I was bombarded by radio ads today, letting me know what I NEED to do to ensure a healthy weed-free lawn this year. It’s simple – just apply good Irish fertilizer+pesticide 4 times between spring and fall. If a weed happens to be diligent enough to escape, take care of it with a quick spray of a good Irish weed touch-up product.
I manufacturer organic plant products for a living and am very conscious of the harm we are doing to the environment with our continuously expanding use of chemicals. In the middle of this constant weed-free lawn message, I decided to check out the organic section of a big-box store and this is the first thing I saw as I entered.
This aisle (50′ long and 8′ tall) is entirely filled with pesticides intended to kill ants, weeds, spiders, fungus, moths, roaches, etc. – anything in our home environment that we don’t want. The typical label indicated that the product was effective on 50-100 different species.
There are a lot of things about these two experiences today that I find disturbing.
- The companies that manufacturer these pesticides do not have a clue what impact their products have on a majority of unintended targets, i.e., all of the other microbiology, insects and wildlife that share the target’s environment. The EPA requires a very limited number of non-target species to be tested for effect (EPA Pesticide Programs 40 CFR). A study I read a year or two ago estimated that less than 1% of pesticides applied reach the targeted pest.
- No one is responsible for measuring the synergistic impact of these products on human health much less any environmental aspect, i.e., who tests the effect of using product 1 and 2 in the same environment? no one.
- Do Americans really believe that we can continue to use these poisons in these amounts everywhere in our environment without any adverse effects?
Garden stores carry these pesticide products because their customers buy them. Many consumers buy these products because they believe that ‘they must be safe since they are on the shelf’ (DDT was on the shelf for 45 years until 1972).
By the way, the organic section of the garden center? One shelf, 8′ long…