Regarding “The Myth of Organic Agriculture” by Henry I. Miller (Jan. 12 Forum), the writer’s perspective is limited by his profession. I work in landscaping and am a certified pesticide applicator. I recognize the needs of business and that chemicals like man-made fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides can do the work of several people. Also commercial agriculture could not feed billions without chemicals.
But in classes at Phipps Conservatory, I learned of nurseries that spray roses with organic compost tea to treat fungal diseases. The tea provided nutrients for a more robust plant, which would recover and prevent further outbreaks. The tea provided long-term benefit, not just the short-term treatment of a man-made fungicide, which would not kill all the fungal disease and not provide any nutrients to the plant.
And in my work, I apply a compost tea to lawns as a fertilizer and to promote beneficial micro-fauna in the soil. The manufacturer advises not to apply the tea within a two-week period of any chemical application as man-made chemicals can kill a significant portion of the bacteria and fungi in the soil that help grass roots grow.
Dr. Miller states there is no evidence that organics are “good for nature, good for you” and that buying non-organic is “environmentally responsible.”
But what of evidence of the harm that chemicals do? What about the algae blooms in Lake Erie and the Gulf of Mexico? Chemicals we put on lawns, golf courses and crops cause these dead zones, not organics like fish emulsions, composts or compost teas. And several TV shows (“Victory Garden,” “Garden Smart,” “Ask This Old House”) have shown examples of organic compared to non-organic landscaping. Over time, the organic sites have healthier plants that recover more quickly from severe weather. Battery Park in New York after Superstorm Sandy is an example.
There is a time and place for everything. Please do not accept that man-made chemicals are the only or best solution.