Methods of farming can either benefit the planet or harm the planet. The types that benefit the planet, also benefit our health. The types that harm the planet harm us as well. These harmful methods when combined are the greatest forces fueling climate change. As long as these farming methods are kept in use, attempts to mitigate climate changes will be futile.
Fertilizer: Common commercial fertilizers sold at hardware and home improvement centers contain dangerous levels of phosphorous, hazardous waste, radioactive waste and heavy metals. Some brands also contain herbicides. Through runoff pollution and erosion, all of these substances seep into and contaminate our drinking water sources, create dead zones in our waterways, create algae blooms, and cause disease amongst people and wildlife.
Herbicides and Pesticides: These toxic substances are designed to kill bugs and plants. Because of their lethal toxicity, they also cause harm to people and animals. The more we are exposed the more in danger we become. Health effects can be immediate if exposure is significant, or health effects can slowly appear if exposure is minimal yet continuous. The majority of chemicals listed on the Persistent Organic Pollutants list are pesticides. Persistent Organic Pollutants are substances that persist in the environment and bioaccumulate in our fatty tissue, especially as they move up the food chain. Most herbicides and pesticides are carcinogenic, meaning they cause cancer. Glyphosate and neonicotinoids are proven causative factors in the decline of bee populations. Equally troubling, many of the herbicide and pesticide products contain inert ingredients that can increase chemical toxicity 50 to 100 fold or more.
Fumigants: Fumigants are pesticides injected into the soil. The most widely used fumigants are chemicals that damage the earth’s protective Ozone Layer and are banned through the Montreal Protocol. Nonetheless a few of these substances remain in use on certain crops through exemptions allowed by the U.S. government. Fumigants also cause significant health problems.
Monocropping: This type of farming method is employed by industrial farmers, those who plant a large share of the same crop without using rotation or barrier crops or companion planting methods. Instead they use tragic amounts of pesticides and fertilizer to maintain pest control and soil vitality. Monocropping farming uses such great amounts of chemicals that weeds have become resistant to pesticides. Monocropping is the method employed by farmers growing GMO seeds.
Deforestation, Loss of Grasslands, Prairies, Meadows: Whether in the rainforest or the plains in the upper Midwest, monocropping methods of farming cause destruction and conversion of significant portions of native forest, prairie and grasslands to farmland. This is devastating for the environment and the atmosphere, for forests and grasslands not only provide habitat for wildlife but also serve as carbon sinks contributing to a balanced atmosphere. When more chemicals and toxic substances go into our air, the more we need these forests and prairies. As long as the U.S. government continues to provide crop insurance and subsidies to farmers to convert these native lands to farmlands, the less chance we have of altering climate change.
GMOs: Whether you believe GMOS are harmful or not, the methods by which they are grown are indeed harmful. GMO farming combines all of the above techniques: monocropping, deforestation, excessive amounts of toxic pesticides and fertilizer that contributes to detrimental and harmful water contamination, pesticide drift, superweeds, erosion, runoff pollution, and toxic algae blooms. We can no longer allow Big Ag with their lobbyists and pocket politicians to destroy our planet or our health with their anti-nature methods.