Introduction to integrated methods in the vegetable garden
Chapter : Fertilization
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⇒ It is easy to cheat in organic farming.
It is very easy to cheat in organic farming; here is an example:
In organic farming, it is forbidden to use mineral fertilisers made by industrialists. Industrial nitrogen fertilisers contain urea or ammonium nitrate. Both of these substances are also present in the manure used in organic farming (urea is a natural substance found in the urine of farm animals).
It is easy to apply urea or industrial ammonium nitrate to an organically cultivated field, or to add it to compost. Urea is very soluble and the granules disappear immediately after a watering. Urea pearls, which can be easily found on websites and agricultural cooperatives, dissolve as quickly as salt or sugar when put in a watering can. Moreover, it is colourless.
If the farmer manages to hide his mineral fertiliser reserves and the purchase invoice, any controller who has the idea of taking a sample of the soil cannot find the origin of the nitrogen. It is interesting to know that the Agriculture Biologique (AB) and eurofeuille (European organic label) labels allow farms to produce both organic and non-organic crops (the biocoherence sector is practically the only one to prohibit this mixing). This is also true for potassium and phosphorus, also present in manure and compost, which can be introduced discreetly in the form of soluble mineral fertilisers into organically cultivated plots. And since there are no inspectors present 24 hours a day on every organic farm to monitor the actions of the farmer and/or his employees, the rest is easy to guess.
The organic sector is protected by certification. But this is done by a private certification body. Some certification bodies refuse to issue certification when the farm presents too great a risk of fraud or contamination from the proximity of conventional farms. In this case, an organic farmer can recruit another body. There are 9 accredited bodies in France. The costs are borne by the farmer and he is free to choose his CB.
The organic sector cannot guarantee to sell products that are completely free of synthetic pesticide residues because their areas are still too small and are subject to pollution from neighbouring non-organic plots. Laboratory analyses can therefore reveal traces of synthetic pesticides in organic products. Who can really certify that synthetic pesticides have not been discreetly used in organic areas so as not to exceed the accepted doses? All that is presented to the consumer at the moment are declarations of good intentions and the existence of controls carried out by authorised bodies. But how are these controls organised? At least one control per year is compulsory on site and there are also unannounced controls; invoice controls to check whether the farmer has bought synthetic pesticides, analyses of fruit and vegetable samples carried out by the DGCCRF... Controls that can therefore be easily diverted, for example, after an inspector has passed by, or pesticides can be applied at night.
Synthetic surface pesticides (such as pyrethroids) can also be used, which, after being applied and destroying the pest, are washed off an hour later, for example, by spraying with a sprinkler. The traces of the pesticide on the fruit will then be very small. As far as mineral fertilisers are concerned, it is technically impossible to guarantee by laboratory analysis that the plants were grown without chemical fertilisers.
I am not accusing anyone in particular or encouraging organic farmers to cheat. I am simply showing that falsification in this sector is very easy.