Page 36 - RealDirtENG2017newJAN
P. 36
How do farmers know how to use pesticides properly?
We all eat the same food, so it makes sense to take pesticide use seriously. All Canadian farmers must be certi ed to use pesticides that have a label stating “only to be used by certi ed applicators,” though some differences in certi cation requirements do exist between the provinces and territories. Farmers take
courses and attend workshops to make sure that they’re up to date with the latest technologies and farming practices, including following product label requirements. In Ontario, for example, farmers must pass a certi cation exam before they can buy and use pesticides. Their training includes pest management techniques; protecting the environment; avoiding health risks; proper storage and maintenance of application equipment; and the importance of record-keeping.
Farmers must also be re-certi ed every  ve years.63
Most farmers live where they work, drink water from their own wells, and feed their families with the food they produce. It’s in their best interest to use crop protection products responsibly, and in a sustainable way. It also makes economic sense to
do the right thing – pesticides can be expensive, after all, and applying more than what’s needed can be a waste of money.
Jessica Richardson
Could there be another Irish Potato Famine?
In 1845, a strange disease struck potatoes growing in the  elds of Ireland. With no treatments available to save the crop, the disease – a fungus known as “blight” – repeatedly devastated harvests across the island. Because potatoes were the main food source for most Irish people at the time,
the ensuing famine killed over one million people; another million emigrated to escape starvation.
Farmers today still have to contend with blight and other potato diseases. However, they now have the ability to protect their crops with fungicides – a class of fungus- speci c pesticides – and improved genetics. This is a clear case whereby modern agricultural technologies have increased the reliability and security of our food supply.
Pasture and  elds in County Kerry, Ireland.
Do I need to worry about chemical residues in my food?
No. There’s no such thing as “zero” when you’re hunting for residues (or controlling risks), but Health Canada sets the acceptable amount of pesticides a person can eat at least 100 times lower than the safety limit.64 Modern lab equipment and testing methods are so high-tech that they can  nd very miniscule amounts. Where once parts per million were detectable, it is now possible to detect parts per billion or even trillion. The more sophisticated the testing method, the more likely that the smallest of residue traces will be detected – amounts so tiny that they won’t cause harm, but still show up in the tests.
Canadian families save an average of $4,400 a year on food costs, thanks to advances in plant biotechnology and pesticide science. That’s about $60 billion in savings for the country
as a whole.65
The Real Dirt on Farming
Dana Stoyberg
How much is a part per billion anyway?
It’s an extremely tiny amount: one part per billion is the same as one second in 32 years, a drop of water in an Olympic swimming pool, or one blade of grass in a football  eld.

   34   35   36   37   38