                      “If I had my way, everyone would have a little back yard garden and do trades in veggies and fruit with others and grow naturally.”

                      Why, most people don’t want a garden and have far better things to do, I would prefer that my surgeon was not sleepy because he had to weed the garden all night.

                    • Ilana L

                      Sorry Hyperzombie

                      you are right on the fact that I was talking about uranium depleted warheads and not nuclear. I can have a good laugh t myself as it was early in the morning and the brain was not in gear. Plutonium enriched – yep I can laugh at myself but I do not pretend to be a nuclear scientist or even a math-head.

                      If she says 1 in 2 that by my maths is 50%. Or 50 out of every 100 students.

                      Yes there are more children born with learning difficulties and disabilities which is putting a strain on the health systems in the USA, UK , Australia and Europe. We have had Chernobyl which was in April 1986. A friend of mine’s husband was on the clean up crews and the official record states only 40 people died as a result of Chernobyl, but the truth is far more sinister. Same with Fukushima – the official story is no one dead as a result of the reactor. There were 60 men who literally committed suicide to save the rest of the population of the area. These men went in and worked around the clock. Most if not all were dead within weeks. They are not counted as dead from the radiation leaking.

                      There are wards in Russia filled with damaged kids and I would hazard a guess the same is probably true in Japan. I will fill you in with some articles. Also spike in the birth deaths and defects on the USA west coast.

                      http://www.nature.com/scitable/topicpage/birth-defects-causes-and-statistics-863

                      http://radiationdebate.com/forum/fukushima-radiation/800-increase-in-birth-defects

                      http://www.naturalnews.com/045904_radiation_exposure_birth_defects_Fukushima.html

                      http://www.marchofdimes.org/materials/global-report-on-birth-defects-the-hidden-toll-of-dying-and-disabled-children-wall-chart.pdf
                      And an extract from this article:
                      http://enenews.com/radiation-expert-horrific-health-toll-fukushima-nuclear-disaster-infant-death-significantly-increased-many-areas-japan-government-actions-unconscionable-impossible-be-moved-scale-deaths-human

                      States:

                      Alfred Korblein, MD, former Sr. Scientist at Munich Environmental Institute & Univ. of Bremen professor, Nov 2014: … infant mortality in 7 prefectures near Fukushima is significantly increased in 2012… with a maximum in May… [My Feb 2014 study] compared infant mortality rates in… the prefectures Fukushima, Iwate, Miyagi, Gunma, Tochigi, Ibaraki and Chiba, with the rates in the rest of Japan… A significant 25% increase was found in the first 9 months of 2012… There is a highly significant 91% increase of infant mortality in March 2011… likely an immediate effect of the earthquake and tsunami.

                      Environment does have an impact on our genes and essential health.

                    • hyperzombie

                      Yep Organic farmers would never use banned organic pesticides, they just use conventional ones. Over 40% of Organic crops test positive for banned pesticides. conventional crops are 40% pesticide free.

                    • hyperzombie

                      all Natural Pesticides banned from Organic Farming because they are deadly. This will make a great headline.

                    • RobertWager

                      From your own citation:

                      The EPA began the process of cancelling all registered food uses of
                      rotenone in the U.S. shortly after the 2007 RED. The final notification
                      was published July 28, 2010 [75 FR 44256]. The product cancellation
                      order became effective on March 23, 2011 [76 FR 16415]. Registrants were
                      permitted to sell their existing inventories until

                      May 23, 2011.

                    • NY Farmer

                      Exactly– Rotenone was still acceptable for use in conventional agriculture (as per EPA) even after it was no longer approved for use in organic agriculture (because no formulations that include rotenone were acceptable under the National Organic Program).

                    • Needham’s M. Garden

                      Why would any “non organic” farmer want to use rotenone, copper or nicotine sulphate for that matter. We have far safer, more effective tools in our toolbox!

                    • NY Farmer

                      On pyrethrum insecticides:

                      Please list a source for your claim that organic versions of pyrethrins break down into more toxic compounds than synthetic pyretrhoid insecticides.

                    • RobertWager

                      I will have to get back to you on that as the paper I had is not on hand. We both are on forums so I will present it to you at some future point when I find it.

                    • Ilana L

                      LOL NY Farmer I think you have RobertWager on the hop. LOL

                    • NY Farmer

                      On your claims of rampant fraud in the organic certification process:

                      Please list a source for your claim that “30-45% of organic produce tested have synthetic pesticide levels equivalent to those found in conventionally grown produce”

                      On the contrary, the USDA’s study “Pesticide Residue Testing of Organic Produce” found that 96% of samples had either no residues at all (57%) or less than 5% of the residues that would be allowed on non-organic crops. Evidence of these minimal residues does not necessarily indicate “cheating” by organic farmers, as small residues can be introduced during transport, etc.

