1. Missed the live Ask the Expert event?
    Catch up on the conversation about fertilization strategies for success with the experts at Koch Turf & Ornamental in the Fertilizer Application forum.

    Dismiss Notice

Ready for a challenge???

Discussion in 'Organic Lawn Care' started by Neal Wolbert, Sep 9, 2006.

  1. Neal Wolbert

    Neal Wolbert LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 407

    I thought the following article might be worthy for all of us to consider. Your thoughts?

    Why we must all give up organic in 2006: How fertilizers changed the
    > world JOE FATTORINI, The Herald, Glasgow, Scotland
    > It's self-indulgent, wasteful and frankly immoral. But you know how it
    > is. I was swept along with the trend, and it felt good at the time.
    > But I don't want to be a hypocrite. So I'm giving up organic food in 2006.
    > The incident that stiffened my resolve was a white rubber-banded wrist
    > thrusting across me to grab organic apples. Here was someone who
    > professed solidarity with the world's hungry. Yet they support a
    > farming method that would starve over half the world.
    > The world was farmed entirely organically as recently as 1900. Since
    > then the global population has increased over 3.5 times.
    > Unfortunately, the area cultivated for food has merely doubled. Even
    > so, collectively we're better fed. In the past 50 years, the number
    > who are starving has halved as the population has doubled. This almost
    > miraculous turn of events is down to nitrogen fertilizers.
    > When it comes to basic needs such as food, the most important
    > development of the last century has been the creation of nitrogen
    > fertilizers. By replacing the nitrogen lost when a crop is harvested
    > you can continue to plant the same plot of land each year without
    > losing productivity. This means the same area of land produces anything up to double the quantity of food.
    > It's certainly true that nitrogen fertilizers aren't without their problems.
    > Nitrates in water and the eutrophication of lakes are both significant
    > problems. But let's just imagine what would happen without them. Let's
    > farm the current 1.5 billion hectares of farmland organically. A rough
    > estimate suggests that we could sustain a global population of around
    > 2.4 billion. Do you want to be responsible for telling 3.6 billion
    > people that there's no food because you don't like "synthetic"
    > fertilizers? You're not telling them that nitrogen fertilizers are
    > actually that bad for them or anything. Just that you want a more
    > "natural" diet. More in touch with nature. Well, they'll be in touch with nature all right. Under about six feet of it.
    > Perhaps I'm being too harsh. Let's assume that we can increase the
    > land we farm on. That's not without its problems. This year we are set
    > to destroy some 25,000 sq km of Brazilian rainforest, but that will
    > have to increase dramatically. And forget western luxuries such as
    > national parks, or indeed, parks. Even if we managed to double the
    > world's farmland and maintained productivity in increasingly marginal
    > areas (like the Cairngorms), we're still short. That's still 200
    > million dead people. Just because the Soil Association tells us that synthetic fertilizers are wrong.
    > So I know what you're thinking. "Yes, but I don't want to feed the
    > world organically. Just my precious family." I'm sorry, but that's
    > rather along the same lines as: "I know they guzzle petrol like
    > there's no tomorrow and are far more likely to kill pedestrians. But
    > my family is special. I really need a beast of an SUV with spinning
    > alloy wheels and DVD players in the headrests."
    > At the very least, in a country like ours that produces excess food,
    > organic farming robs land that might otherwise be used to promote bio-diversity.
    > That's because organic fields need to be left fallow, growing
    > leguminous crops or livestock whose feces can be used to return nitrogen to the soil.
    > Yes, you read that correctly. The inefficiencies of organic land use
    > make it less environmentally friendly than conventional farming whose
    > efficiencies mean we can return land to nature. But there's a more sinister perspective.
    > In our lifetime we'll see global population top 10 billion. We're
    > lucky it won't be more.
    > That alone means finding 35% more calories to feed the world. On
    > decreasingly fertile land. But if we are self-indulgently to insist
    > that we are so important that we should be fed organically, with its
    > yields some 20% to 50% lower, that can only put an additional,
    > unnecessary strain on feeding the planet. Every organic mouthful makes
    > it more difficult to feed the most vulnerable. As the distinguished Indian plant biologist CS Prakash put it:
    > "The only thing sustainable about organic farming in the developing
    > world is that it sustains poverty and malnutrition."
