Filed Under: Organic Activists

Pesticides Are Pesticides, Even if They’re “Organic”

After the recent Stanford analysis finding that organic foods are not more nutritious than “conventional” foods, the refrain from the organic crowd was cliché. The real benefits of organic, they said, was reducing pesticide exposure. It might come as a surprise to some readers, then, to learn that organic farmers also use pesticides. These pesticides just happen to be “certified organic.”

Don’t believe us? A writer goes into detail on a Scientific American blog, debunking the dual myths that organic food has no chemicals and that conventional produce is harmful. Suddenly, activists like the Environmental Working Group, who promote organics as a way to avoid chemicals, don’t look nearly as credible. (We’ll also note that a University of California-Davis study found, “Consumer exposures to the ten most frequently detected pesticides on EWG’s ‘Dirty Dozen’ commodity list are at negligible levels.”)

And “natural” doesn’t mean “non-toxic.” Many things are more “natural” and potentially harmful in sufficient quantities. The Scientific American author explains:

When I compared the organic chemicals copper sulfate and pyrethrum to the top synthetics, chlorpyrifos and chlorothalonil, I found that not only were the organic ones more acutely toxic, studies have found that they are more chronically toxic as well, and have higher negative impacts on non-target species.

Translation: organic pesticides are harmful in a sufficient dose. However, always remember that “the dose makes the poison.” As the author points out, scientists say, “Neither organic nor conventional food is dangerous to eat.”

Of course, that will be unpleasant news to the organic food community, which vehemently attacked Stanford University scientists who confirmed the long-standing scientific consensus that organic food is no more nutritious than conventionally produced food. There is a lot of money —organic food sales may total $30 billion — on the line, after all, and how many people will pay more if they realize that there’s little to no benefit?

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