                      There is mandatory field testing for pesticide residue on organic crops, certifiers are required to test samples from at least 5% of the farms that they certify each year.

                      Can you point to any evidence of widespread cheating or fraud among organic farmers? I’m sure there are a some bad actors out there, but I don’t see any reason to believe that there would be more organic farmers cheating the system than there might be conventional farmers illegally applying pesticides at non-labeled rates, for example.

                    • NY Farmer

                      Copper products are widely used on both organic and conventional farms. The difference is that organic farmers are required to use preventative measures before resorting to spraying, and as you mentioned, are required to use methods to ensure that copper does not built up to toxic levels in the soil.

                      First off, copper is not by itself a problem in the soil; it is in fact a necessary micronutrient, and recommended to be applied as fertilizer for certain crops http://www.soils.wisc.edu/extension/pubs/A2527.pdf

                      Since too much of any mineral, copper included, could be a problem in soils, both conventional and organic farmers need to make sure they’re not overapplying copper. Organic farmers are required to rotate crops, which means that it’s unlikely that crops that are sprayed with copper will be repeatedly planted in the same area year after year. Researchers at Cornell University have told me that even conventional monoculture tomato farms in Florida that apply copper sprays on the same ground, year round, year after year, are not seeing copper levels in soil build up to problematic levels.

                      As for your question about fire blight on apples, I don’t know the first thing about apple production, I’m not the one to ask.

              • Ilana L

                Thanks. There are problems with GMO crops and the impact of pesticides on the environmental balance. There is a bee hive collapse for one, which has been traced supposedly back to GMO and Roundup. How many other species have been affected?

          • Needham’s M. Garden

            Hey NY Farmer – I also have spent my entire life farming and I know a lot of other farmers – and farmers gossip also – yet I have never heard anyone ever mention anything about any incident of pesticide poisoning.

            As for you other claim about now needing to use 2 herbicides – makes me wonder how much farming you really do or think you know. Typically one would “tank mix” herbicides together to get “maximum control” of as many weed species as possible. Grass type weeds need different sprays as broad leaf weeds and sometime a third component may be added to get perennial weeds that the others do not kill.

            Then glysophate came along with glysophate tolerant crops and now we had a single herbicide that did it all.

            Don’t talk like glysohate is the first herbicide to have weeds become resistant because it is not – research triazine resistant weeds if you do not believe me.

            I grow conventional sweet corn – not gmo and I need to use three seperate herbicides to get decent control of weeds – atrazine, s-methaclor and mesotrione. All much more dangerous in the concentrate form than glysophate.

            Did you know that 2 of the 3 main components of Listerine mouth wash are more toxic that glysophate and we intentionally put Listerine in our mouths at full strength – not the 200 drops per tennis court rate that glysophate is used at.

    • maurice tougas

      NYFarmer, when I click on link you provide I get
      CDC – Page Not Found
      Could you please provide working link? Thanks.

      • NY Farmer
        • maurice tougas

          Thank you NY Farmer. Looks to be an “estimate” made by EPA and does not sort type of pesticide used. The one pesticide poisoning I have first hand knowledge was the result of a reaction to sulfur we were using on peaches in 1987. Involved hospitalization . Of course in some countries (England and ?) sulfur is not counted as a pesticide. We do use several OMNI listed materials, coppers, lime sulfur, etc which have some pretty cautious warnings on the label, though it is often stated that organic means “No persistant toxic pesticides ” can be used. (Stoney field Farm yogurt label for example)

          • NY Farmer

            If you want to see some data on pesticide poisoning that is broken out by type of pesticide used, California records data on this. http://apps.cdpr.ca.gov/calpiq/index.cfm I just did a search of reported cases in 2012 and found that only 6% of those cases involved pesticides approved for use on organic farms (in these cases sulfur, copper and Bt). This does not mean that 6% of these cases happened on organic farms, odds are that these cases happened on conventional farms (conventional farms widely use these substances as well). The largest percentage of poisoning cases involved synthetic fumigants like Chloropicrin, nasty stuff.

            Regarding sulfur, elemental sulfur (approved in organic farming but much more widely used in conventional farming) is listed as “mildly toxic” (Class III) by the EPA for inhalation and dermal, and class IV “essentially non toxic” for ingestion. However, sulfur dioxide and other sulfur gases can be very toxic (these are not approved for organic use).

            • Warren Lauzon

              One of the problems is that “pesticides” is a pretty wide term, and beside agricultural use includes everything from highway weed control to building fumigation.

