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FORMATION OF PETROLEUM AND IT IS USED TO MANUFACTURE PESTICIDES
AND FERTILIZERS.
The word "pesticide" is a broad term that reIers to any device, method, or chemical that kills
plants or animals that compete Ior humanity's Iood supply or are otherwise undesirable.
Pesticides include insecticides, Iungicides, herbicides, nematocides (used to kill nematodes,
elongated cylindrical worms), and rodenticides. OI these various pesticides, insecticides have a
longer and more noteworthy history, perhaps because the number oI insects labeled "pests"
greatly exceeds the number oI all other plant and animal "pests" combined. Hence, this article
Iocuses on the use oI agricultural insecticides.
Since they Iirst began cultivating crops (around 7000 B.C. ) iI not beIore, humans have devised
methods to prevent insects Irom eating or otherwise destroying precious crops. Some cultures
relied on the practice oI planting during certain phases oI the moon. Other early agricultural
practices that indirectly kept insect populations low were rotating crops; planting small, varied
crops; and selecting naturally resistant plants. People picked bugs oII plants by hand and made
noise to ward oII grasshoppers. Chemicals were also used early on. The crushed petals oI the
pyrethrum (a type oI chrysanthemum), sulIur, and arsenic were used in the Middle East, Rome,
and China, respectively. The Chinese also used natural predators such as ants to eat undesirable
insects.
All attempts at pest control were pretty much individual aIIairs until the 1840s, when a North
American Iungus called powdery mildew invaded Britain, and the epidemic was controlled with
large-scale applications oI sulIur. The Colorado beetle in the western United States was the next
target: by 1877 western settlers had learned to protect their potato crop by using water-insoluble
chemicals such as paris green. Other pesticides such as derria, quassia, and tar oil Iollowed, but
nineteenth-century pesticides were weak. They had to be supplemented by introducing natural
predators, or, in some cases, by graIting threatened plants onto more resistant rootstock.
By World War II, only about 30 pesticides existed. Research during the war yielded DDT
(dichloro-diphenyl-trichloro-ethane), which had been synthesized in 1874 but wasn't recognized
as an insecticide until 1942. Other strong pesticides soon Iollowed, such as chlordane in 1945
and endrin in 1951. Poison gas research in Germany yielded the organophosphorus compounds,
the best known oI which is parathion. These new pesticides were very strong. Further research
yielded hundreds oI organophosphorus compounds, the most noteworthy being malathion, which
was recently used in CaliIornia against the medIly.
Until the 1800s, when people began to spray personal gardens using Iairly large machines,
pesticides were generally applied by hand. Airplanes were not used until the 1920s, and slow,
well-controlled, low-level Ilights were not implemented until the 1950s. The Iirst aerial spraying
oI synthetic pesticides used large amounts oI inert materials, 4000 liters per hectare (a hectare
equals 2.47 acres). This quantity was rapidly reduced to 100 to 200 liters/hectare, and by the
1970s the amount had been reduced (in some cases) to .3 liters per hectare oI the ingredient itselI
(Ior example, malathion) applied directly to the Iields.

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Health Effects of Pesticides
Asthma
O Researchers Iound an association between asthma and use oI pesticides by male Iarmers.
(Senthilselvan et al, 1992) Although this study involved adults, it raises concerns about
children's exposures to pesticides used in the home or residues brought home on parents'
clothes or equipment.
Birth Defects
O The commonly used pesticide, chlorpyriIos (brand name Dursban) caused severe birth
deIects in Iour children exposed in utero. ChlorpyriIos is used widely as an agricultural
chemical, but is also the most common pesticide used indoors to kill termites, Ileas,
roaches and in pest control strips. (Sherman, JD. 1996 ChlorpyriIos (Dursban)-associated
birth deIects: report oI Iour cases. Arch. Env .Health 51(1): 5-8)
4 A study in Minnesota Iound signiIicantly higher rates oI birth deIects in children
born to pesticide applicators and in regions oI the state where chlorophenoxy
herbicides and Iungicides are widely used. (Garry, 1996)
4 In CaliIornia, mothers living and working in agricultural areas with high pesticide
use had a higher risk Ior giving birth to children with limb reduction deIects.
(Schwartz, 1988)
4 A study oI pregnant women in Iowa and Michigan Iound that women exposed to
multiple pesticides had an increased risk oI giving birth to a child with cleIt
palate. (Gordon, 1981)
4 Researchers Iound higher rates oI numerous birth deIects in children born to
Norwegian Iarmers exposed to pesticides, including hormone eIIects like
hypospadia and undescended testicles. (Kristensen and others, 1997)
Neurological Effects
O Pesticides can be potent neurotoxins. When people are exposed to neurotoxins they may
Ieel dizzy, lightheaded, conIused and may have reduced coordination and ability to think.
These are the short-term eIIects, while long term exposure can result in reduced IQ and
learning disability, associated with permanent brain damage. In spite oI wide reporting oI
adverse symptoms, until recently, Iew studies could link permanent brain damage to such
exposures. There is new evidence that prolonged exposure to pesticides in areas where
they are used routinely may cause permanent brain damage to children who live in these
areas.

