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November 23, 2009 – Pesticide use has increased in the United States. Yes, that’s right, I said increased. We’re spraying more poison on our food. Small amounts of that poison enter our bodies when we eat those foods. Small amounts of that poison enter our children’s bodies when they eat those foods. The best news of all? The poisons are getting stronger.

Before going further, allow me to relate what I suspect was a case of coming to grips with this very Frankenstein in my own front yard. This year’s crop of dandelions was nearly unprecedented. (One might say they grew like weeds ….) Since we try to treat our yard for them as infrequently as possible, we had a bumper crop. Our yard was a sea of yellow. Then a neighbor came calling, claiming to be speaking on behalf of other neighbors. The short and the long of it was the dandelions had to go.

Our front yard isn’t small – nearly half an acre. There could be no question of digging the dandelions up anywhere near as fast as the neighbors wanted to see results. We reluctantly headed to Home Depot. In discussing our dilemma with a salesperson, we found out that dandelions were plentiful all over. Not because people had stopped treating their yards, but because the usual herbicides were proving ineffective. He suggested we try a new product, one that claimed to be more powerful. Forty dollars poorer, we headed home.

It did the trick, all right. The dandelions shriveled in despair, acknowledging the superiority of the “new and improved” product. That is, most of them did. There are, of course, always a few. Those few – of course – went to seed at some point. Which means the much smaller crop of dandelions next year, which we won’t treat, will have inherited the herbicide resistance of those few plants. And THAT means that in three or four years we’ll have another bumper crop. Only this time, they’ll be even harder to kill.

Back to the rise in pesticide use here in the United States. Why has this happened? It seems, according to a report issued by The Organic Center and the Center for Food Safety, that the culprit is genetically modified (GM) crops. While pesticide use actually declined when GM crops were first introduced back in 1996, there were huge increases in pesticide application in 2007 and 2008. From 1996-1998, pesticide use fell 1 to 2 percent a year. By 2007, however, its use increased 20 percent, and in 2008, 27 percent. These are astronomical increases caused by the emergence of weeds resistant to Roundup.

I’m assuming you know what Roundup is. In the unlikely event you don’t, it’s a pesticide that was developed some years back by Monsanto. Monsanto then developed GM crops that are “Roundup Ready,” or RR. The substance that kills the weeds, glyphosate, has become very widely used – overused, actually. You know where I’m headed: weeds have developed resistance to glyphosate. I’m quoting now from the article in the Ecologist wherein I learned about this, which quotes from the report: “’A large portion of industry R&D investments are going into the development of crops that will either withstand higher rates of glyphosate applications, or tolerate applications of additional herbicides, or both.’” (Accessed 11/23/09 at www.theecologist.org/News)

Don’t buy anything besides organic, friends. It’s just not worth it.

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