    • Angela

      But I wonder if these folks are using proper protection when working with pesticides and herbicides. As you’ve said in another comment, it’s not really a problem for row crop farmers applying ‘cides with a tractor and sprayer, but rather with vegetable workers. I’ve looked into organic ‘cides and find them just as toxic so I believe the solution to this problem would be better safety equipment for the workers. Face masks, gloves, etc.

      • NY Farmer

        Unfortunately many of the victims of pesticide poisoning are fieldworkers who are not adequately warned when fields are being sprayed (or have been sprayed). Of course some cases involve workers not using the proper equipment, but also some are just accidents or due to faulty equipment. Since accidents like this will happen no matter how careful we are, I would suggest that farm workers are better off in an organic system where the most toxic classes of pesticides are not allowed.

        As for your suggestion that organic pesticides are just as toxic as conventional ones, I disagree, see my response to Dr. Payet’s comment below, and feel free to list any sources supporting your suggestion if you can find any.

      • Ilana L

        Ummmm, my dear, if workers have to wear gloves and masks to spray food crops against pests, and down the track I am going to be consuming those crops, THANK YOU, but no thankee babee. I want to eat food that does not require the workers to suit up in anti-chemical clothing. I few bugs I can pick out or soak in a vinegar solution. Just WOW your ‘logic’ blows me over.

        • Ummmm, Ilana – so what about organic pesticides? When handling those, workers also have to use protective gear as a precaution.

          Look, why don’t you try starting a whole farm of about 5,000 acres and see how well you do picking things off all the plants. Seriously. Trying to extrapolate from your little backyard farm to a large-scale farm that helps feed tens of thousands or millions of people…..simply doesn’t work.

          Sorry, but your logic is the one lacking because you fail to grasp the scale involved.

          Of course, you’re also still ignoring the fact that organic farmers also use pesticides and herbicides, some of which are more toxic than others.

    • NY Farmer, once again you are mixing up “organic” and “pesticide-free.” Those don’t mean the same thing. Organic farmers also use pesticides and herbicides, some of which are as toxic or even more so than synthetic ones. This is the exact kind of fear-mongering and inaccuracies that got me turned off on organic. I know that not all organic farmers wouldn’t even agree with you, because I’ve talked with some of them, too.
      Unfortunately, your argument is based on false foundations.

      • NY Farmer

        I think you maybe not have read my original comment carefully. I acknowledged that organic farmers use certain approved pesticides. I also noted that on organic farms pesticides can only be used as a last resort after preventative measures are taken, and that the most toxic classes of pesticides are not approved for use on organic farms in the US. I promise, I am not “mixed up” on this issue. I am a full-time farmer who has farmed organically and conventionally. You trying to school me on this would be like me trying to tell you how to do a root canal.

        Take a look at this document from Cornell University Ag School, part of their pesticide applicator certification program, which lists various symptoms of pesticide poisoning: http://psep.cce.cornell.edu/Tutorials/core-tutorial/module09/index.aspx Of the 49 classes of pesticides listed on this document as having harmful health effects, only two of them are approved for organic production: pyrethrin and copper salts. Pyrethrin is listed at “very low human toxicity”. Copper salts, if ingested at acute doses, are moderately toxic. Elemental sulfur (used widely in conventional farming, and some in organic farming) isn’t on this list, but is mildly toxic and can be an eye and skin irritant. Compare the risks of these organically-approved pesticides to those of some of the synthetic materials on the list (which are not allowed in organic farming): Chloropicrin, a fumigant widely used in conventional farming, which is listed as an EPA Category I “highly toxic” material; Organophosphate insecticides which are EPA Category I “highly toxic” in for ingestion, dermal exposure and inhalation.

        There is a myth that highly toxic pesticides are approved for organic farming in the U.S. Often people point to Rotenone (because it is technically a “natural” pesticide), which is indeed very toxic, but no formulations of Rotenone are currently permitted for organic farmers to use in the U.S.

        • Suzanne and NY Farmer – my apologies for not replying yet. Due to my patient schedule today, I’ll have to wait until this evening or the weekend to reply in more detail, but rest assured, I’m not ignoring you. 🙂 The response to this article has been so overwhelming that it’s been difficult to keep up while still spending time with my family, dogs, and taking care of patients, so please bear with me, ok?

          • NY Farmer

            Family and patients definitely come first! A close second is spring planting on the farm, which is keeping me busy too.

            I have enjoyed the discussion and it has nudged me to research some things I didn’t know.

            • Joe Smoe

              We love you NY Farmer!! You aren’t pulling my leg or my teeth!

