An article published online yesterday by the Guardian (a UK newspaper) stated that a major component of slug poison has been found in one in eight of England and Wales’ drinking water sources.
The chemical, metaldehyde, which is used by farmers to protect their crops from slugs, is almost impossible to remove from drinking water, with concentrations up to 100 times greater than the maximum contaminant level set out by EU regulations. Although it was been said that a person would need to consume 1000 litres for every day of their life for the poison to affect humans, nothing has been mentioned about the possible effects on the aquatic life in these bodies of water.
I think this brings to light the overall problem with inorganic fertilisers and pesticides. Understandably in this economic turd of a time, farmers want to protect their precious crops the best they can, especially as they are being squeezed down on prices continuously, but personally I think that a more responsible approach to crop protection is needed.
It has been proven that introducing natural predators to the farms is a great way of both reducing the pests but also a way of increasing biodiversity in the area, pollination etc., and such practices are in place on many organic farms avoiding the use of fertilisers.
Another issue that has come to light over the past couple of months is the use of the chemical neonicotinoids. Since Victorian times, nicotine has been used as a pesticide, but the use of this chemical is all but abolished. However, neonicotinoids, which are applied as a dressing to oilseed rape seeds before planting, but recent research has shown that this chemical can show up in the pollen of the oilseed rape plant. The bees that collect nectar in these fields can become drowsy and confused, and lose their way home, eventually dying.
Organic farmers practice planting various organic deterrent plants, such as garlic, amongst crops susceptible to insect damage, which provides a great and organic living condition for the crops, and additional garlic. There are many examples of plants benefiting other plants, and the TV chef Nigel Slater has publicised that he tries to keep all of the plants in his garden either for food, medicine or for their protective properties over other plants.
I’m sure that the crop yields are at their highest when chemical fertilisers/pesticides/insecticides are used, but in a world where chemicals in food, gm produce are increasingly topical, and the realisation that the all-important bees are becoming less common, maybe a leaf should be taken out of the organic farmers books on this matter.