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Alternatives to Pesticides & Other Harmful Contaminants

Updated: 2 days ago

So why has glyphosate become the pesticide environmental activists love to hate? One reason: It was developed by Monsanto, the company often referred to as the “Great Satan” when activists are lashing out at what they call “industrial agriculture.”

Some farmers may be resistant to the idea of reevaluating farming techniques that may impact water quality in certain areas due to the added cost and workload associated with changing how we produce food. However, this is a message that everyone needs to hear, regardless of their background, because it's a problem that affects us all, regardless of class, race, gender, or level of concern. The size of the farming operation also matters in this context, from industrial to boutique.

"It is important to have a positive perspective of rural farming, and I want to atract more black farmers to it. Plus, we desperately need younger people to come into its fold and learn from our older generations how to carry it on. The average age of the black farmer is 60, which is older than US producers overall". -Dr. Veronica Womack, founder of Black Farmer's Network

“If we move forward and don’t clean up the messes of the past, they’ll just get swept under the rug.” – Erin Brokovich

Family farmers, and farmers in general, contribute directly to food security and nutrition. They also directly influence the management of resources, social interaction, and community bonds.

“You literally push a couple of buttons, the drone flies the field like a lawnmower, collects the data, and processes the data,” said Colby. “It’s a very valuable tool,” he said. DroneDeploy offers both a free service and paid service, which starts at $99 per month.

"I know there's a farmer out there somewhere who never wants a PC and that's fine with me." -Bill Gates

“The scariest thing is that nobody seems to be considering the impact on those wild fish of fish farming on the scale that is now being proposed on the coast of Norway or in the open ocean off the United States. Fish farming, even with conventional techniques, changes fish within a few generations from an animal like a wild buffalo or a wildebeest to the equivalent of a domestic cow. Domesticated salmon, after several generations, are fat, listless things that are good at putting on weight, not swimming up fast-moving rivers. When they get into a river and breed with wild fish, they can damage the wild fish's prospects of surviving to reproduce. When domesticated fish breed with wild fish, studies indicate the breeding success initially goes up, then slumps as the genetically different offspring are far less successful at returning to the river. Many of the salmon in Norwegian rivers, which used to have fine runs of unusually large fish, are now of farmed origin. Domesticated salmon are also prone to potentially lethal diseases, such as infectious salmon anemia, which has meant many thousands have had to be quarantined or killed. They are also prone to the parasite Gyrodactylus salaris, which has meant that whole river systems in Norway have had to be poisoned with the insecticide rotenone and restocked.” ― Charles Clover, The End of the Line: How Overfishing Is Changing the World and What We Eat

There is a lawsuit that claims the cranberry operations are polluting water systems by illegally releasing phosphorous-laden water without permits through ditches and canals, such as into the Musky Bay. Phosphorous is an essential nutrient that's commonly found in fertilizers, but too much can fuel the growth of algae and reduce water quality.

"Globalized industrialized food is not cheap: it is costly for the Earth, for the farmers, for our health. The Earth can no longer carry the burden of excessive groundwater mining, pesticide pollution, the disappearance of species, and the destabilization of habitats"

"In the end, if and when our time on this planet has run its course, the human species will be judged not by the number of billionaires it has produced, or even by the exquisite art it has created over the entire span of its evolutionary history. Rather, it will be evaluated on how well it looked after its own kind and the rest of the life forms on which it was wholly dependent."

'Nature has all the answers. What is your question? Mine is, how can a city bio-mimic a functional


A farming robot revolution is imminent, with fruit-picking machines nearly ready to roll into the fields and start replacing human workers.

Glyphosate, commonly referred to as Roundup, is a commonly used pesticide in both small commercial farms and residential gardens as well as grand-scale industrial farming. It has been reported to increase the risk of cancer, endocrine disruption, celiac disease, the spectrum of autistic vulnerability, erythrocytes, and leaky-gut syndrome.

Roundup weedkiller made by Monsanto with Glyphosate, UK.

New York, NY, May 25, 2013. A sign denouncing Monsanto was held up as people in New York's Union Square rallied against the U.S.-based agriculture and biotechnology corporation. The rally and subsequent march was one of many across the U.S. and in dozens of other countries. Organizers hope to spread the word about what they say are the harmful effects of genetically modified foods.

Making the leap from Monsanto's business practices - whatever you may think of them - to the 'dangers' of GM foods is a mistake in logical reasoning. It is akin to saying landscape paintings are potentially evil because the painter was a serial killer. -Kyle Hill. vs. Like so many large companies in the U.S., Monsanto has prospered in large part due to U.S. taxpayer-funded programs and services.