      • Suzannah Ohlune Schroyen

        Charles, can you share with us a specific example of what organic pesticide you are referring to that is just as or more toxic than a synthetic or chemical pesticide? Also when we are speaking of toxins it’s important to differentiate if it’s a persistent toxin, or if it dissipates in the environment quickly, DDT is a great example of a persistent toxin, which was one of the reasons that it was banned worldwide for agricultural use in 2001. but of course one should always be careful when applying fungicides, or insecticides, organic or chemical and take proper safety precautions.

    • Warren Lauzon

      I only did a quick search, but I could find nothing shows that the pesticides used in organic farming are any less dangerous than conventional ones.

    • scotty perey

      One the most enduring misconceptions about “organic” is that it involves no pesticides or herbicides. A recent Pew survey found that 95% of organic consumers mistakenly believed this (I was one of them up until recently myself). Here is a list of approved pesticides for “certified organic” and their relative toxicities for bees (thanks to the Xerces society). From what I have gathered, the natural fallacy is egregiously at play here, and that in reality, farm workers are *much* safer working with Roundup for instance than, say, the “natural” pyrethrum, a very heinous neurotoxin that is considered “organic”

      http://www.xerces.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/xerces-organic-approved-pesticides-factsheet.pdf

      • NY Farmer

        Regarding toxicity to bees, most of the products that fall under the “Highly Toxic” category on that list (spinosad, pyrethrum, copper sulfate . . .) are widely used by conventional growers, not just used by organic growers. The difference is, organic growers can only use those sprays as a last resort after preventative measures have been exhausted (for example, releasing beneficial insects), there is no such requirement in conventional farming.

        As for your comparison of Roundup to Pyrethrins, it doesn’t really make any sense to compare these two products since Roundup is a herbicide and Pyrethrum is an insecticide. More appropriate would be comparing Roundup herbicide use to organic farming’s primary weed control method, which is mechanical cultivation (weeding). Or comparing organic farmers’ use of Pyrethrins (only can be used as a last resort in organic farming, but widely used in conventional farming with not such restriction) to conventional insecticides such as Organophosphates (highly toxic).

        As with most of life, things aren’t black and white on these issues. For example, the Xerces Society published information noting that organic farming’s greater use of tillage can disturb bees that are ground nesting more than herbicide-based no-till conventional farming.

        • NY Farmer, I appreciate you sticking around and contributing to the discussion. If you do have any links/references to support your statements, they would be much appreciated. 🙂

          Also, I have some specific questions: you have stated several times that organic farmers are only allowed to use pesticides/herbicides as a “last resort.” What exactly does that mean? How is it documented, what other steps must be tried first, are they absolutely required or just recommended, stuff like that. Are there NO comparable recommendations or restrictions with conventional to your knowledge?

          • NY Farmer

            You can see the exact language regarding when organic farmers may use approved pesticides in the USDA Organic Standards rule §205.206 “Crop pest, weed, and disease management practice standard” http://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=c7abf8f74cfe8eae63430da87d7e66f3&mc=true&node=se7.3.205_1206&rgn=div8 In short, it lays out the various preventative steps a farmer must use to control pests / weeds / disease, and states that if these measures are insufficient, then approved organic sprays may be used. This rule is enforced by the organic certifier / inspector, who looks at the farmer’s “organic systems plan” (a document at the core of the organic certification process) and the farm’s records (spray records, etc. which must be thoroughly documented) to determine if the farm is in compliance with the rules.

            There is no such requirement for non-organic farmers, sprays may be used without hesitation, as long as the farmers abide by the restrictions on the pesticide’s “label”. The pesticide label specifies the maximum rate at which the product can be used; the intervals at which the product can be used; and safety practices for applying the product, as regulated by the EPA. (of course organic farmers also must follow the rules of the label when applying organic pesticides).

            Of course many conventional farmers do use preventative measures before spraying, and many adhere to “Integrated Pest Management” protocols which seek to minimize use of the most harmful sprays. But there’s no rule saying that they must do so.

            There was a good article in The Guardian last fall focusing on the use of fumigants in conventional strawberry farming. http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2014/nov/10/-sp-california-strawberry-industry-pesticides It illustrates this situation well– at one point the journalist interviews a conventional farmer who has had success growing berries using coconut fiber in the plant’s root zone instead of fumigating the soil; but because the method adds about 10% to the cost of production, he needs to stick with using dangerous fumigants to compete. Because there is no requirement to use preventative measures before using chemical fumigants in conventional agriculture, fumigating wins out due to market pressures, despite the negative health effects that these fumigants are having in the communities where they are being used.

        • scotty perey

          I too appreciate your insights and am interested in knowing more. Thank you.

          “As with most of life, things aren’t black and white…” <—something the entire Internet could take to heart 🙂

        • Needham’s M. Garden

          I do not know anyone other than “organic” growers that use that stuff – why would you when there are far safer more effective products for us to use?

