Organic Pesticides: Not An Oxymoron

It may seem counterintuitive, but foods that are grown to organic standards can contain commercially manufactured pesticides.

A U.S. Department of Agriculture survey of produce that found nearly 20 percent of organic lettuce tested positive for pesticide residues piqued our interest. Lots of the lettuce contained quite a bit of spinosad, a pesticide marketed by Dow Chemical under the brand name Entrust.

So we called Jeff Gillman, a professor of nursery management at the University of Minnesota, who has written about organic practices for lay readers. Right off the bat he told us:

When people are buying organic food, they often make the incorrect assumption that there are no pesticides. It’s true that organic production often uses fewer dangerous chemicals, but certain pesticides are allowed.

It turns out that a key factor in chemicals being cleared for use on organic crops is whether they occur naturally. Spinosad, for example, comes from the soil bacterium Saccharopolyspora spinosa. It can fatally scramble the nervous systems of insects. It’s also poisonous to mollusks.

Read the whole story at NPR.com

Author: Kevin Mulligan

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