The Benefits of Organic Farming on our Environment & Our Bees
Author: Wholesome Hub Date Posted:13 September 2018
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The use of neonicotinoids in insecticides in non-organic farming has recently been partially banned in the EU due to their devastating effects on bees and other wildlife. Will Australia follow suit? With Organic Awareness Month in full swing,... The use of neonicotinoids in insecticides in non-organic farming has recently been partially banned in the EU due to their devastating effects on bees and other wildlife. Will Australia follow suit? With Organic Awareness Month in full swing,...
The use of neonicotinoids in insecticides in non-organic farming has recently been partially banned in the EU due to their devastating effects on bees and other wildlife. Will Australia follow suit? With Organic Awareness Month in full swing, we’ve decided to take a look at the positive impact organic farming has on the environment.
We’ve discussed previously how organic foods greatly benefit our overall health and wellbeing. They’re free from chemical pesticides, insecticides, antibiotics and growth hormones, and are grown without the use of artificial fertilisers.
But what about the actual farming and rearing of organic fruits, vegetables, whole grains and livestock? It’s perhaps not something we think of as much as the benefits to our own health, but the benefits to the environment are just as good.
What is Organic Farming?
Organic farming, whether of a crop like oats, or an animal product such as beef, is farming using natural methods. It harks back to the days before intensive farming practices, mega farms and dairies and the reliance on chemicals to grow food became commonplace.
Some might argue that the world needs such large scale farming.
BUT DESTROYING SWATHES OF LAND, STRIPPING ECOSYSTEMS AND NATURAL HABITATS AND POISONING WILDLIFE ISN’T SUSTAINABLE.
Instead of chemical fertilisers, organic farming uses natural animal slurry to enrich soils and feed crops. And instead of chemical insecticides and fungicides, organic farming makes use of nature to protect crops from predators. It uses natural predators of crop destroying predators to defend crops. Farmlands and hedgerows flourish with wild flora and fauna and since monocrops are avoided, soils naturally replenish and maintain their natural rich and fertile nature. Local waterways aren’t flooded with runoff containing these chemical nasties from nearby farms, meaning that the water stays properly oxygenated and can support its own ecosystems and wildlife.
Organic farms are slow to start. It takes time to work the land and protect valuable crops from predators. Without the routine use of antibiotics, animals can be at risk of disease, so steps must be taken to protect them from potential diseases from nearby farms. Plus, without artificial growth hormones, animals grow at a natural and steady rate before being sent to slaughter.
But organic farming outputs do move in line with those of non-organic farming eventually.
AND CRUCIALLY, ORGANIC FARMING IS MORE SUSTAINABLE AND WON’T DESTROY BEAUTIFUL AND NATURAL HABITATS IN THE YEARS, DECADES AND CENTURIES TO COME.
Organic Farming and Bees
Perhaps one of the most devastating effects of large scale non-organic farming is the plight of our hard working bees. Go into your kitchen and most of the produce in your cupboards and fridge is there because of bees. Bees and other pollinating insects such as some butterflies (and wasps, believe it not, wasps aren’t just BBQ ruining pests, they do have a role in pollination too) are responsible for the growth of so many common foods.
Without bees, farmers would have to go around pollinating millions of trees, bushes and crops in order to supply food. A never ending, and totally impossible task. Without bees, we wouldn’t have tree fruits, berries, avocados, beans, pulses, legumes, grains, oils, citrus fruits, stone fruits, figs, nuts, vanilla, COFFEE (!!) nor a million different types of vegetables.
So it’s saddening to know that governments around the world have allowed the widespread use of the bee killing group of insecticide chemicals known as neonicotinoids. Neonics for short.
OUR BEES HAVE BEEN IN DECLINE FOR MANY YEARS.
Scientists have proof from a robust Swedish study that neonics negatively affect bee populations. Seeds used to plant new non-organic crops, are often coated in neonics to prevent them being destroyed by insect pests. The neonics are then absorbed by the whole plant, which the bees are then exposed to as they innocently go about their business of collecting pollen, which we take full advantage of in terms of food production. (Both from pollinated crops as a result of the pollen being transferred from one plant to the next, and from the honey the bees then go off and produce!)
NEONICS CAUSE DEVASTATING DAMAGE TO THE CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM OF BEES.
This causes paralysis, and death. We don’t find it easy to even type those words.
Yet Bayer, the largest supplier of neonic containing pesticides continues to fight talk of a worldwide ban using their very large army of very expensive lawyers and very influential lobbyists.
Bayer also happens to be the same company who own Monsanto. Who in turn, produce Roundup, the world’s most common weed killer, that has been labelled by the World Health Organisation as a ‘probable carcinogen’. Yet is cropping up in our breakfast cereals, and the breakfast cereals we feed our kids…
The good news is that the EU has recently placed (an albeit partial) ban on the use of neonics. Canada has announced plans for an 80% ban on their use.
BUT THE BAD NEWS IS, NEONICS ARE NOW THOUGHT TO BE HAVING THE SAME EFFECT ON BIRD POPULATIONS.
Neonics are building up to such high levels in certain environments, that swallows, starlings and thrushes are all now at risk, and could potentially reduce in number by 35 percent in the next decade.
Australian beekeepers are now calling for a ban on the use of these insecticides, before it’s too late. Only time will tell what our government plans to do. You can help by signing a petition calling for their ban.
The Future of Farming
With a vast gap between global food supply and global food consumption, we need to produce food. We know that to feed the worlds ever growing population, we need to be supplying food as efficiently as possible. Unstable food security around the world is of great concern.
BUT WE ALSO NEED TO BE PRODUCING FOOD SUSTAINABLY.
Using no end of chemicals and artificial growth hormones to grow crops and rear livestock as quickly, as often as un-naturally, as possible isn't the answer. Neither is putting the lives of our natural farmers - our bees - at risk, for the sake of cheap, mass produced crops.
The future is organic. The Wholesome Hub is (virtually) piled high with organic goodies, from pantry staples to indulgent treats. So fill up with us, the future of the planet is dependant on you.