        • Needham’s M. Garden

          Are you also foolish enough to believe that “organic” guys have the “last resort” stuff sitting on their shelf but first try the things that everyone knows DO NOT WORK?

  • deweydewey

    In a nutshell, make informed decisions. I whole-heartedly agree!!

  • Suzannah Ohlune Schroyen

    I agree it is best to research and have a good understanding of why you are making your choices. And I know that there is hype and propoganda in the “organic” industry. Just as there is in the chemical agricultural industry. I was wondering though, did you have a chance to speak with organic growers and farmers too, or only conventional? Because I don’t see you citing their perspective. I am an organic farmer, and I can tell you why it’s more expensive to grow organically. Because chemical pesitcides and fertilizers are cheaply made and mass marketed, often because they are byproducts of other industry, like mining. Instead of killing weeds and insects indiscriminatly, an organic farmer tries to honor the ecosystem that they are working within, and support natural checks and balances to control for pests and diseases. Organic farming is also a system that builds soil health over the long term, whereas chemical agriculture is depleteing in nature, eventually wiping out the soil biology too. Other than the benefits of supporting sustainable agriculture, and ecosystems approach with farming, there is also some pretty strong evidence in our history that can lead us to question whether the testing that is done is sufficient, before a product is deemed safe. Have you ever read Racheal Carson’s Silent Spring? This book led to the banning of DDT. A widespread agricultural chemical that was proven to have some very detrimental effects. And all the GMO testing that they have done, they still do not have the ability to tell us what the long term effects are of their science, beause they didn’t want to wait that long. We are the the guinea pigs in this test study. But I will tell you as a farmer the most unsettling thing that GMO is doing is they are trying to put patents on all the seeds, and control the seeds for profit, they sued a farmer in Canada who had seed from the neighbor’s farm land on his farm, and they want him to pay royalties to their business. Saving seed is a basic human right, and to have any company try to control and claim seed as their own property, and not take resposibility for how their seed is contaminating other farmers seeds who have been saving and growing out their heritage seeds for generations is highly questionable. And there are numerous countries now that have changed their mind about GMO”s and have now banned them. Have you had a chance to look into that? Good for you for working towards a deeped understanding, and I hope my comments inspire you to dig deeper.

    • Oh boy, Suzanne, where to start? There are so many errors in your statement that are perfect examples of why I wrote this article. If you, as an organic farmer, don’t even understand the errors (basic science stuff), there is a problem. I will have to reply later in more depth, but Mike Kerrigan has already rebutted a number of your points quite well.
      Your information on the legal case re: GMO seeds is also completely incorrect BTW. That farmer was found to have DELIBERATELY kept the seed and planted it – it’s all in the court documents that are publicly available, but which you obviously haven’t read (I have).

      • Suzannah Ohlune Schroyen

        Wow, it is sure difficult to have a mature conversation with someone who’s primary response is just to express your opinion that I am wrong, and completely incorrect, and so full of errors, yet you do not take the time to elucidate your beliefs. Perhaps you are missing the point of this discussion….I’m not against you, and I’m not debating you, I am a concerned person who aspires for health for all people and for the biosphere that we inhabit. I’m supporting your ability to have a bigger perspective. I took the time to write because it seemed to me like you didn’t have the opportunity to talk with organic farmers, so I was sharing my perspective. And it’s a big topic, room for lots of perspectives really, and what I am sharing with you comes from the truth of my experience with the land, of being a farmer, and growing food, and my concerns for big bio-tech companies to patent seeds, and limit peoples rights to save seed on their land, which is exactly what the Percy Schmiser case was about. Yes he did deliberatley plant the seed, but it was saved seed from his farm. He was claiming his right to save seed from his farm, and grow it out again, without paying for it. The court ruled in favor of Monsanto because they said he “ought to have known” it was patented seed” but that’s the real concern. If patented seed contaminates our whole food supply, the farmer will forever be in debt to the bio-tech companies. That was the point I was trying to share with you. We are losing our basic human rights to save seed and grow our food. and we are creating a lot of health issues in the human race from chemical pollution. And there is a lot of science out there to help us understand that chemical pesticide use is really harmful to our health, and to the health of other biological life. Have you had the chance to look at PAN North America? (Pesticide Action Network) They have a great scientific foundation for their work. They also talk about Agroecology, which is about the science behind sustainable agriculture. Perhaps this is what you were referring to when you spoke your support of conventional farming practices. It sounds like you have had the opportunity to meet some of the farmers in your area and learn from them how they farm, and you got the impression that it was a sustainable system, and it clearly inspired you to write this article, yet your outright dismissal of everything else seems a little narrow. Hopefully this gives you a bigger window to look out of.