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4 Dr. Elizabeth Guillette studied the brain Iunction oI 4-5 year old children living in
the Yaqui Valley area oI Sonora, Mexico. Although the children share similar
genetic backgrounds, they had very diIIerent patterns oI exposure to pesticides.
Dr. Guillette compared children living in the Valley, where large quantities oI
agricultural pesticides are used, to children living in the Ioothills where pesticides
are used inIrequently. In 1990, high levels oI multiple pesticides were Iound in
breast milk and cord blood oI newborns Irom the valley. The children living in the
valley, with high levels oI pesticide exposure had less stamina, poorer eye-hand
coordination, poorer memory and were less skilled in drawing Iigures. (Guillette,
3;iro3me39,l He. Perspec9i;es, June 1998)
Cancer
O National trends indicate that rates oI childhood cancer have been increasing. Researchers
at MDH concluded that these increases were also evident in Minnesota. (A. Swenson and
S. Bushhouse, "Childhood Cancer Incidence and Trends in Minnesota, 1988-1994".
Minnesota Medicine, vol. 81, December 1998.) Between 1973 and 1991, all cancers
combined increased an average oI 1 per year and brain cancer increased 2 per year.
SpeciIically:

4 Incidence oI acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) rose 27.4 between 1973 and
1990, Irom 2.8 cases per 100,000 children to 3.5 cases per 100,000 children.
4 From 1973 to 1994, incidence oI childhood brain cancer increased 39.6.
4 Wilms tumor incidence in the same years rose 45.6.
4 In teens aged 15-19 between 1973 and 1995, cancer incidence rose Ior the
Iollowing: non-Hodgkin's lymphoma 128, testicular cancer 65, ovarian cancer
78 and all cancers combined 24.

(National Cancer Institute, SEER, Cancer Statistics Review, 1975-1995. Ries et al ed.
1998; Gurney, J.G. et al, Trends in cancer incidence among children in the United States.
Cancer, vol 78: 532-41, 1996; DeVesa, S.S. et al, Recent trends in the United States, J.
Natl Cancer Inst 87: 175-182, 1995.)
O Sheila Zahm and Mary Ward, summarized the studies oI pesticides and childhood cancer
and concluded that the Iollowing childhood cancers were linked to pesticide exposure:
leukemia, neuroblastoma, Wilms tumor, soIt-tissue sarcoma, Ewing's sarcoma, non-
Hodgkins's lymphoma, and cancers oI the brain, colorectum and testes. They noted, It is
noteworthy that many oI the reported increased risks are oI greater magnitude than those
observed in studies oI pesticide-exposed adults, suggesting that children may be
particularly sensitive to the carcinogenic eIIects oI pesticides. (Zahm and Ward, 1998,
Environmental Health Perspectives, vol. 106)
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O Thirty-seven pesticides have limited, suggestive or suIIicient evidence oI carcinogenicity
in animals. (International Agency Ior Research on Cancer). Although the literature on
pesticides and cancer is extensive and not Iully conclusive, the Iollowing are a Iew
examples linking pesticides and childhood cancer.

