Dave’s Hippy Oil understands that ‘conventional agriculture’ is damaging our environment. Healthy soil is made up of a symbiotic relationships with everything around, above, and below it, and when this relationship is altered through chemical means, the plants ability to absorb and distribute nutrients is damaged and the majority of beneficial organisms in the soil perish.
We have learnt that The birth of industrial agriculture more or less coincides with that of the Industrial Revolution. The identification of nitrogen,potassium, and phosphorus (referred to by the acronym NPK) let to the claim that they are the only three elements necessary to grow crops. Thanks to The Haber-Bosch process which was developed in 1909 the industrial scale production of synthetic anhydrous ammonia (NH3) became possible.
NH3 is the basis for all synthetic nitrogen fertilizers as well as munitions used in warfare.
The source of hydrogen for the process is natural gas, a non-renewable resource that currently accounts for up to 90 percent of the cost of fertilizer production. In the conventional system, our very ability to feed ourselves is dependent upon a non-renewable fossil fuel.
Synthetic fertilizers became popular in the U.S. after World War II when the leftover stocks of ammonium nitrate munitions started being marketed for agricultural use. Our food system started being ‘fed’ the same chemicals were first developed to KILL people!
The widespread adoption of synthetic fertilizer and associated agricultural practices has had plenty of unintended negative consequences to our environment, to the quality of our foods, and to the sustainability of our food system. We believe ‘conventional’ agriculture became the leading system because of the joint efforts of The Rockefeller Foundation and the Ford Foundation. ‘conventional’ agriculture is a system which at it’s core NEEDS petroleum to function. From fertilizers and gasoline for the giant tractors and other farm equipment. It’s also worth mentioning that some of the biggest chemical companies in the world are also creating some of the most damaging Genetically Modified Organisms
So… synthetic fertilization doesn’t create organic matter, little is absorbed by the plant and too much becomes chemical run off, poisoning our waterways.
- Since heavy use of synthetic fertilizers began in the 1940s, 4.7 billion acres of soil have been significantly degraded worldwide. Low soil fertility and high rates of erosion lead to poor crop yields, land abandonment, and deforestation.
- Plants fed synthetic fertilizers decline the surrounding soil quality resulting in plants having weak root systems – making them vulnerable to drought and disease, requiring increased irrigation and application of pesticides.
- Over time, synthetically fertilized soil deteriorates and compacts, losing its spongy, absorptive qualities. This leads to erosion and promotes rapid runoff. Instead of slowly absorbing into the soil and plant roots, water runs across “hardpan” soil and away, carrying more inputs into waterways in turn. So synthetic fertilizers pollute land and water and create an increasing cycle of dependence. Perfect if you want to sell petroleum products.
- Since 1945, total U.S. crop losses from insect damage have nearly doubled. During the same time, insecticide use has increased tenfold. Today, seventy-one known carcinogenic pesticides are sprayed on food crops. (In Harmony’s report, “Pesticides: Losing Their Effectiveness”)
- EPA estimates that there are approximately 20,000 physician diagnosed pesticide poisonings each year among agricultural workers. These are only the ones which have been reported.
- Pound for pound, children absorb a higher concentration of pesticides and herbicides than adults.
- According to the U.S. General Accounting Office, only 1% of all imported fruits and vegetables are tested by the Food and Drug Administration for illegal pesticide residues.
- The CDC has gone on record as stating… “Pesticides are toxic to life forms by their very design”
- The Sierra Club of Canada’s website says “But mostly, pesticide use is associated with two things: toxicity in the environment and causing human health problems.”and claims “Linkages have also been identified between home and garden pesticide use and leukemia and brain cancer in children. A National Cancer Institute study in the U.S. indicates that children are as much as six times more likely to get childhood leukemia when pesticides are used in the home and garden.”
In addition to the environmental harm caused by the production of pesticides, pesticide use itself has elicited worry among UC Berkeley researchers. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Tyrone Hayes, Professor of Integrative Biology at UC Berkeley, discovered that a widely used synthetic herbicide called Atrazine caused male frogs to exhibit female biological characteristics when exposed to levels deemed safe by the US Environmental Protection Agency. The controversial debate surrounding the use of Atrazine continues, with Hayes at its center (see “Murky Waters,” BSR Spring 2011), standing as a testament to the complicated relationship between agriculture and ecology.
We need to remind ourselves that when we do not choose organic, we are assuming a risk to ourselves, our communities, and the farmers who produce the very food we rely on for our survival. Through a process known as bioaccumulation. The plants we depend on can become poisoned with the synthetic ingredients we spray on and around them, and as a result we get unwanted doses of heavy metals and other things you don’t want in your body!
Cites and some Links for Organic and Pesticide Free Resources