        • Angela

          Purely on the seed patents: No one is saying you can’t save and keep YOUR OWN seed. But this person was in fact buying the seed first. Would it be difficult to find a non-patented row crop seed to plant and save seed from and make your own? Oh no doubt, but I wouldn’t say impossible. As for it “contaminating” other fields, we’ve already seen in some recent cases that farmers could sue the company, not the other way around due to issues selling a “contaminated crop.”

          Additionally, it has generally become more effective to let plant breeders (including plant breeding companies) sell seed to farmers because many farmers do not have the time to devote to such an important practice AND because the best yields often come from F1 generation crops that are the result of cross breeding varieties and thus have hybrid vigor (hence all the marketing of crop hybrids). When industries get big workers in the industry have specialized tasks to make it all more efficient. In ag that means we have breeders, we have growers, we have chemists, we have environmentalists, and we have marketers. Rarely are those all the same person. Arguments can be made as to whether or not that’s a good or bad thing, but it’s a thing.

          You’re right in saying this is a large and complex issue. Agriculture and thus life in first world countries changed rather rapidly and is still changing at a rapid pace. Ag looked very different 20 years ago and it will look very different 20 years from now. Only one thing is for sure: we as a country have learned how to produce safe, cheap food which has given us our status as a first world country, so we must be doing something right. We’ll keep changing though until it’s perfect.

          • Angela, thanks for chiming in with some great information. I can’t remember where, but on a farmer’s FB page most likely, there was a discussion of that very topic. Most of the public probably has no idea how much extra storage would be required for farmers to save their own seeds, as well as the extra work required to separate the seeds that need to be stored from the produce going to market. We don’t really understand the amount of work involved in farming because the huge majority of us still have that idyllic image of a farm from “Little House on the Prairie.” But when it comes to dealing with THOUSANDS of acres at a time, it does make sense that there’s a division of labor, and if the seed companies (such as Monsanto) are better at that part, why would you want to spend more to do it yourself?

            Great comment!

          • Suzannah Ohlune Schroyen

            Yes, I agree that centralization of our food supply has created the need for industrial production, and first world countries excel in their ability to increase productivity, and decrease costs. But sometimes other benefits are lost in that, and other costs are not calculated. Considering the best yeilds to be the most important thing is based upon a production oriented belief system. Yes, hybrids can produce bigger crops, or more disease resistant, but seed diversity is also really valuable, and most of what you are speaking to is really just about the giant agro industry, and there are a lot of small farm holders and back yard gardeners who do save seed, and are concerned by the effects of seed patents on their way of living, and the potential limitation of heirloom seed production in favor of hybrids, GMO’s and overall loss of seed diversity. I am here representing the small farmholder, and I am only sharing my perspective. Thanks for reading.

            • Angela

              I honestly think you don’t have much to worry about. No, I don’t think heirloom seed will ever be mainstream again but that’s the point of niche markets and what makes them valuable and special (aka a niche). There will always be people looking for things out of the ordinary and I think heirloom seed products will always have that place. The fear of lost seed diversity is what has already spurred seed banks and a topic I don’t think people will forget. We’re losing diversity in everything right now: seed, livestock, computer brands, beer companies. But, in my opinion, that means the smaller diverse items are more valuable and will continue to be sought after because of their uniqueness. Especially today when hipsters are abundant! lol. Not sure if that will ease anyone’s concern at all, but it’s a nice thought in the least.

        • You know what? You’re right….my off-the-cuff response really wasn’t very respectful, so I hope you will accept my apologies. I do maintain that your initial comment was phrased in such a way that it presented information about that lawsuit incorrectly, though. Whether it was saved seed from his farm or not, the law is the law, and he KNOWINGLY violated the law. Quite frankly, he deserved what he got, and IMO he should not be used as an example of how “bad” Monsanto is for protecting its patents.

          If you don’t like the patent system in the USA, that’s one thing. In fact, I agree that there are real flaws in it. I do NOT agree that companies that are spending millions of dollars to develop better seeds and crops shouldn’t be able to patent the seeds to protect their investment……..unless you can figure out a way to get companies to spend that kind of money with no hope of ever recovering it? It’s not enough to complain about the system – find a way to fix it. But don’t hold up as martyrs anyone who knowingly violated the law out of greed.

          As for “human rights to save seeds and grow our own food?” I’m sorry, when was that ever a “human right?” Human rights are about speech, liberty, faith, equality….but the right to save seeds that someone else created? You lost me completely there, and I disagree 100%.

          Chemical pollution? There again you are confusing issues. Chemical pollution is something with which ALL farmers have to deal because even organic pesticides are chemicals. Implying that only GMO farmers are responsible for “chemical pollution” is naive and misleading.