    > Now if this all makes you feel a little gloomy, then I'm delighted to
    > report that like all the best resolutions, giving up organic food
    > makes you feel better almost immediately. I already feel freed from
    > the hypocrisy. Organic food sales have doubled since 2000. According
    > to Mintel the greatest growth is currently among "lower-income
    > consumers" and those concerned about the health impact of pesticide use in conventional farming.
    > But wait a minute. Organic food - because it's so inefficient to
    > produce - is considerably more expensive than conventionally farmed
    > food. Yet it brings no health benefits and doesn't even taste better.
    > If it did, then the Advertising Standards Authority wouldn't have
    > upheld complaints against the Soil Association for describing organic
    > as "healthier" than conventionally farmed food. Or as the Food
    > Standards Agency put it in 2004: "Organic food is not significantly
    > different in terms of food safety and nutrition from food produced conventionally."
    > Sir John Krebs of the FSA has noted: "A single cup of coffee contains
    > natural carcinogens equal to at least a year's worth of carcinogenic
    > residues in the diet." Yet we're tacitly encouraging the nation's poor
    > to spend cash on this indulgence. Consider Sir John again: "Dietary
    > contributions to cardiovascular disease and to cancer... probably
    > account for more than 100,000 deaths per year in Britain. Food
    > poisoning probably accounts for between 50 and 300... pesticides in
    > food, as well as GM food, are not responsible for any deaths."
    > Wouldn't we be rather better encouraging Scotland's poor to eat more
    > cheaper, conventionally farmed fruit and vegetable, and cut Scotland's
    > disproportionately high share of the 100,000 deaths, than worrying
    > about the non-existent risk posed by pesticides?
    > And it seems tests that purport to show organic food as tastier simply
    > show it as fresher or less intensively farmed. Local produce, farmed
    > for quality, using conventional methods appears to be as tasty and
    > often more so. The quality of lower-income household diets has a
    > direct impact on the health and vigour of the nation. Yet we delight
    > that the nation's poor are increasingly spending money they don't need to on a middle-class indulgence.
    > This is no better than the parents who splash out on home cinemas and
    > games consoles for themselves, leaving scant money to spend bringing
    > up their children properly.
    > I can see a few hackles rising at the suggestion that organic food is
    > a "middle-class indulgence". And you're right. It's more a brand, or
    > perhaps a religion. "Organic" sits up there with McDonald's,
    > Microsoft, Starbucks, Tesco, Shell and Lucky Strike as one of the
    > great brands of the twentieth century. A delicious study asked people
    > their views on "carbon-based farming technology" that produced food
    > with no demonstrable health or environmental benefits, and was sold at
    > a premium to the public. By replacing the word "organic" it seems the public's passion for this bourgeois fad waned.
    > As for a religion: well, perhaps I'm being naughty. But Patrick Holden
    > of the Soil Association has insisted that you can't test the benefits
    > of organic farming scientifically because organic farming is
    > "holistic, integrated and [represents] joined-up thinking".
    > Apparently, "holistic science strays into territory where the current
    > tools of understanding that are available to the scientific community
    > are not sufficiently well developed to measure what's going on".
    > Many people defend religious faith in exactly the same way. It seems
    > if the benefits of organic farming appear as non-existent as the
    > Emperor's New Clothes, we're just not looking hard enough. In a
    > wonderfully circular argument, the fact we can't find evidence of the
    > benefits of organic farming is merely evidence of the shortcomings of
    > science. And presumably will remain so until we can see benefits, even if that never comes to pass.
    > Many years ago I was taught that you shouldn't confine yourself simply
    > to giving things up. That positive resolutions were important, too. So
    > here's
    > mine: In 2006 I shall tuck into food made more productively and at a
    > lower cost than organic and regular conventional agriculture. A food
    > whose production increases biodiversity in fields and lowers pesticide
    > use. A food enjoyed every day by 280 million Americans and indeed much
    > of the livestock that we eat. A food that has brought nothing but
    > health benefits to those who enjoy it. That's right. Call it what you
    > will. Genetically Modified, GM, transgenic. I just like to think of it
    > as safer, more productive, kinder to its local environment, and kinder
    > to the globe. That's what I call good food.
  2. chaz

