Pesticides Found on "Organic" Crops

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    How organic is your organic?

    Even when you buy organic, you might still be getting pesky chemicals and pesticides on your food.

    That's because of a phenomenon known as "pesticide drift," whereby poisons from one field are blown in the wind to another. That spells disaster for organic farmers, who have found through chemical testing that their fields have become contaminated by their neighbors' substances.

    Fortunately, those farmers have recourse. This week, a court handed a victory to one such grower, allowing him to keep a $1 million judgment and proceed with a lawsuit against a pesticide applier. That organic farm had to destroy their crop because it had become so polluted by drifting chemicals.

    That could change the way that pesticides are used. Currently, it's legal to apply the substances in such a way that they could leave the crops and drift onto other fields, wildlife areas, or even peoples' homes. Agricultural pollution is a major source of environmental damage in the state. This new ruling, which was reached unanimously, confirms that even when the law is followed, bystanders might still be unwittingly subjected to pesticides.

    Pesticide manufacturers and users have warned that the ruling could make it harder to grow crops, but organic farmers have cited the need for protection against harmful substances that can't be properly controlled.

    Measures can be taken to prevent pesticide drift: new buffer zones have been established around sprayed areas to minimize the spread of chemicals. Of course, farms could always just stop using toxic substances on their produce. But that would be crazy, wouldn't it?