It is not often that I stick my head above the parapet and look the world in the eye. I don’t read newspapers, and I don’t watch or listen to the news. I have even been known to ask friends, “Which political party is in power?” – or, “Who is the prime minister at the moment?”
Is this socially irresponsible? – Possibly. Is it better for my peace of mind? Definitely.
However over the past month– something has come up and been voiced around the blogs and forums that even I cannot ignore. Yesterday Little Gem’s post prodded my conscience and I am adding my voice to hers and other bloggers to express concern over the hormone herbicide “Aminopyralid”. Which is produced by Dow AgroSciences
I don’t know if this is a “storm in a teacup” or something that will have a longer-term effect on our land and it is perhaps this “not knowing” that distresses me most of all.
Those of us that grow our own veg – care for our soil. We know that soil in good heart will produce great veg.
We know what is in our soil because we dug it in. I try and be organic in my vegetable garden and what is the first thing organic gardeners turn to? – a pile of well-rotted manure.
However it would now appear that some farmyard manure is contaminated. This contamination is the result of spraying grassland to kill off broad leaf weeds with an industrial herbicide, aminopoyralid (It also goes by other names). Animals have then grazed the land or been fed hay or silage made from the treated land. Traces of the herbicide remain in the animal dung – even after this manure has been rotted down and sold on to the gardener.
If you use “infected” manure – the resultant plants are distorted (see links below) – so I guess you wouldn’t be eating those anyway – but I do have to ask myself – What about the plants that don’t show distortions – how safe are those to eat? What about next years veg? What are the long-term effects of strong industrial herbicide to our planet?
The PSD (Pesticides Safety Directorate) states that; – as long as the contaminated manure has been fully rotavated into the soil to aid decomposition it should be safe for growing plants in the Spring of 2009.
The PSD also says that; –
“…. using manure which may contain residues of aminopyralid does not have implications for human health”
Quoted from the PSD websites regulatory update 18/2008 Issued 11th July 2008
I think that currently we are only seeing the tip of the ice-burg – and, if what I read in the forums proves to be true – it may be the case that this contamination has also got into grow-bags and commercially bagged soil improvers – but I imagine that the suppliers of these products are still testing for this.
It is not just vegetables that are affected – it may also damage some flowers, trees and shrubs that have “infected” muck spread over the beds.
I have written this post because I am concerned about anything that may poison our earth – despite assurances that in a years time, if the contaminated manure is well rotavated into the soil the herbicide will break down.
Although we have been assured that this contamination will not affect the health of either the animals it passes through or humans. What about other costs? The financial cost of loosing a season of vegetable growing? – The emotional cost of poisoning your own patch of dirt?
This all applies to the UK – I don’t know about other countries – and I would urge you to discover for yourself if this product is being used in your country
Please don’t use the comments to name and blame, but do check out the links and draw your own conclusions and formulate what action(s) if any you will take, whether it is writing to your MP, calling for some accountability, boycotting a particular product, or just avoiding shit for the time being.
Me – well I will be ducking back down behind the parapet again – contemplate my big pile of animal poo and wonder what to do with it. Then I will just do my best to ensure that everyone I come in to contact with is aware of the situation.
Links for you to check out.
Allotment Growing Diary. Again a lot of information and pictures of affected produce.
Royal Horticultural Society – Weedkiller in Manure.
PSD – 11th July Update
Garden Organic – The UK’s Leading organic growing charity. An interesting article.
Dow AgroSciences – A notice for UK allotment holders and gardeners.