Our agricultural idyll of of yester-era began to dissolve when Paul Müller, a Swiss entomologist, discovered (DDT) dichlorodiphenyl trichloroethane in 1960. The most potent insecticide ever encountered.
After World War II, when the world was rebuilding, it was labelled as miracle cure for crop calamity and used far and wide.
A year later Rachel Carson published a paper on the dangers of DDT and, desipte her scolarly background and approach, was derided as 'hysterical' by those who attacked her scientific crediblity. However, Carson managed to raise enough of a ruckus to raise awareness and trigger the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
DDT was soon found to augment breast & other cancers, male infertility, miscarriages & low birth weight, developmental delay and nervous system & liver damage. It's a familiar story - chemicals being released onto the market before their impacts can be fully understood.
Pesticides permeate through our every day with 80% occupied within the agricultural industry in spray cans and crop dusters, and the rest found household cleaners, hand soaps, swimming pools and such like. Insecticides (bug killers), herbicides (weed killers), and fungicides (fungus killers) are all pesticides; so are rodenticides and antimicrobials.
The pesticide most widely used by local authorities in the UK is the weedkiller Glyphosate. This chemical has also been linked to serious human health problems, including cancer, birth defects and serious skin abrasions. Glyphosate also harms wildlife, distorting the balance of natrual biodiversity.
In 2014, around 30 pesticides were set to be banned because of health risks. However, with their value running into the billions the movement was blocked. EU officials found themselves under intense pressure and unscrupulous lobbying campaigns from big corporations which use the chemicals in cosmetics, plastics and toilletries. Rather than simply lobbying for the neutrality of publicity for the chemicals, new insanity in the sector seeks to 'push coordinated messages attacking organic food production, defending pesticides and the routine use of antibiotics and promoting GMOs'. Big businesses buy fronting media groups to deploy distroted messages in order to confuse consumers and maintain their custom.
> Myth #1: Pesticides will feed the world
Despite agressive marketing and lobbying which assert that pesticides are imperative for food security, insecticide use in the US multiplied ten times following World War II, however crop losses almost doubled. If feeding the world was such a huge priorirty, we wouldn't spend most of our crops feeding the heavy, hooved livestock industry - feeding hungry cows (an incredibly lucrative global market which these companies control). Up to 40-50% of global grain is to feed livestock. Just so that we can enjoy meat.
> Myth #2: Pesticides aren't dangerous
They are literally designed to cause death. Most widely in the insecticide form which attacks the nervous system and brains of pest insects. In humans they are linked to attention disorders, cancers, disabilities, infertility, Parkinsons and more. Girls exposed to DDT before puberty are five times more likely to develop breast cancer. Even the World Health Organization recently expressed the key ingredient in the widely used herbicide RoundUp is a “probable human carcinogen.”
> Myth #3: Governments will protect us
The American government predictably perpetrates the worst problem. The indestructable dalliance with pesticide and grain super-giant Monstano in Washington provides serious probelms for policy reform. It’s also important to understand that research used to determine the safety of a pesticide is funded and conducted by the corporations marketing the product, often leading to distortion of findings.
> Myth #4: GMOs reduce reliance on pesticides
Unfortunately, but unsuprisingly, GMO seed sellers as the big pesticide coporations of the world. More than 80 percent of the GMO crops grown worldwide are designed to tolerate increased herbicide use, not reduce pesticide use.
> Myth #6: We're weaning ourselves off of pesticides
After 20 years of market stagnation, the pesticide industry entered a period of vigorous growth in 2004. The global pesticide market was worth approximately $46 billion in 2012 and continues to grow. It is expected to reach $65 billion by 2017, with the U.S. accounting for 53% of global use.
> Myth #7: Pesticides are the answer to global climate change
The big 6 pesticide producers: Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer, DuPont, BASF and others have registered 532 patents for “climate-related genes,” new GMOs they profess are engineered to remain resillient against heat and drought. Their encroachment on the traditional methods continue to lock farmers into downward spirals, ending the natural and desirble traits of their methods - methods that may prove more important than ever as in the face of unpredictable changes.
As "superbugs" and "superweeds" develop in response to widespread and continous use of chemicals, a farmer will spend more on pesticides each year just to keep crop losses at a standard rate. However, the cost of chemicals can be as much as 60% of farmers’ production costs, which leads to severe indebtedness.
Basically, farmers get caught on inevitable and immoral treadmills as they are forced to use more and more expensive pesticides provided by big coporations, applying increasingly toxic chemicals to control insects and weeds that are developing resistance to pesticides with each application.
The food industry lifts tricks from the tobacco archives to fund front groups who will defend their interests.
farming that “centers on food production that makes the best use of nature’s goods and services while not damaging these resources.” It applies ecology to the design of farming systems; uses a whole-systems approach to farming and food systems; and links ecology, culture, economics and society to create healthy environments, food production and communities.
What can we do?
I was suprised to find it relatively difficult to find cruical information on how to curtail consumtion of pesticides in the UK. Except for Pesticide Action Netwok (PAN), that has groups all over the world and is based in Brighton here in the UK.
But, importantly for thriving local economies, depowering dastardly multinational coporations and picking non-poisonous produce find your local organic box scheme, delivering innocuous, inoxious, altruisitc agroecology to your door. Safe fruits and vegetables cooked by local people on home soil in keeping with the natural cycles and devices of the planet.
I buy from Local Greens a local coalition of three mothers who had enough of feeding their children foods steeped in pesticides and so began to form networks with local farmers. They lovingly collect vegetables from within in a 20 mile vicinity of South London, and deliver them to the communities by electric car - which I pick up on Thursdays from my local station outside Hootenanny's in Brixton. The joy is learning what the hell is in the of the nobbly, rooty reams of goodness and experimenting with delicious organic meals for the week.
The Food Assembley
The Food Assembley is nationwide! Groups of amazing people growing locally and selling at markets nearby. Use this search to join and find your local assembley.
Soil Association organic search
Or, delivered to your door. This search can help you find your local organic box scheme. However, Local Greens isn't listed, so also think of using an ethical search engine for more options.
Three supermarkets are doing the most to minimize their pesticide practicies.
In the middle, Asda, Somerfield, Tesco and Waitrose could certainly be doing more.
And at the bottom Aldi, Lidl and Morrisons all appear to be doing absolutely nothing.
Also, remembering that blemished fruit and vegetables are natural and still sapid. Imperfect foods have been being consumed safely for thousands of years, and many supermarkets are waking up to this face and selling discounted disfigured
best & worst foods
Here's some details on the best and worst items to go for, and where's best to buy: