GB No. 3, winter 1990/91
"Last December, the Polish minister of agriculture in Washington pre sented a list of required pesticides worth about $38 million. Some of the substances are harmful to the environment." (Greenpeace, April)
If we compare this list with the International Register of substances that are prohibited or limited in usage we see that there are many appearing on both documents. Despite this, according to the order, the EC bought many of them and sent them to Polish farmers as a gift.
HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE??
The system of pesticide classification is too liberal. On this basis only 8 chemical substances are forbidden and all others are permitted with out limits. The Ministry of Food and Agriculture allows about 60 pesticides restricted in the USA. and most of Western Europe. It is hard to imagine what will result from applying this "ecological bomb" to Polish farmers.
Ecological organizations are protesting and many articles in the press condemn this "Chemical Menu" and "Pesticide Appetite", but it is no good because nothing is against the law!
This whole affair pleases only U.S. producers of pesticides who can sell the poison which fills their stores to the East, thus increasing their incomes.
What about the Poles? They will take these things, not having to pay for them. "Don't look a gift horse in the mouth," as they say, but as for this horse, remember the Trojan one.
Here are some of the substances:
Even now, samples of pesticides are found in soil waters, the soil itself, some parts of plants and animals, and some food products. Practically no norms determine the legal amount of pesticides use in Poland, so health authorities cannot punish producers of chemically poisoned food. They cannot even confiscate poisoned fruit and vegetables - and the problem remains unsolved.
Few people are aware of this problem, shown by the number of cases of poisoning registered by the Medical Institute for Rural Problems in Lublin.
What does the Ministry of Agriculture say about it? "Each box has instructions in Polish for each substance. Special attention is paid to the proper usage of plant-protective measures in farmers' magazines, radio and TV programs, etc., which are published or broadcast during the annual schooling for those who use such preparations."
In Third World countries, lawmake it illegal to use some pestici-\A des, motivated by the statement that "using these preparations is too dangerous for local conditions." It means that native people aren't able to obey the complicated principles of using toxic chemicals. Despite the most sincere wishes of the Minister, "local conditions" in Polish villages are definitely "too dangerous". Greenpeace representatives could see it themselves: in a village near Toruń they saw a Polish farmer who sprayed his field against the wind, thus trying to protect his potatoes from potato beetle. In fact there were no beetles, but television had informed him that there were. The wind blew everything onto his naked chest... but never mind, there was a stream nearby in which the well-instructed farmer could wash the poison off. Of course his lungs were poisoned, but you can't see that. Yet.
This scene is not an exception. In 1984 the State Inspection of Environmental Protection took notice of chemical spraying done too close to rivers and lakes, and in improper weather conditions, as well as of incorrect washing of sprinkling and spraying devices. Still, the inspection allowed too many toxins, lacked adequate equipment and didn't maintain a preventative period of time.
BUT IS IT WORTH IT? MAYBE NOT?
Investigations by scientists at Ithica University in the U.S.A. proved that a more intensive chemical protection of cultivation brings economic loss: despite the ten-fold increase in quantity of pesticides in use, crop loss in the U.S.A. rose 13% in 35 years! Why? Intensive cultivation impoverishes the soil and insecticides destroy the ecological balance of ecosystems. Together with pests, plants' natural enemies die and nature's capacity to regulate populations is broken down. Counting on chemical plant protection results in continual searching for new pesticides, since insects become immune to the old ones. Where will this lead us? (A moment of silence).
A report recently published by the U.S. Academy of Science states that agriculture without pesticides is "ecologically proper and economically lasting." The Dutch have switched to "integrative agriculture", which reconciled food production with the needs of natural protection. Let's not swim against the stream!
Last of all, to quote a Greenpeace report, "Polish clerks lack the latest information on self-supporting, inexpensive management, which would ensure productive benefits in the most ecological and self-sufficient way and which wouldn't require much outlay."
P.S. For dessert: A few examples of biological plant protection from the following:
Plant lice and ants: Acazina (Acazi - a solution of wormwood, charlock and nettle); an onion, garlic and fern ex- tract; rhubarb tea.
Rodents: Elter, Cynoglossum, Euphor- bia.
Caterpillars: a solution of burdock of wormwood; a tomato extract; a brew of Tanacetum vulgare.
Bacteriological disease: a spray of onion and garlic.
Fungus: A solution of garlic, onion and wormwood; a horsetail brew.
These measures are used to treat grain, a mordant. They encourage growth, fluorescence and fruit sett- ing; they strengthen plants and thus increase crop yield considerably. It is worth trying out. BON APPETIT!