          I’m certainly not dismissive of organic farming, and through this article, I’ve already connected on FB with a few organic farmers who seem equally respectful of all good farming methods.

          My main point is NOT that organic farming/farmers are bad – not at all! What upsets me is the “Big Organic” and propaganda like the “NewMacDonald” video that was so awful, and FB pages spreading anti-GMO lies, etc.

          • Suzannah Ohlune Schroyen

            Thank you for the apology Charles and taking the time to express your perspective. I see that you support the law and enforcement of the law, even if it means loss of liberty. And that is what I am referring to in that Monsanto lawsuit. I agree that it was a convoluted case and I’m not calling Percy a martyr, but this case brings to light the slippery slope that we now find ourselves on. You see when I speak of the basic human right to save seed, and to grow that seed into food, I am referring to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as set forth by the UN, in article 3 and 4 Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person. and No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms. As a human being I recognize that I am dependent upon food to sustain my life, and I recognize my ability to support my life, and have security through saving seed and growing it out again, I understand that as a basic human right. That is my interpretation. If 10 years from now, Monsanto and the other big 6 agro-bio-chemical-companies have control over the seed production and are only growing out GMO, and everyone has to pay them royalties to buy their seed to grow it out to sustain life. I see that as a kind of slavery that I do not wish to have put upon me. Again this is my perspective, and as a farmer I understand that I can keep saving and growing out my seed, but I also understand that seed pollination occurs through wind, and insect pollination, and cross pollination occurs over long distances, and how am I able to keep my seed pure, and uncontaminated if my neighbor is growing GMO seed? My question is how can they legitimately hold a patent on something that they cannot control the spread of? I don’t know how to answer your question about how these big companies can protect their investments, but ultimately I feel like their bottom line is my biggest concern, and I don’t think that making economics the highest priority is really going serve the good of all. Since 1996, small farmers have been voicing their concerns about the loss of their traditional ways. They have coined a new term “Food sovereignty” which is the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems. It puts those who produce, distribute and consume food at the heart of food systems and policies rather than the demands of markets and corporations. It defends the interests and inclusion of the next generation. It offers a strategy to resist and dismantle the current corporate trade and food regime, and directions for food, farming, pastoral and fisheries systems determined by local producers. Food sovereignty prioritises local and national economies and markets and empowers peasant and family farmer-driven agriculture, artisanal fishing, pastoralist-led grazing, and food production, distribution and consumption based on environmental, social and economic sustainability. I think this is a really valuble perspective, and one that supports the small farmers and the workers who consider growing food their livelyhood, not just a way to make money. As for my comments on chemical pesticides, one of the biggest differences in organic and chemical pesticides is weather or not they are persistent in the environment. And you are right, it’s everyones issue, because it affects all of us, not just the grower but the consumer too. If we all keep working towards what is the healthiest not just for ourselves, but also for the environment, not just in this generation, but considering also our future generations to come, we cannot go wrong. May we be inspired by the possibilities

        • Needham’s M. Garden

          Next thing you know Suzzane will be combining “organic” and sustainable in the same sentence. That will be the point when all credibility is lost.

      • Ilana L

        When you do not have a reliable or strong argument, the tactic in debating is often to attack the opponent on a personal level which you have just done Charles Payet. In no way did you answer Suzannah but just attacked her credibility as a person. How about looking at what she is saying and answer that.
        You come across as a bit immature and silly.

        • And if you continue reading, you will see that I apologized for my tone and response and Suzanne accepted it, then we moved on to a more productive discussion, which you apparently missed.

  • daniel bertini

    I used to be a rabid anti dentite!! Just kidding!! It is scary, though, that you fell into that trap and you have a SCIENCE DEGREE!! It behooves all science graduates to tow the line, because most information is misinformation. My response is always: WHERE IS THE EVIDENCE for your claim? That usually shuts the person up! Thoughtful post!! Thanks for all you do!! Yours in science education!!

  • Philip V. Gastinel

    Excellent arrticle, I couldn’t agree more and as a dentist in Baton Rouge practicing in an office next door to an alternative medicine doctor; I find myself often between a rock and a hard place. Great comments and such a breath of fresh air. Phil

    • Yikes, that must be tough. Don’t want to piss off a neighbor, but biting your tongue that much has to be painful. Sorry to hear about that!

      BTW – do you know Bob Westerman and Sandy Pardue? I worked with Sandy as a consulting client many years ago and visited Baton Rouge several times. Dr. Westerman was pretty amazing, too. Not my style of practice, ultimately, but Sandy is still a great friend.

