Last weekend I got up early to do Yoga as I generally do. As I was waking I heard an airplane outside that didn’t stop; it wasn’t just flying by. Looking out the window, I saw a small spray plane dropping its load on a nearby field crop. The fly-bys went on for a while. It was a beautiful morning, sunny, and very little breeze. No doubt optimal conditions for spraying. I grew up in an agricultural area in eastern Washington state – I’m familiar with crop dusting history, I’ve had relatives who flew the planes. Consciousness of the ramifications of the activity now weigh heavily.
Mercola posted an article titled “The Real World Challenge of Surviving in a World Swimming in Pesticides.” This was after I had a conversation with our builder and friend, Andy Stark, about things our immune systems might be attempting to field these days. We remembered Rachel Carson and Silent Spring, pictures of kids gleefully running after 2-4D spray vehicles, and other such visions. I wondered, as the Mercola article discussed, how we might take care of ourselves in our current environment.
Yesterday, I heard from my 40 year old daughter (who successfully fielded breast cancer 2 years ago) that two other young women friends of hers were diagnosed with the disease. News like this dislodges my equanimity – it knocks me off my emotional horse – then I get back on, and wonder what action can be taken.
Mercola suggests eating organic foods – which is a very good idea under any circumstances. He asks the question “Can Food System Survive Without Pesticides?” I am inclined to say yes, but many, I know, would question this. Here’s what Mercola says:
Many have gotten so used to the idea that pesticides are a necessity they give little credence to the idea that chemicals are notactually needed. As reported by Ensia, a magazine showcasing solutions to the Earth’s biggest environmental challenges:28
“‘How much is too much?’ is a question with which Jules Pretty, a professor at the University of Essex in the United Kingdom, is constantly grappling. What’s encouraging is the growing evidence that farmers can lower their dependence on pesticides while maintaining agricultural production, sometimes by employing techniques that date back thousands of years.29
Over the past 25 years, Pretty has been studying sustainable agriculture practices30 around the world. He has shown that there’s growing proof that integrated pest management (IPM) — a strategy that uses alternative, diversified and historic agronomic practices to control pests — can help reduce pesticide use in a variety of farming systems.
In 2015, Pretty and colleagues published a meta-analysis31 of 85 field sites in 24 countries in Asia and Africa that employed IPM techniques and reduced pesticide use while boosting crop yields. Some eliminated pesticides entirely by using techniques such as crop rotation and pheromone traps to capture pests, says Pretty.
‘Thirty percent of the crop systems were able to transition to zero pesticides,’ Pretty says. Not only that, but surprisingly, he says, ‘the innovations around sustainability are happening in the poorer countries: Bangladesh, India and countries in Africa. We really could be holding these up as beacons.'”
According to Pretty, a key strategy to lower dependence on pesticides is “farmer field schools,” which allow farmers to experiment with various techniques and see the results for themselves. This has already proven far more effective than trying to persuade or force farmers to alter their techniques.
Once they’ve seen the results with their own eyes, most are more than willing to implement pesticide-free methods, and to share their experience with others. He’s convinced that “if enough farmers in enough developing countries can become convinced of the benefits of sustainable farming practices like IPM, the world’s reliance on pesticides can be lowered,” Ensia writes.
Everyone is at risk from pesticide use, but women most particularly. Mercola also writes: “Glyphosate Drives Breast Cancer Proliferation…” Pesticides, herbicides, and other toxic substances tend to be held in fat and fatty (adipose) tissue. The suggestion to be particularly vigilant to eat organic meats and dairy products comes from this same point – toxins sequestered in fats.
Look at the Pesticide Action Network (PAN). You can check out the viability of the organization and its rating at the Charity Navigator here. PAN spends 87.9% of its funds on its programs and services. It has suggestions for action, as well as other information.