When you think of the top organic producing states in the country, does California come to mind?
If so, you are right on the money: the Golden State leads the way in terms of most organic cropland, followed by Montana, Wisconsin, New York, and North Dakota according to 2016 numbers.
But even as the organic movement grows, it’s become more clear than ever that we still have a monumental problem on our hands: our rampant use of toxic, synthetic pesticides is out of control and shows no signs of stopping.
California Uses Near-Record Amount of Pesticides: Report
All of this rampant pesticide use of course manifests itself in our environment: toxic Roundup, which uses the “probable human carcinogen” glyphosate as its main ingredient, is becoming found in everything from popular food samples to drinking water and our air (especially near farms that spray) to childhood vaccines.
Over 200,000 people die each year according to the UN because of acute pesticide exposure, but the cumulative effect may be even worse.
In California, the country’s top agricultural state, pesticides are everywhere, as near-record levels of them were applied according to the latest figures released in April.
Over 209 million pounds of pesticide active ingredients were used in 2016, which was down a little over 1 percent from the year before, but is stil the third-highest total since reporting began in 1991, according to this report from the website FairWarning.org.
In order to take advantage of the growing trend toward more natural and non-GMO foods, countless food companies have begun churning out “artisan” brands, flavors and products. But as consumers flock to these foods, the pesticide industry has continued to reap the benefits; meanwhile, the organic industry is rising but still struggling to make a serious dent in our rampant and destructive pesticide use.
More Acreage of Likely Human Carcinogens Applied Than Entire Land Area of Nine States
Th article goes on to share a surprising statistic: likely human carcinogens were applied to nearly 9.2 million acres statewide in 2016, which is more acreage than the entire land area of each of nine states.
While California is the top organic state and you can find its products lining the aisles of health food and even grocery stores everywhere, it’s fair to wonder whether or not the organic movement has run smack dab into a wall the size of the Golden State’s borders themselves.
Monsanto has of course been purchased by Bayer, but the German agrochemical giant has just as much of a dark history and is perhaps even more well-versed in pesticide production and application. And Monsanto recently signed a new $125 million deal to flood the market with new untested, longer-lasting GMOs which could increase pesticide use even more (GMO strawberries and wheat may be next).
California in many ways is a microcosm of the organic movement as a whole: tremendous progress has been made, but pesticide-intensive agriculture is still king and it is still killing off our bees, butterflies, and other wildlife en masse, not to mention our own health and environment.
The challenge now is to make organic agriculture the norm, not simply just a “premium” product suitable for health conscious people with a little extra money in the bank.
Needless to say, we’ve still got a long way to go.
For more information, check out the full report by clicking here.