    chaz LawnSite Member
    Messages: 13

    and we wonder why our country has so much cancer.
  3. Neal Wolbert

    Neal Wolbert LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 407

    Got some data supporting your statement?
  4. livingsoils

    livingsoils LawnSite Member
    Messages: 97

    Yes, I agree we could not feed our world organically and I do look at the organic food trend as the new mass marketing for large corporations. But our society has changed and people want to feel good about what they eat. I wonder how many people have gardens in their backyard? Probably not many! :confused: Back in the day I remember almost everyone having a garden in their backyard. Now you don't see any. People want to have their Veggies without the work of weeding, peeling or sweating over a stove to can their harvest. People want immediate gratification and they will pay for the "organic" name.
    I think we have to look at it at a more local level to be more successfully; buy local, CSA's and support local companies.
    We also have to be more responsible for our little 1/2 acre lot. If people were more responsible at a local level by not putting excessive nitrogen on their lawn to keep it geen and spraying a bunch of unnecessary pesticides to keep their lawn pristine our waterways would not be in trouble.
    I think we have to look at homeowners and educate them not the farmers.
    Homeowners are more of a problem to our envronement than our farming practices.

  5. muddstopper

    muddstopper LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,341

    I think before pasting jusdment on organic farming, one must first look at where all the organic materials are ending up. Huge mountains of trash are being hualled off each day and then buried in landflieds in somebodies back yard. Every peice of garbage is a organic nutrient in one form of other. Ask yourselfs why are our soils being so depleted of organic matter and the answer is staring you right in the eye. As wasteful as the whole worlds populations are, we as a socitey continue to squander our valuable resources. For centuries, all materials where redistributed across the globe. When a tree shed it leaves, the leaves return to the earth the nutrients it had consumed. Animals deposited their waste on the ground where it is consumed by microorganisms and the nutrients redistributed thruout the biosphere. It is only man that takes organic material from the soil and then buries it in large landfields where other forms of life can no longer reuse the valuable nutients our waste contain. All life forms are carbonbased and rely on the nutrient and mineral content of the earth to survive. The use of fertilizers hasnt resulted in more healthy foods, all one has to do is look at the number of people that visit the doctors offices to see that human health is suffering. Sure there are more people now than every before, some suggest that there are more people now than in all of history combined. As those people die, are the nutrients that are contined in thier bodies being recycled back into the soil, no, they are placed in coffins and then placed in metal vaults to insure that their decomposeing bodies donot return to the soil. Man is mining the soil of its valuable nutrients and then placing those nutrients in storage facilites that mother nature didnt intend for them to be placed. This practice as well as the burieng of our garbage is resulting in a depletion of valuable nutrients in all of our crop lands, all over the world. Chemical companies, in an attempt to replace nutrients lost are now mining the soils with heavy construction equipment. They then process those nutrients into more usable forms for application to our croplands. This is possible thru science, but advertising and selling of products has taken the first spot in the list of prioties companies place on soil fertility. More often than not, a fertilizer company will promote a product based on how much of that product they have to sell and not on the amounts the consumer needs to apply. For this reason, most everybody, including the organic minded consumers, tend to apply products they dont need, or in amounts that are not productive or even counter productive to a balanced soil ecology. Replacing valuable nutrients is now becomeing a major expense to large farming companies, they are spending billions of dollars each year to restore the fertility levels in their soil. the approach is calling for much more materials to be applied than just simple NPK fertilizers. In every Farm where the mico nutrients are being reestablished, crop production continues to clime. The overall quality of the crops has increased, and the need for large pesticide applications has decreased. Where best management practices are used, soil erosion has been reduced, meaning more of our soils are staying where they belong. There have been less reports of chemical contaminations to our lakes and streams as well as ground water. And the soil humis levels have increased. To simply forget organics and rely on chemical fertilizers without understanding the impact the chemical can have on our enviroment is folly, but so is just dumping a bunch of compost on a garden and thinking you are eating safer.
  6. cedarcroft

    cedarcroft LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 442

    I agree. I would rather buy a locally grown tomato than an organically grown tomato from bolivia or california, regardless of how it is grown. however, I feel very strongly about the overuse of lawn chemicals and pesticides in suburban areas. it is unnessacary and abusive, not to mention potentially harmful. if we can apply intelligent cultural practices and natural products in an effective manner that strengthens our plants and lawns we can radically reduce the need for pesticides, herbicides and other chemicals in suburban areas. step by step we can get these areas closer to their natural state. there is alot more suburban blight in the northeast than farms, so it is a huge step in the right direction.
  7. Prolawnservice

    Prolawnservice LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 612

    Global Cancer Statistics, 2002

    ATLANTA 2005/03/10 -A new report on global cancer trends finds men and women in North America have the highest cancer incidence worldwide, and that lung cancer is the main cancer in the world today. The study comes from researchers at the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in Lyon, France, and appears in the March/April issue of CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.
    The study is the latest in a series that began reporting on the global cancer burden in 1975. The new report emphasizes three major measures: incidence (number of new cases), mortality (number of deaths), and prevalence (number of persons alive with the disease), and addresses 26 types of cancer.