4 Leiss et al Iound a 4-Iold increased risk oI soIt-tissue sarcoma among children
whose yards had been treated with pesticides during childhood.
4 Parental use oI pesticides in the home or garden during pregnancy was associated
with 3- to 9-Iold increases in leukemia in Los Angeles Co. (Lowengart,1987)
4 A review oI 17 case-control studies and one cohort study shows a possible role Ior
pesticides in childhood leukemia. (Zahm and Ward, 1998)
4 Elevations in brain cancer risk related to at least one measure oI pesticide
exposure were demonstrated in nine studies. (Zahm and Ward, 1998)
4 2,4-D, a widely-used phenoxy herbicide, goes by the name Weed-Be-Gone. There
is suggestive evidence that 2,4-D causes cancer. The phenoxy herbicides are
associated with increased risk Ior non-Hodgkins lymphoma, soIt tissue sarcoma
and prostate cancer. A March, 1993 EPA report stated that 2,4-D contained
deadly dioxins, which are stored in Iatty tissue, causing cancer, birth deIects,
miscarriages and reduced Iertility
Hormone Disruption

O While some substances cause physical birth deIects, others can cause subtle hormonal
eIIects on the developing Ietus or aIIect a child's Iunctional capacities. Hormone
disruptors have been linked to many health problems including reproductive cancers. The
drug DES, which was given to pregnant women to prevent miscarriage between 1941-
1971, worked as an endocrine disrupting chemical on the developing Ietus. Decades later,
many oI these DES exposed daughters developed cervical cancer. Twenty-Iour pesticides
still on the market, including 2,4-D, lindane and atrazine, are known endocrine-
disrupters. Aside Irom increases in reproductive cancers, increasing rates oI the Iollowing
conditions are reported. Animal studies link many oI these conditions with prenatal
exposure to hormone disrupting substances.

4 Endometriosis, a disease in which the uterine tissue grows outside the uterus, and
a common cause oI inIertility was virtually unheard oI twenty years ago. It now
aIIects 5.5 million women in the U.S. and Canada, about 10-20 oI women oI
childbearing age. The National Institute oI Child Health and Human Development
noted that only 20 cases were reported in the medical literature prior to 1921.
(Colburn, Dumanoski, & Myers, (1996) Our Stolen Future)
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4 Hypospadias, a condition in which the urethra is near the base oI the penis, not
the end as it should be, has doubled in the last 10 years.
4 Undescended testicles, which is linked with later risk oI testicular cancer, is
increasing. Researchers reported a doubling in cases between 1962 and 1982 in
England and Wales. (Colburn and others, 1996)
4 Precocious puberty in girls is now common. A study oI 17,077 girls in the US
Iound that the onset oI puberty Ior white girls was 6-12 months earlier than
expected and AIrican-American girls experienced puberty 12-28 months earlier
than whites. (Herman-Giddens and others, 1997)
4 Reduced sperm counts are documented. Between 1938 and 1990, sperm counts
dropped 1.5 each year Ior American men and 3.1 per year Ior European men.
There was no decrease in men Irom non-western countries. Low sperm count is a
marker Ior testicular cancer. (Swan and others, 1997)
4 Fertility Problems are becoming more common and now aIIect more than two
million couples in the U.S.