Economically, many folks don't feel they can afford organic. While this may be true in some cases, I think more often than not it's a question of priority. I feel it's one of the most important areas of concern ecologically because the petrochemical giants - DuPont, Monsanto - make huge money by poisoning us. -Woody Harrelson

Monsanto can do anything they want to you, and put anything they want into your foods. There's nothing you can do about it. -Jesse Ventura

Kind mit einem Schild, Demonstration gegen Monsanto am 25.03.2013 in Berlin, Alexanderplatz Child holding a sign, Protest against Monsanto on 25.03.2013 in Berlin, Alexanderplatz, Germany

Ever notice that filmy waxy shiny residue on fruits and vegetables at your local grocery store? Produce may have dirt, germs and pesticide residues on them during the time it is grown until it's taken to your table, sometimes traveling thousands of miles. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) control the amount of pesticide residue allowed on foods to ensure food safety.

Greta Thunberg (born January 3, 2003, Stockholm, Sweden) Swedish environmental activist who worked to address the problem of climate change, founding (2018) a movement known as Fridays for Future (also called School Strike for Climate). Thunberg's mother was an opera singer, and her father was an actor.

The impacts of climate change, including psychological based on mass media reporting, will become increasingly evident in the coming years, leading to significant population shifts as people flee the West. By 2035, the full extent of our neglect, in many ways, will be apparent. Without deliberate efforts to reverse a sense of normalcy, the world as we know it will be unrecognizable.

Research estimates more than 216 million people could migrate within their countries as a result of climate change by 2050

We must consider the impact of current agricultural practices on our water supply. Are these methods sufficient to prevent harmful contaminants from entering our water sources? Why aren't farmers incentivized to use environmentally friendly alternatives to harsh chemical pesticides? Perhaps the government could offer tax breaks, grants, or subsidies to encourage this transition.

Around 60 million plastic bottles end up in landfills every single day, and Americans alone send more than 38 billion water bottles to landfills every year, the equivalent of 912 million gallons of oil. How many plastic bottles are in the ocean? The number of plastic bottles in the sea is unknown, but over 250 billion were not recycled. Around 8-9 million metric tons of plastic end up in our oceans every year.

Changing habits is challenging, especially when the benefits of change are not immediately apparent or when harmful practices are cheaper and more convenient. However, the truth is that these chemicals end up in our water supply, with serious consequences for both wildlife and human health.

Britta Baechler, Associate Director of Ocean Plastics Research at Ocean Conservancy cited a study that found 60% of fish examined globally contained microplastics. Carnivorous fish were more likely to have microplastics than omnivores.

The What's in the Net study documents that at least 720,000 seabirds, 300,000 cetaceans, 345,000 seals and sea lions, and over 250,000 turtles die after being caught in fisheries around the world annually alongside tens of millions of sharks.

Studies suggest that although only 1% of used face masks are improperly disposed of, this still amounts to approximately 10 million masks per month, resulting in 30-40 tons of plastic waste being released into the environment (Kwak and An, 2021)

During the 1970s, between 1 million and 2 million tires were put in the ocean off Broward County to create additional fish habitats. Tire rubber contains various chemicals and pollutants that can leach into the water, posing a threat to aquatic organisms and the overall health of the ocean. Additionally, the physical presence of tire debris can disrupt habitats and harm marine animals that may ingest or become entangled in it.

In the United States, among married women aged 15 to 49 years with no prior births, about 1 in 5 (19%) are unable to get pregnant after one year of trying (infertility)

Each year in the U.S. there are an estimated 15, 780 children between the ages of birth and 19 years of age who are diagnosed with cancer. Approximately 1 in 285 children in the U.S. will be diagnosed with cancer before their 20th birthday. Globally there are more than 300,000 children diagnosed with cancer each year.

In 2022, there will be an estimated 1.9 million new cancer cases diagnosed and 609,360 cancer deaths in the United States

Antidepressants (ATDs) are one of the most prescribed medications for psychiatric conditions. The widespread presence in aquatic environment and demonstrated ecotoxicity make ATDs a class of concerning emerging contaminants. Scientists are also testing sludge from wastewater treatment plants:"Tracking substances such as nicotine, alcohol, heroin and opioids in sewage sludge shows how drug uses changes on weekends. “Those pieces of information are hard to come by otherwise,” Peccia said.

