@Psyx -- Re: Luxury item
"...less pesticides and nitrates being pumped into our water table and environment. I view my own health as somewhat less of a motivator than my countryside's."
In a long-winded post further on I argue the case for using a pesticide based on currently available scientific evidence that shows it to be reasonably safe. I did this to show not only how emotive the public discourse on this issue has become but also how woolly some of the thinking behind the arguments actually is. We've now a situation where it's nigh on impossible to have a sensible conversation with an organic farmer (or organic devotee) about pesticides, and on the other side, we've pesticide advocates and manufacturers etc. who think the organic mob is simply wacky. This doesn't solve anything.
The issues surrounding organics and the use of pesticides etc. is substantially more complicated than two opponent sides just facing off and shouting at one another (all that achieves is that the opposing mantras being broadcast from both sides only further confuse the naive public). Moreover, what is of considerable concern is how this Mexican standoff developed in the first place (but that's too big a subject to tackle here). Still, it potentially holds the key for a solution, but the sides are so entrenched and the history so long and involved, that I cannot see a resolution occurring anytime soon.
I've more than just a theoretical interest in the subject, I first used pesticides long enough ago to have seen and used arsenate of lead [PbHAsO4] when it was still an approved insecticide (and in recent years I've used its cousin, arsenic trioxide [As2O3], to kill termites). I used lead arsenate mainly to combat codling moth in apple trees, which I first started to do at about 12 years of age. And I know from the spraying practices adopted back then, I would have been exposed to and absorbed some of the chemical. (Absorbing arsenic into one's system is highly undesirable at any time, but to do so as a child is even worse.)
Before organic advocates and Greenies feint in horror, let me acquaint you with a few facts. Both codling moth and fruit fly can totally destroy crops. Left untreated, an orchard in an area of bad infestation can have essentially every piece of fruit destroyed—nothing is left, I know, I've seen it happen. In such a situation, just one single application of lead arsenate knocks codling moth for six—afterwards the exact opposite is true, one would find difficulty in finding any infestation at all. There's no doubt about it, lead arsenate is devastatingly effective against codling moth, same with Malathion for fruit fly.
Today, no one is advocating putting the double-whammy of both lead and arsenic into the environment no matter how effective an insecticide lead arsenate is. That said, one should put things into perspective. In many places, one cubic metre of backyard garden soil contains enough naturally-occurring arsenic to kill a person! Not that anyone will be harmed by it, but it should be remembered that arsenic is pretty common in the environment.
I am not arguing for one second that there are not dangerous manmade chemicals in the environment and that much of this pollution is not manmade--it certainly is. Also, I'm not arguing for any relaxation of regulations with respect to pesticides etc., in fact I'd argue just the opposite.
As I point out in the latter post, the single biggest problem in this debate is the morbid fear of chemicals and chemical pollution that has griped the population over the past few decades, it's so all-embracing that the matter cannot effectively be part of the public discourse.
My primary concern is about the ignorance and fear that surrounds this debate. Fear of chemicals is so irrational, entrenched and all pervasive within the community that it now seems impossible to move this debate on. As I've said elsewhere "clearly, school chemistry has monumentally failed to educate the public about chemicals". This wasn't once the case, the fundamental questions are why we've developed such fears in recent years and what we can do to allay them.