SigniIicant exposure to pesticides is a concern Ior adults, children and particularly expectant
mothers. Garden insects, Ileas, mosquitoes, ants and cockroaches are just some oI the reasons
that women commonly spray pesticides around their home. Pesticides and insecticides contain
chemicals that are used to attack the nervous system oI the insects and cause them to die.
During the Iirst trimester oI pregnancy, the nervous system is rapidly developing in your baby,
so you deIinitely want to avoid any type oI contact with pesticides during this time.
Are agricultural pesticides or insecticides safe during pregnancy?
Some studies indicate that the greatest risk oI exposure to pesticides is during the Iirst three to
eight weeks oI the Iirst trimester when the neural tube development is occurring. II you discover
you are pregnant and you live near an agricultural area where pesticides are being used, it is
advised you remove yourselI to avoid exposure to these chemicals.
33,ls of O3cology, pidemiology, Toxicology ,3d pplied Ph,rm,cology, Jour3,l of
Neuroscie3ce, Occup,9io3,l 3;iro3me39,l Medici3e, and the meric,3 Jour3,l of Public
He,l9h are just some oI the journals reporting associations between agricultural pesticides and
birth deIects, pregnancy complications, and miscarriage.
Are domestic pesticides or insecticides safe during pregnancy?
The saIest rule oI thumb is that pregnant women should avoid pesticides whenever possible. The
CaliIornia Birth DeIects Monitoring Program reports that three out oI every Iour women are
exposed to pesticides around the home.
They also observed that pregnant women exposed to household gardening pesticides had a
modest risk increase Ior oral cleIts, neural tube deIects, heart deIects, and limb deIects. Women
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living within 1/4 mile oI agricultural crops had the same modest risk increase Ior neural tube
deIects.
The 3;iro3me39,l He,l9h Perspec9i;es Jour3,l (EHP) Volume 110 reports that children who
are exposed to indoor pesticides are at an elevated risk oI leukemia. HP adds that the risk is
increased during the Iirst three months oI pregnancy and when proIessional pest control services
are used in the home.
What about organic or natural pesticides during pregnancy?
Almost all toxins used in pesticides are compounds that are naturally present in plants. Although
they sound healthier, the terms organic and natural are not synonyms Ior be99er or s,fer. All
chemicals, including natural chemicals, have the potential to cause harm iI they are not properly
handled. Make sure you read the warning labels on all pesticide and insecticide packages beIore
handling.
Helpful Information on Pesticide or Insecticide Use During Pregnancy:
Below is helpIul inIormation related to pesticide or insecticide use during pregnancy:
O Don't panic iI you realize you have been exposed to a pesticide. Any real risk comes Irom
long-term or intense exposure. II you just treated your dog Ior Ileas and exposed yourselI
to a pesticide, the risks to your baby are small.
O The saIest plan is to avoid using pesticides or insecticides in your home, on your pets, or
in the garden during pregnancy. Especially avoid them during the Iirst trimester when the
baby's neural tube and nervous system are developing.
O II there must be treatment to your home, your pet, or your garden Ior pesticides, Iollow
these guidelines to decrease the likelihood oI exposure:
4 Have someone else apply the pesticides
4 Leave the area Ior the amount oI time indicated on the pesticide package
4 Remove Iood, dishes, and utensils Irom the area beIore the pesticide is used
4 Wash the area where Iood is normally prepared Iollowing any application oI
pesticides in the home
4 Open the windows and allow the house to ventilate aIter the treatment is
completed
4 Wear protective clothing when gardening to prevent contact with plants that have
pesticide on them