There are many diagrams that educate readers of all ages about the relationship between water, land usage, and the potential errors that can occur including runoff into water systems, especially if continually effective safeguards aren't in place and erosion is present due to habitat destruction.

Stone orange aqueduct at Queretaro downtown, plaza, Mexico. Some techniques related to water systems, including procurement and distribution of potable water and irrigation date back to ancient civilizations. An understanding of topography and physics is essential for effective construction, resilience, and efficacy.

It seems no matter how hard humanity tries to address problems such as harm reduction in manufacturing goods, inventing processes and techniques that serve many, as in the millions, causes unwanted consequences. Even the concept of "the cloud" is not truly the cloud, but data stored in sprawling centers throughout the globe, taking hectares upon hectares of land to store our digital footprint.

There are alternatives to chemical pesticides, such as using insectary plants like rosemary and mint (These attract bugs that will target pests from infiltrating your garden), diatomaceous earth (earth made from silica shells of algae formed together, from a powder which then kills the insects through death by dehydration and they leave your tomato plants alone), introducing birds and insect-eating mammals (create a welcoming environment for local birds who then eat pests that harm plant life. Make bird feeders, nesting boxes, not shooting them)

Scatter mexican marigolds (Tagetes minuta) and pot marigolds (Calendula officinalis) through your veggie garden for bugless crops, information courtesy of Backyard Farmer

Neem-derived extracts have been shown to work anywhere from insect repellent, to supplements to lower inflammation, diabetic control, and even to combat cancer.

Neem oil (Extract from the Neem Plant, this oil is poison to most pests and insects),

Pine needles, also known as pine straw, make fine mulch for some flower beds and home gardens (not pictured above). They are light and fluffy, used by the late Dr. Renato Cardano in his garden on the Eastern Shore of Virginia that he created using a variety of inventions, techniques, and methods in his retirement as a metallurgist from Italy. His grandchildren have continued his legacy

Mulching (process of applying shredded parts of a plant, especially leaves, on the soil's surface. Well-executed mulching is an effective pest control measure, as it minimizes the odds of soil damage, discourages weed growth, and reduces direct sunlight's effects on the soil), insecticidal oils (One of the most commonly used natural pest control methods in eco-friendly gardening community. Unlike other methods listed, gardeners have depended on insecticidal oils for a significant amount of time. They help with spider mites, aphids, and psylla populations), regulating access to pests (avert them with a meshed wire fence....laughable tactic to some considering the avarice nature of survival) and introducing microbial diseases

Located in Painter, Virginia, the Eastern Shore Agricultural Research and Extension Center is committed to supporting commercial vegetable and agronomic crop production. The center grows more than 25 crops annually for research and Extension studies. New, state-of-the-art applied research that is relevant to local farming operations is essential to ensure the Eastern Shore remains a leader in commercial agriculture production. 

Researchers at centers like the Agricultural Research and Extension Center study interesting topics such as major fungal diseases, that affect potato crops such as late blight, early blight, black scurf, dry rots, wart, powdery scab, and charcoal rots.

Plant diseases caused by fungi and bacteria are most common when rain showers and/or heavy dews are frequent and temperatures are warm. During these times, scout the garden regularly for disease. Viral diseases of vegetables occur mainly during the summer when the insects that carry these diseases are most active. Nematodes thrive when temperatures are warm but they can feed on plant roots all year. Although nematode damage to the root system is hidden, high numbers of the pests will reduce plant growth and yields.

(Common pathogenic diseases that affect common household pests include fungi, viruses, and various bacteria. When introducing these diseases into a garden, they're guaranteed to kill the pests infiltrating your garden or successfully interfere with their reproduction cycles, making it a safer space for your plant life). Colloidal silver is also an effective and safe option for controlling pests in the garden. Antimicrobial silver is not only effective against fungus, but helps increase crop quality and size.

Colloidal silver was introduced in the late 1800s (19th century) and widely used before the 1930s as an alternative to silver nitrate, due to its side effects (irritancy, caustic nature, blackening of skin, and, lately, electrolyte imbalance) for medical use [7,8,204]. Colloidal silver usually contains metallic silver particles suspended in a solution with < 10% ionized silver. The commercial definition now includes any fluid containing silver, such as colloidal silver protein, Micro- dyn (colloidal silver in gelatin), marketed in Mexico to disinfect vegetables and drinking water [205]. The discovery and use of penicillin, sulfonamide, and mafenide antibiotics lead to the near abandonment of silver and its related compounds in most parts of the world for 40 years after the Second World War [9-11]

Ultimately, improving water quality by examining techniques used for the procurement of food is a shared responsibility that we cannot afford to ignore. While there has been progress in reducing poverty and improving life expectancy, there is still much room for improvement. It all begins with our food and water supply, which are interconnected and essential for our survival.

