By Fredrica Syren:
Organic crops are being sprayed with pesticides. Now what is wrong with this sentence? Yes, usually “pesticides” and “organic” do not go hand in hand. As a matter of fact, if you grow organic food, pesticide should never be considered. That’s what organic food growers in California are saying as they fight a proposed California pest management program that will include compulsory pesticide spraying of organic crops at the state’s discretion.
This program is a planned response to the issue of pests like fruit flies, weevils, beetles, fungus or blight that are threatening crops. The pest in question this time is a disease-carrying pest that attacks citrus trees and already has caused billions of dollars in damage in both Florida and Texas. So far, there has been no sign of an outbreak of the disease in California’s $2.4 billion citrus industry.
The pesticide used to fight it is called neonicotinoid, which is linked to a decline of crop-pollinating bees. This controversial pesticide is completely banned by the Europe Union. Many scientific studies have been done on this particular pesticide’s effect on bees, and most agree the results raise serious questions about the use of the pesticides. California Certified Organic Farmers encourage the state to consider using nontoxic alternatives like long-term methods to strengthen crops and habitats to fight tropical species.
California’s organic farmers do have a good reason to be concerned, as organic food is a thriving business, reporting double-digit growth in U.S. sales each year. California is a leader in the nation’s organic sales, responsible for one-third of the U.S. organic food industry.
The California Department of Food and Agriculture’s pest-management plan says that organic farmers can sell sprayed crops as nonorganic instead and would, therefore, limit their financial loss in case of a compulsory state pesticide spraying of organic crops. Many of the organic farmers, however, claim they would rather stop farming than sell conventional crops.