Re: QUESTION: Need information on growing cotton organically.
Charles Benbrook (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Wed, 2 Nov 1994 21:01:36 -0800
Respone to Man from Monsanto --
You urge people on SANET to stick to fact, not fiction. Interesting
comment coming from Monsanto.
In response to your assertions -- the Env. Working Group report was
peer reviewed (see Acknowledgements page, if you have a copy).
You say farmers are using less pesticides. This is true measured
by volume, but not true measured by acres treated. As anyone in the
herbicide market knows, the newer products are more weed and soil and
timing specific, and more actives
have to be applied, and there are clearly more acre treatments. The real
issue is are farmers less dependent on chemicals -- some are, most
are not. I agree the average toxicity per acre treatment has gone
down somewhat from 10 years ago, but remains high based on any realistic,
science based comparison to other public health risks. Of course, all
risk assessment science may be wrong and all public policy re low level
exposures to chronic toxicants.
The EWG report carried out the most extensive and sophisticated
exposure assessment for pesticides in surface water/drinking water. The
Monsanto herbicide Lasso (alachlor) is basically the second worst in terms of risk
behind atrazine. In time, Monsanto's new product, acetachlor, will
no doubt gain market (and risk) share, so exposure to both alachlor and meth-
ochlor will come down a little.
I have spoken with many farmers/experts from across the midwest
in last few months. Most complain or remark upon the poor weed control
this year in fields treated with the newer products. The highly active
herbicides can work great when conditions are optimal and when applied
correctly, but they are not very forgiving. Farmers like atrazine abd
alachlor because they can just spray it on any old which way and it/they
will generally work pretty well. Not so the new products.
The challenge in controlling weeds without excessive costs, risks,
or burden on the environment is to a dynamic one. Ten years from
now there will be a very different mix of practices/products, with non-chemical app
approaches no doubt carrying a heavier share of the burden. There will
remain a place for Monsanto products, but a different place. Getting from
here to there is not going to be pretty.