Sooner or later, we will have to recognise that the Earth has rights, too, to live without pollution. What mankind must know is that human beings cannot live without Mother Earth, but the planet can live without humans. –Evo Morales

While these methods may seem enticing, the level of involvement and effort required from a diverse array of experts including farmers, corporations, legislators, suppliers, distributors, and activists would be immense. However, it is not an impossible task. Meanwhile, the priority remains ensuring that the world is adequately fed.

“We are enslaved by speed and have all succumbed to the same insidious virus: Fast Life, which disrupts our habits, pervades the privacy of our homes, and forces us to eat Fast Foods… A firm defense of quiet material pleasure is the only way to oppose the universal folly of Fast Life… May suitable doses of guaranteed sensual pleasure and slow, long-lasting enjoyment preserve us from the contagion of the multitude who mistake frenzy for efficiency. Our defense should begin at the table with Slow Food. Let us rediscover the flavors and savors of regional cooking and banish the degrading effects of Fast Food.”

(Excerpt from the Official Slow Food Manifesto, as published in “Slow Food: A Case for Taste” in 2001)

-Arlie Russell Hochschild

-Alice Waters

July 16, 2006 Rio Negro, Amazon, Brazil. Vandana Shiva from the Navdania seed project.

July 23, 2022: A small crowd gathers in downtown Ottawa to show support for the Dutch Farmers cause protesting new environmental targets to slow climate change in the Netherlands.

Many "green" initiatives encourage individuals to change their behavior, like their eco-footprint.

“The Earth is a fine place and worth fighting for.” -Ernest Hemingway, Author

“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.” -Native American Proverb

"Until you dig a hole, you plant a tree, you water it and make it survive, you haven't done a thing. You are just talking." -Wangari Maathai

This is only one aspect of change, including reducing our exposure to harmful contaminants. In a reductionist stance, it seems the only solution is to simply ban the processes that cause harm, which ultimately is in the hands of corporations that provide consumer choices. It is much easier to reduce destructive behaviors related to our health and environment when the choices that promote them are eliminated. It certainly brings up the interrelated topics of freedom, privacy, and ethics. Consumers can choose to participate in a slow food movement, but making a transition to such a lifestyle can be daunting. Dedicating your life to sustainability can reduce what feels like a competitive edge. Some may feel there isn't enough time in their day to practice ethical consumer behaviors that are not built into our expectations of convenience, including the ones we take for granted. Furthermore, the "right" choice is cost-prohibitive when presented alongside more affordable options, such as in your local grocery store.

A sign advertises fresh eggs, June 10, 2021, in Grand Bay, Alabama. The community of 3,672 people is predominantly rural.

The Organic Farm Shop at Abbey Farm has organic fruit and vegetables for sale in the shop. The entropy of a carrot, aid to vision. Important to see the connection as a root in earth covered in dirt, and not simply a plastic shiny bullet soaked in antimicrobial light chlorine. Address the disconnect.

Tuscany, Val d'Orcia. Rolling hills and landscape, Italy "Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food." -Hippocrates

Slow Food is an organization that promotes local food and traditional cooking, it was founded by Carlo Petrini in Italy in 1986 and has since spread worldwide. It is a global movement of local groups and activists united by the common goal of ensuring everyone has access to good, clean, and fair food.

Slow Food agricultural education project near Domodossola, Piedmont, Italy. Slow Food is not confined to Italy. Today there are over 150,000 members of the movement in 160 countries.  The United States has more than 170 local chapters. In 2004, Petrini opened the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo in Piedmont, Italy, where you can study artisanal and industrial food production, among other things.

Carlo Petrini President and Founder of the Slow Food Movement. Back in 1986, when the first McDonald’s in Italy was set to open near the Spanish Steps in Rome, there were protests. One man, an Italian journalist named Carlo Petrini, decided that carrying signs was futile and so he planned a different way to get attention. He gathered his friends and they joined the protesters not with signs, but with bowls of penne pasta that they dished out to passersby.  Their slogan, “We don’t want fast food… we want slow food!” Petrini and other protesters were not able to keep McDonald’s out but they did give voice to another way of thinking about food, and from this the Slow Food movement was born. Three years after the first protest, Petrini and representatives of 15 countries met in Paris for the signing of the Slow Food Manifesto

"Say No to McDonald's" artwork courtesy of