My Pins

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

I Don't Mean To Alarm You But...

I don't mean to alarm you but.....
I'd like to give you a personal account of chemicals and your food.
There is a local farmer I know and to his credit he is trying some alternative methods in agriculture but his farm which has been owned for five or six generations also still uses chemicals and he likes to point out, and rightly so, there are chemicals and there are chemicals.
(I should point out these are not his sheep they are merely for decorative illustration of our purposes and blog ascetics.) 

The shearer is pretty sensitive to smell and even more so that we are chemical free at home and in garden. The more chemicals, and even scents, regardless of how natural they are, will cause a degree of loss to your sense of smell. Again, the old adage, all things in moderation. 
He was shearing the other week and as the sheep passed from the shearers they were penned below the shed where farm workers were spraying the sheep with a systemic chemical. It's important that sheep be treated for lice and fly strike. As the wind gusted it blew the chemical and the shearer certainly smelt it and was aware of slight tingling about his mouth and nostrils.
When he raised the issue with the farmer he was treated in a very off hand manner ( "I can't smell it" )and when he was pressed for the chemical specs was handed the torn off label from the bucket. As far as the farmer was concerned it was completely safe and if the shearer didn't like it he was free to leave.
Well of course everyone is free to leave but regardless of who you are as an employer, you have a duty of care and that is the law, but I'm not getting into that in this post.

The shearer brought home the label and looked up the specs. What the farmer didn't know is that the shearer has had a lot of chemical handling training. He wasn't looking up anything anecdotal, he only accessed the company's specification sheet. It turns out that this "perfectly safe" chemical is incredibly toxic to a huge range of animal species but particularly to water/marine animals and carries special warnings to prevent the chemical entering any water ways or run offs. The sheep must be withheld for a minimum of  two months before butchering and the wool must not be handled for a minimum of six months. The fact that it is systemic means that it is taken into the system. Protective clothing and eye wear are supposed to be worn and the area well ventilated.
The farmer's own son was spraying this chemical on without protection.

Now my point is this....
Chemicals like insecticides are sometimes necessary in our mono-agri businesses and I think Australia does a pretty good job with the regulations BUT what is the point if those using the chemicals don't know what they are using or how to administer them. The scientists have done the tests and the math and come up with the with holding periods and the danger points but it is only as safe as the user who reads it. 
If a well known and well educated property owner can be so ignorant can we have faith that the food is safe? 

I don't mean to add another notch to your paranoia but I encourage you to try to understand the source of your food and grow as much as you can. Always question and do not follow like sheep just because the guy up front says it's safe. Just because a chemical doesn't have an overwhelming smell doesn't make it safe. And I certainly don't want my man working in a hazardous chemical environment.

This goes for the ordinary householder too. Please for your family's sake try to avoid chemicals and if you can't please be absolutely sure of what you are doing and read ALL the directions including how to dispose of equipment. 


  1. At the very least, it like the agricultural department of a local university needs to host a workshop for the local farmers on proper use of chemicals and the need for protective gear. Agricultural workers here must pass a written test before using any type of spray.

  2. This type of thing is making me so mad...Everyone asks why there is so much cancer about??

    For two weeks now I have been trying vegan and feel 100 percent to what I did before. I watched the documentary Forks over Knives, and that definitely made up my mind. If you haven't seen it and want to watch, it can be found on I am watching a Monsanto doco on this site at the moment...SCARY!

    I try to grow as much as I can, but still have to buy some of the shop stuff. Where we live there is not much choice, organic products are rare and very expensive!

  3. We also have little access to local organic products unless we drive to near(ish) by Daylesford. We also try to grow our own and even have 2 lambs currently we've got for lawnmowing and later for us to eat. They are not organic (treated for lice and worms) although I will be looking into far more holistic ways to manage any parasites in the future. Next time I hope to be chemical free. We do what we can.
    Kudos to the shearer for both his common sense and diligence in reading and I hope that he suffers no ill effects from the ignorance and irresponsibility of the farmer.

  4. Its great that you wrote about this. Since moving to a rural area I am shocked at how much chemicals are used on our food on a regular basis. When people in the city treat organic as a "nice to have" option, I think they would also be shocked to see what chemicals are actually used. In tick areas of QLD cattle are "dipped" (ie have to swim through) noxious chemicals on a weekly basis. I am so glad I don't have to eat that meat any more. Horse people in the city who have to have 100% lucerne - did you ever wonder what happened to the weeds? That hay is full of chemicals too, that's why its so expensive. The best way to get rid of these chemicals is to support organic farmers when ever you can, and grow what you can for yourself. Also you should treat all chemicals as dangerous as even the "safe" ones are just marked that way due to lack of research. Gloves, glasses, P2 mask, overalls and gumboots if you HAVE to use anything that you wouldn't drink.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...