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Posted Mon Aug 15 2011: from Scientific American blogs:
Myths: Busted - Clearing Up the Misunderstandings about Organic Farming
The article1, by a PhD candidate named Christie Wilcox, was compromised by a slew of elisions and exaggerations. If the intention was to myth-bust, mark this one a fail: The article spread new misconceptions about the methods of organic food production. As the co-manager of an urban farm2 that uses organic practices, I was annoyed by the distortions in the article. So I'm pleased that the Scientific American editors have dedicated some space for a rebuttal.... Any approved sprays must either be produced from a natural substance or, if they are synthetic, must be proven to "not have adverse effects on the environment" or "human health."... She writes: "Why the government isn't keeping a watch on organic pesticide and fungicide is a damn good question." Well, actually, the government is -- through the highly detailed rules regarding organic certification.5 Farmers hoping to be certified as organic must keep records covering the "production, harvesting, and handling" of their crops -- and maintain those records (including receipts for purchases of any off-farm inputs like sprays) for at least five years. Organic growers also submit to an annual on-site inspection from an organic certifier. Yes, the certifiers are independent, non-government agencies, but the level of scrutiny is intense. No, the government doesn't record the use of non-synthetic pesticides on organic farms. And neither does it record the use of synthetic pesticides on individual industrial farms. A national law, FIFRA (the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act), expressly forbids the EPA from requiring pesticide applicators to report how they use synthetic chemicals6. The only information the federal government collects on pesticide usage is at the aggregate level.... Still, given the demands of yearly on-site inspections, it's fair to say that organic-certified farmers, ranchers, and processors are the most highly regulated sector of the US food system and consent to far more oversight than any industrial farmer.... It would make more sense, then, to reverse Wilcox’s question: Why the government requires far less reporting on the production methods of industrial farmers than it does reporting from organic farmers is a damn good question. The burden of proof seems askew.
[Read more stories about: corporate farming, herbicide runoff, pesticide runoff, fertilizer runoff]

Your Quips:
Byron says: "We know conventional agriculture is suicidal. We're still trying to figure out what organic agriculture might be."
anarchaosos says: "Any article with 23 footnotes must be trustworthy! Atrazine-Induced Hermaphroditism FTW!"

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'Doc Michael says:
What a silly question. Destructive agriculture is normal, after all.

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