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Organic farming is the Iorm oI agriculture that relies on techniques such as crop rotation, green
manure, compost and biological pest control to maintain soil productivity and control pests on a
Iarm. Organic Iarming uses Iertilizers and pesticides but excludes or strictly limits the use oI
manuIactured(synthetic) Iertilizers, pesticides (which include herbicides, insecticides and
Iungicides), plant growth regulators such as hormones, livestock antibiotics, Iood additives, and
genetically modiIied organisms.
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Organic agricultural methods are internationally regulated and legally enIorced by many nations,
based in large part on the standards set by the International Federation oI Organic Agriculture
Movements (IFOAM), an international umbrella organization Ior organic Iarming organizations
established in 1972.
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IFOAM deIines the overarching goal oI organic Iarming as:
"Organic agriculture is a production system that sustains the health oI soils, ecosystems and
people. It relies on ecological processes, biodiversity and cycles adapted to local conditions,
rather than the use oI inputs with adverse eIIects. Organic agriculture combines tradition,
innovation and science to beneIit the shared environment and promote Iair relationships and a
good quality oI liIe Ior all involved.."
International Federation oI Organic Agriculture Movements
Since 1990, the market Ior organic products has grown Irom nothing, reaching $55 billion in
2009 according to Organic Monitor (www.organicmonitor.com). This demand has driven a
similar increase in organically managed Iarmland. Approximately 37,000,000 hectares
(91,000,000 acres) worldwide are now Iarmed organically, representing approximately 0.9
percent oI total world Iarmland (2009) (see Willer/Kilcher 2011)
Soil management
Plants need nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, as well as micronutrients and symbiotic
relationships with Iungi and other organisms to Ilourish, but getting enough nitrogen, and
particularly synchronization so that plants get enough nitrogen at the right time (when plants
need it most), is likely the greatest challenge Ior organic Iarmers. Crop rotation and green
manure ("cover crops") help to provide nitrogen through legumes (more precisely, the ,b,ce,e
Iamily) which Iix nitrogen Irom the atmosphere through symbiosis with rhizobial bacteria.
Intercropping, which is sometimes used Ior insect and disease control, can also increase soil
nutrients, but the competition between the legume and the crop can be problematic and wider
spacing between crop rows is required. Crop residues can be ploughed back into the soil, and
diIIerent plants leave diIIerent amounts oI nitrogen, potentially aiding synchronization. Organic
Iarmers also use animal manure, certain processed Iertilizers such as seed meal and various
mineral powders such as rock phosphate and greensand, a naturally occurring Iorm oI potash
which provides potassium. Together these methods help to control erosion. In some cases pH
may need to be amended. Natural pH amendments include lime and sulIur, but in the U.S. some
compounds such as iron sulIate, aluminum sulIate, magnesium sulIate, and soluble boron
products are allowed in organic Iarming.
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Mixed Iarms with both livestock and crops can operate as ley Iarms, whereby the land gathers
Iertility through growing nitrogen-Iixing Iorage grasses such as white clover or alIalIa and grows
cash crops or cereals when Iertility is established. Farms without livestock ("stockless") may Iind
it more diIIicult to maintain Iertility, and may rely more on external inputs such as imported
manure as well as grain legumes and green manures, although grain legumes may Iix limited
nitrogen because they are harvested. Horticultural Iarms growing Iruits and vegetables which
operate in protected conditions are oIten even more reliant upon external inputs.
Biological research on soil and soil organisms has proven beneIicial to organic Iarming.
Varieties oI bacteria and Iungi break down chemicals, plant matter and animal waste into
productive soil nutrients. In turn, they produce beneIits oI healthier yields and more productive
soil Ior Iuture crops. Fields with less or no manure display signiIicantly lower yields, due to
decreased soil microbe community, providing a healthier, more arable soil system.
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Weed management
Organic weed management promotes weed suppression, rather than weed elimination, by
enhancing crop competition and phytotoxic eIIects on weeds. Organic Iarmers integrate cultural,
biological, mechanical, physical and chemical tactics to manage weeds without synthetic
herbicides.
Organic standards require rotation oI annual crops, meaning that a single crop cannot be grown
in the same location without a diIIerent, intervening crop. Organic crop rotations Irequently
include weed-suppressive cover crops and crops with dissimilar liIe cycles to discourage weeds
associated with a particular crop. Organic Iarmers strive to increase soil organic matter content,
which can support microorganisms that destroy common weed seeds.
Other cultural practices used to enhance crop competitiveness and reduce weed pressure include
selection oI competitive crop varieties, high-density planting, tight row spacing, and late planting
into warm soil to encourage rapid crop germination.
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Mechanical and physical weed control practices used on organic Iarms can be broadly grouped
as:
O Tillage - Turning the soil between crops to incorporate crop residues and soil
amendments; remove existing weed growth and prepare a seedbed Ior planting;
O Cultivation - Disturbing the soil aIter seeding;
O Mowing and cutting - Removing top growth oI weeds;
O Flame weeding and thermal weeding - Using heat to kill weeds; and
O Mulching - Blocking weed emergence with organic materials, plastic Iilms, or landscape
Iabric.
Some naturally sourced chemicals are allowed Ior herbicidal use. These include certain
Iormulations oI acetic acid (concentrated vinegar), corn gluten meal, and essential oils. A Iew
selective bioherbicides based on Iungal pathogens have also been developed. At this time,
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however, organic herbicides and bioherbicides play a minor role in the organic weed control
toolbox.
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Weeds can be controlled by grazing. For example, geese have been used successIully to weed a
range oI organic crops including cotton, strawberries, tobacco, and corn, reviving the practice oI
keeping cotton patch geese, common in the southern U.S. beIore the 1950s. Similarly, some rice
Iarmers introduce ducks and Iish to wet paddy Iields to eat both weeds and insects.