    Based on available data, the study estimates that in 2002 there were 10.9 million new cases of cancer worldwide, 6.7 million deaths, and 24.6 million persons who had been diagnosed with cancer in the previous five years. Because data collection typically takes several years, (especially in developing countries), these are the most current estimates available. The report also details specific estimates by such factors as age group, sex, country, economic profile (developed versus developing), and cancer type:

    --China has 20 percent of the world's total of new cancer cases (2.2 million)

    --The 1.6 million cancers in North America account for 14.5 percent of the world's total

    --For both men and women, the risk of being diagnosed with cancer is highest in North America

    --The risk of dying of cancer is highest in Eastern European men and in women in Northern Europe

    --In general, survival rates are better in developed countries, with the exception of Eastern Europe, which lags behind that in South America for most sites

    --Lung cancer has been the most common cancer worldwide since 1985, and by 2002 accounted for 1.35 million new cases (12.4 percent of world total) and 1.18 million deaths (17.6 percent of world total)

    --Just over half (50.1 percent) of lung cancer cases occur in developed countries, a significant change since 1980, when 69 percent were in developed countries

    --The highest lung cancer rates occur in North American and European (especially Eastern Europe) men

    --Although it is the most frequent cancer in men worldwide, lung cancer is second to prostate cancer in incidence in developed countries

    --Breast cancer is by far the most frequent cancer of women, accounting for 23 percent of all cancers. Rates are highest in North America

    --Because of its high incidence and relatively good prognosis, breast cancer is the most prevalent cancer in the world, with an estimated 4.4 million women alive who have had the disease diagnosed within the last 5 years, compared to 1.4 million survivors men and women from lung cancer

    The researchers say one striking feature of their results is the fact that, contrary to conventional wisdom, cancer is not a rare disease in developing countries. "Indeed, if viewed in terms of mortality, there is little difference," they say, noting that the chance of a man dying from cancer before age 65 is just 18 percent higher in developed countries, whereas for women in developing countries this risk is actually higher than in the developed world.

    Parkin DM, Bray F, Ferlay J, Pisani P Global Cancer Statistics, 2002. CA Cancer J Clin 2005;55;74-108.

    CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians is a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society providing cancer care professionals with up-to-date information on all aspects of cancer diagnosis, treatment, and prevention. Published six times per year, CA is the most widely circulated oncology journal in the world, mailing to approximately 90,000 individuals, including primary care physicians; medical, surgical, and radiation oncologists; nurses; other health care and public health professionals; and students in various health care fields. CA is published for the American Cancer Society by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

    David Sampson
    Director, Media Relations
    American Cancer Society
    213 368-8523
  8. Neal Wolbert

    Neal Wolbert LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 407

    If I'm reading the 2006 report right the most recent stats by the American Cancer Society show a general decline in the incidents of cancer per 100,000 people with the exception of a spike in lung cancer in the early 90's. Even that has taken a marked turn for the better in recent years. Am I reading the charts right or am I missing something? www.cancer.com

  9. upidstay

    upidstay LawnSite Bronze Member
    from CT
    Messages: 1,575

    Regarding tracking cancer rates:
    How do they track it? Most of your 3rd world countries have no organized medical systems. We get diagnosed with cancer more her in the USA because we have hospitals and doctors to diagnose it. Hit the back woods of China, Cental America, Africa, and who knows what they are dying of?? No doctors, no diagnosis, no data. If there are no doctors in, say Chad who know how to diagnose Leukemia, then there ill be 0 cases.
  10. muddstopper

    muddstopper LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,341

    Maybe someone can shed some lite on the rate of heart disease, which might be a better indication of the nutritional value of organic foods verses the chemically grown foods.

Share This Page