What do you think of this statement?

MapleLeafMamaJuly 27, 2005

I posted a question looking for organic products on a local nursery forum. The owner responded with this comment.

I understand that not everything that says organic is healthy, or necessarily safe. But that some organic things are more TOXIC than synthetic pesticides???

What do you think about this??


Here is his answer:

---Keep in mind that fertilizer products like the ones you are looking for are the easiest ones to find. Keeping the bugs off with organic products will be a greater issue since many organic products are more toxic and residual than their synthetic counterparts.

Always remember that organic=safe is NOT an accurate statement!----

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Everything considered, the statement is correct. I would argue only with the modifiers, like easiest, greater, more, etc.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2005 at 4:24PM
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habitat_gardener(z9 CA/Sunset15)

Welllll...since there are no specifics it's hard to say anything specific. There's no there there. Throwing out general statements, out of context, is disingenuous and paternalistic. Sure, you could find an "organic" product (strychnine) that is more toxic than a "synthetic" product (petroleum jelly). Even water and salt are not "safe" -- excess amounts of either one can kill a person. But if you were talking about solving a specific problem and considering the whole system, then the differences would be clear-cut.

The only thing you can learn from this nursery owner is whom not to ask about organic practices.

The nursery owner does not seem to understand organic gardening, where the goal is to work with the natural cycles and minimize (not eliminate at any cost) pests and diseases -- and to know the difference between beneficials and pests, not to simply "keep the bugs off"!

In my organic garden, often the answer is not a "product" but a process -- a matter of timing and techniques and knowledge. I see organic gardening as a way to work smarter and more efficiently. (How's that for a general statement?)

    Bookmark   July 27, 2005 at 5:03PM
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Ask him/her to give names of some of the many organic products that are more toxic and residual than their synthetic counterparts.

I agree with habitat_gardener. I've heard that sort of statement before. IMO and IME it is intended to bring an end to any further discussion. When asked for specifics, the one who made the statement will be at a loss to come up with a good answer. Organic gardeners don't use even a riskier pesticide like rotenone in the same manner a chemicalist uses a 'cide.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2005 at 7:00AM
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TracieWho(z7 WA)

I agree with that statement completely. Tobacco is organic, used in the right way it can be beneficial. But used in other ways (such as smoking) it is a killer. Even synthetics have to be made out of something; we have yet to create anything out of air.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2005 at 11:54AM
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michaelg(7a NC Mts)

I think the claim of "more persistent" is wrong. I can't think of any insecticide considered organic that is persistently toxic. It is true that nicotine sulfate concentrate is one of the most toxic substances sold for insect control. Rotenone has been associated with chronic neurological problems and is no longer used by knowledgeable organic gardeners. Among fungicides considered organic, copper is persistent but is harmless or beneficial in small concentrations (except to aquatic life). Copper should be handled carefully, since if excessive amounts are ingested or inhaled, it can accumulate in the body and cause liver damage.

Materials that are most commonly used, such as sulfur, baking soda, soap, oil, antitranspirants, and pyrethrins, are clearly safer for the gardener and the environment than most of the synthetic alternatives.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2005 at 1:57PM
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Always remember that organic=safe is NOT an accurate statement

In general, I agree with the statement above. The fact that any concentrated compound or solution  organic or inorganic  tends to be very toxic, and need to handle with care.

But, organic matters in general, decay/decompose more readily than synthetic products. So saying "Keeping the bugs off with organic products will be a greater issue since many organic products are more toxic and residual than their synthetic counterparts" is not true. And pest management using organic approach is more effective long term via biocontrol method than reaching for a spray bottle of lesser toxic materials. The law of economic "Supply and Demand" applies well in nature. As pest population rises, the beneficial (insects et al.) population will rise, and vice versa. And this keeps the equilibrium of all critters in the gardens. For foreign pests such as JB which doesnÂt have many natural predators, intervention like milky spores is necessary.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2005 at 3:17PM
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merrall(z5 VT)

If you're talking about organic products, its pretty much true. copper is copper, and its not going to break down into anything else. Bordeux mixture ( which I've seen mentioned in many threads) is pretty darn toxic- same with nicotine. while synthetic fungicides are pretty bad news, I'm sure the argument could be made that some are better for your soil ecology than adding more and more copper every year.
on the toxicity front
ld50 of bordeaux mixture is 300 (mg/kg)
ld50 of triforene (ortho rose pride)16000 mg/kg

ld50 is the dose necessary to kill 50% of the test population (in this case rats)

this isn't to say that synthetic pesticides are necessarily benign--just usually not rapidly lethal

    Bookmark   September 26, 2005 at 9:50PM
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