In the past six-plus decades toxic, synthetic pesticides have become the norm in United States agriculture thanks to companies like Monsanto, DuPont and many others, but it didn’t always used to be that way.
The change was made in large part for financial reasons to put the many leftover wartime chemicals of the era to use, in order to pad the bank accounts of large chemical companies.
Flash forward to 2018 and we have a certified epidemic on our hands when it comes to farm worker poisonings and deaths. According to a 2017 report from the United Nations, over 200,000 people die worldwide from direct exposure to these pesticides.
Thankfully many farmers are finding better ways to manage pests on their farms. The changes haven’t come without hardship, however, as the following stories show.
Farmers Survive Near-Deaths From Pesticides, Find Success in Organics
Strawberry farmer Jim Cochran was doing just fine on his California farm in 1981 when one fateful day changed everything.
Upon rising to get the jump on the day’s chores, he met face-to-face with a noxious form of tear gas produced when the heat and sun from the day came into contact with toxic pesticides he was using on his farm.
He immediately felt sick and shaky, with damaging respiratory problems that only went away with rest after about a month. It was then and there that he decided to prove the industry wrong, and in time became a successful grower in what has become one of the dirtiest produce industries in the country.
“This was when it was becoming obvious that pesticides were way more harmful than people had been led to believe,” he said according to this article from the website Grist.org.
“If You Don’t (Leave Farming), You Probably Won’t Live 10 Years”
Another article (click here to read) from Ken Roseboro of The Organic & Non-GMO Report describes the story of Blaine Schmaltz, who farms in Rugby, North Dakota.
One day in 1993 he was spraying an herbicide on his field and stopped to check the level in the sprayer tank. He wound up passing out and lost control of his legs and was later hospitalized for months with asthma, muscle pains, and insomnia.
A doctor told him he only had ten years to live should he decide to stay in the profession, but Schmaltz took the opportunity to read up on organic farming. He transitioned over and his symptoms disappeared as a result.
“My Husband Was Slowly Being Poisoned”
Yet another farmer named Klaas Martens of New York state suffered headaches, nausea, and temporary paralysis of his right arm according to the Roseboro article after being exposed to 2, 4-D herbicides and other chemicals.
“My husband was slowly being poisoned,” his wife Mary-Howell wrote.
In 1991 they made the switch to organic because of what pesticides “might be doing to us, our family, our land, and our enviroment.” They now operate Lakeview Organic Grain according to the article, which can be read in full by clicking here.
Why We Must Go Organic Now Before It’s Too Late
According to a 2017 report from Food Safety News, as much as 80 percent of organic food on store shelves in the United States is imported, often from countries with questionable safety standards.
As the United States continues its long climb out of the pit of disease that has been created in large part due to the chemical industries that have overtaken our fields, it’s important to note that there is a crying need for more organic farmers like the ones mentioned above.
There’s no better time than now to begin taking back our health by going organic and avoiding GMOs, and the best news is that we can all start one garden at a time in our own backyards.