      • Philip V. Gastinel

        I don’t know Sandy but have known Bob for years. I am one of the old timers now, but not quite up where Bob is. We have good Friends in Charlotte but don’t get there that often. I find myself mostly up in the mountains when I visit your beautiful state. We do mostly fly in and out of Charlotte though.

  • Kathie Bakken

    http://pmep.cce.cornell.edu/profiles/extoxnet/dienochlor-glyphosate/ethylene-dibromide-ext.html Scientific enough? Of course, the US government didn’t realize how unsafe this pesticide was, until it had been heavily used in wheat and oranges for over 20 years.

    • Is that REALLY the best you can come up with? Yeesh.

  • sara

    I think I just found my new favorite dentist! When you move to Portland, you’ll have a new customer. This is a great, great article. I think it’s fantastic when those in the medical community stand up and say what they actually think. Thank you!

    • Glad you liked it, Sara! If you’re talking about Portland, OR I’m hoping to visit with my family this summer, but after spending 15 years building up our practice, it would be a little tough to relocate. 😀 But thanks for the compliment, and if you really do need a good dentist, I could see if I can find someone through my dental networks. It’s kind of funny, but I know more dentists around the country than here in Charlotte, so it’s not uncommon that I can help with that.

      • Mike Kerrigan

        Mike: As a conventional farmer for a organic farmer to say that we are essentially raping our soil is hog wash. By participating in proper crop rotation and soil testing with fertilizer application we are building our soils to be productive for years to come. We are also spraying our fields to control obnoxious weeds but also applying proper amount and rotating chemical groups to stop resistance to the chemical. We live on this earth and love what we do so the last thing we want to do is over apply chemicals to harm the land that our children will till in the future.also as a cattle producer it kills me to hear people saying that they want organic beef so they are not putting chemicals in their bodies but they are vaccinating their children so that they can stay in the school system. So they can vaccinate children to keep them healthy but we can’t vaccinate our cattle to keep them healthy because they don’t want chemicals in their body. Ironic I think so

      • Bummer! 🙂 That’s ok, I do have a good dentist I like just fine. But if you were here, I’d certainly switch! Definitely do visit Portland in the summer, unless you fancy some rain. It’s kind of a woo-heavy town, but the coast and the mountains make it tolerable. There are regular people, too (like me) but you do have to look for them. 🙂

  • Thanks for this post! Critical thinking is in short supply these days. I’ve also stopped buying anything labeled organic as the marketing behind the industry is rather dishonest. Costco is one of the few bulk discount stores on our island, and they’ve had a big push toward organic products this past year. I’m having a hard time shopping there these days. Looks like my membership will be cancelled soon. I also love all the farm blogs you listed! http://iowameetsmaui.com/2015/01/10/costcos-organic-push/

  • Thank you! Farmers really are the best source for learning about where your food is coming from.

  • Thank you for including me in this, well done!

    • Sarah, it was my pleasure, given how much I’ve learned from you and your fellow Ag-vocates. In retrospect, I can’t imagine why I didn’t think of it sooner, but I’m glad that I did. I love learning, and if it means changing my mind, so be it.

      • Benjamin Edge

        FYI: Kevin Folta will be giving a workshop on science communication in Durham on April 20. https://www.eventbrite.com/e/rtp-biotech-communication-workshop-tickets-16486554729

        • I know, and I really wish I could go, but attending something like that mid-week from Charlotte would be impossible unless I didn’t mind going without sleep. I’d love to meet him in person one day. Thanks for posting the link in case anyone else is interested.

          • morelambchops

            Charlotte….isn’t that where the food babe lives? Oh no! You’re surrounded by her idiocy? I’m sorry. Glad to hear Charlotte residents are smart enough to see past her BS.

            • Yeah, I’ve always wondered how I would react if I came across her in public. She gets me so mad with all the BS she spreads and that people fall for hook, line, and sinker.

              • The best way to challenge the Food Babe is to start by asking her why organic crops and livestock are not tested to ensure they’re genuine and safe.
                There’s no point getting mad. Just challenge her with logic.

                • Challenge the Food Babe with logic? HA! Good one! The Food Babe is, unfortunately, impervious to logic, science, and common sense. If she could actually be persuaded by logic, she wouldn’t be the Food Babe.

                  • Most people on our side of the fence aren’t even aware that there is no field testing in the organic industry. Now that you know, you have a piece of ammunition with which to confront her.

                    I’ve found that at least a third of the problem here is that people on our side of the fence have already given up on challenging people like the Food Babe. Make sure you’re not one of them.

                  • First Officer

                    LOL! I love her 100 elements in her grass juice claim. Maybe some have yet to be discovered by physicists !

  • William

    Great post and agree with all! Good links too. Only comment is that I’d like to see the post dated (unless I missed it somewhere..).