Minnesota Farmer


Bump in the night

There are times I feel that many people in this world have never grown up, they are still scared of things that go bump in the night.

Now I admit that the desire for self preservation is a good thing.  But there are times that we are afraid of things that have such a small chance of coming true that it is just plain disgusting.  Being involved in agricultural issues on the internet I see so many of those baseless concerns.  Where do they come from?  Most can be laid at the feet of attention hungry people, people who just want to be noticed and use loud voices to cover up their lack of facts.

The shocking truth isimagesif someone is telling you a story using words like shocking, there is most likely one chance in a billion you would be injured.  Case in point: The environmental Working Groups “Dirty Dozen List” a list of fruits and veggies that you should not eat because they contain pesticides residues.  So how bad are those fruits and veggies?2012 PDPAccording to the USDA, not at all bad.  47.4% of fruits and veggies tested had no detections at all and 52.07% had detections below tolerance levels.  The remaining .53% were only marginally above the already low tolerance levels set by the USDA.  You would have to eat tons more of these fruits and veggies everyday, and you still would not ingest enough to reach a dangerous level.  The USDA says that our nations farmers get an A+ for producing food for consumers with little or no pesticides in them.  Similar, low level residues are found on organic crops.  In a recent pesticide residue study in Canada, synthetic pesticide residues were detected on more than 40% of organic produce.  Similar results have been seen for organic in the US in the past. Again, these sorts of very low level detections for organic or non-organic crops reflect mainly the sensitivity of analytical lab methods – not any real risk to consumers.

Yes, you can find pesticides in organic crops, and no, they are not all from pesticide drift from non-organic crops or use of illegal pesticides on organics.  Some of those pesticides are naturally there, produced by the food crop.  These plants have developed natural toxins to prevent being eaten.  Those who eat these foods have also developed a tolerance for these toxins.

So there is your bump in the night, and it is a natural bump that will not hurt you.  So the next time someone tells you of a shocking new thing that is going to kill you if you use it, check the facts.  The loudest voices are not going to be the ones you need to listen to.  Get into the details and you will usually find that the bump is a soft plush toy falling out of your bed, not a monster coming to get you.

Michael

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