Controlling other organisms
See also: Biological pest control
Organisms aside Irom weeds that cause problems on organic Iarms include arthropods (e.g.,
insects, mites), nematodes, Iungi and bacteria. Organic Iarmers use a wide range oI Integrated
Pest Management practices to prevent pests and diseases. These include, but are not limited to,
crop rotation and nutrient management; sanitation to remove pest habitat; provision oI habitat Ior
beneIicial organisms; selection oI pest-resistant crops and animals; crop protection using
physical barriers, such as row covers; and crop diversiIication through companion planting or
establishment oI polycultures.
Organic Iarmers oIten depend on biological pest control, the use oI beneIicial organisms to
reduce pest populations. Examples oI beneIicial insects include minute pirate bugs, big-eyed
bugs, and to a lesser extent ladybugs (which tend to Ily away), all oI which eat a wide range oI
pests. Lacewings are also eIIective, but tend to Ily away. Praying mantis tend to move more
slowly and eat less heavily. Parasitoid wasps tend to be eIIective Ior their selected prey, but like
all small insects can be less eIIective outdoors because the wind controls their movement.
Predatory mites are eIIective Ior controlling other mites.
When these practices are insuIIicient to prevent or control pests an organic Iarmer may apply a
pesticide. With some exceptions, naturally occurring pesticides are allowed Ior use on organic
Iarms, and synthetic substances are prohibited. Pesticides with diIIerent modes oI action should
be rotated to minimize development oI pesticide resistance.
Naturally derived insecticides allowed Ior use on organic Iarms use include ,cillus
9huri3gie3sis (a bacterial toxin), pyrethrum (a chrysanthemum extract), spinosad (a bacterial
metabolite), neem (a tree extract) and rotenone (a legume root extract). These are sometimes
called green pesticides because they are generally, but not necessarily, saIer and more
environmentally Iriendly than synthetic pesticides. Rotenone and pyrethrum are particularly
controversial because they work by attacking the nervous system, like most conventional
insecticides. Fewer than 10 oI organic Iarmers use these pesticides regularly; one survey Iound
that only 5.3 oI vegetable growers in CaliIornia use rotenone while 1.7 use pyrethrum (Lotter
2003:26).
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Naturally derived Iungicides allowed Ior use on organic Iarms include the bacteria ,cillus
sub9ilis and ,cillus pumilus; and the Iungus Trichoderm, h,r:i,3um. These are mainly
eIIective Ior diseases aIIecting roots. Agricultural Research Service scientists have Iound that
caprylic acid, a naturally occurring Iatty acid in milk and coconuts, as well as other natural plant
extracts have antimicrobial characteristics that can help. Compost tea contains a mix oI
beneIicial microbes, which may attack or out-compete certain plant pathogens, but variability
among Iormulations and preparation methods may contribute to inconsistent results or even
dangerous growth oI toxic microbes in compost teas.
Some naturally derived pesticides are not allowed Ior use on organic Iarms. These include
nicotine sulIate, arsenic, and strychnine.
Synthetic pesticides allowed Ior use on organic Iarms include insecticidal soaps and horticultural
oils Ior insect management; and Bordeaux mixture, copper hydroxide and sodium bicarbonate
Ior managing Iungi.
Genetic modification
A key characteristic oI organic Iarming is the rejection oI genetically engineered plants and
animals. On October 19, 1998, participants at IFOAM's 12th ScientiIic ConIerence issued the
Mar del Plata Declaration, where more than 600 delegates Irom over 60 countries voted
unanimously to exclude the use oI genetically modiIied organisms in Iood production and
agriculture.
Although opposition to the use oI any transgenic technologies in organic Iarming is strong,
agricultural researchers Luis Herrera-Estrella and Ariel Alvarez-Morales continue to advocate
integration oI transgenic technologies into organic Iarming as the optimal means to sustainable
agriculture, particularly in the developing world. Similarly, some organic Iarmers question the
rationale behind the ban on the use oI genetically engineered seed because they view this kind oI
biotechnology consistent with organic principles.
Although GMOs are excluded Irom organic Iarming, there is concern that the pollen Irom
genetically modiIied crops is increasingly penetrating organic and heirloom seed stocks, making
it diIIicult, iI not impossible, to keep these genomes Irom entering the organic Iood supply.
International trade restrictions limit the availability GMOs to certain countries.
The hazards that genetic modiIication could pose to the environment are hotly contested





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