What is up for Michigan Organic
1. EPA Announces Halt to Lindane
for Ag Use
Pests the Problem -- or Pesticides?
3. Vegetable Pest Status Report July 27, 2006 (includes
organic treatments for pest problems)
Grain Farmers More Profitable
5. Costs of Producing Organic Beef
6. New MSU Organic one-year certificate program
Annual Detroit Agriculture
8. SouthEast Area
9. MSU New
is offering a Workshop for Cooperative Strategy
1. EPA Announces Halt to Lindane
for Ag Use
Risk to Children Remains Through
By: Pesticide Action Network
Published: Aug 2, 2006 at 09:07
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EPA today announced the withdrawal of all agricultural products in
containing the pesticide lindane. Environmental health groups around the country
applaud the step, but are critical of EPA's claim to be the best agency in
the world for pesticide regulation, and are calling for phaseout of the
remaining uses of lindane.
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"The phaseout of lindane's agricultural uses is a long overdue step,
especially important to protecting indigenous peoples in the Arctic," says Pamela Miller, Director of the
Alaska Community Action on Toxics, an organization that works closely with
indigenous communities. "We're pleased the U.S. is finally moving to join
the rest of the international community that has already stopped using this
All uses of lindane have already been banned in 52 countries around the
world. Until today, the U.S.
used up to 230,000 pounds of lindane yearly in seed treatment products,
mostly on corn and wheat. The withdrawal allows continued use of existing
stocks of lindane seed treatment products. Lindane use continues to be
allowed for treatment of lice and scabies in pharmaceutical products
regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
"It's about time we stopped using this long-lasting, neurotoxic
pesticide," says Kristin Schafer, Program Coordinator for Pesticide
Action Network (PAN). "We're pleased EPA has finally done the right
thing - but this chemical linked to brain tumors and hormone disruption is
still allowed in lotions and shampoos. We're now asking for the public's help
to get FDA to withdraw lindane's pharmaceutical uses."
Pharmaceutical uses of lindane for lice and scabies have been banned in California since 2002, and legislation promoting
similar bans is moving forward in other states including Michigan
and New York.
"Lindane is no longer allowed on pets or seeds, why are we still
allowing use on kids?" asks Laura McCarthy, Program Associate with
Citizens' Environmental Coalition in Albany,
Over the past three years, a coalition of groups in the U.S., Canada
has been pressing for a phaseout of lindane as government representatives
developed a North American Regional Action Plan (NARAP) under the Commission
on Environmental Cooperation. Mexico
agreed to phaseout all uses of lindane in 2005, and Canada phased out all
agricultural uses in 2004. Lindane was initially targeted for restriction and
phaseout by EPA in 1977, and it is currently being considered for
international phaseout under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic
Pollutants (POPs Treaty).
"All uses of this chemical are already being phased out in Mexico,"
says Fernando Bejarano, Director of Red de Acción en Plaguicidas y sus
Alternativas en México (PAN Mexico). "We're pleased to see that the U.S. is following Mexico's lead in phasing out
lindane in agriculture, and we hope the government will take the next step
and ban use in shampoos and lotions as well."
Lindane is a known neurotoxin that can cause seizures, damage the nervous
system, and weaken the immune system. Exposure may also cause cancer and
disrupt the human and animal hormone systems. Because lindane is highly
persistent and travels globally via air and water, its use poses an exposure
risk to people far from the source. Lindane is one of the most abundant
pesticides in Arctic air and water, and in the face of overwhelming evidence,
EPA has acknowledged that indigenous people in the Arctic
are faced with excessive exposure to lindane through their traditional diet.
The lindane news precedes the controversial announcement expected Thursday of
EPA's reregistration of more than 20 organophosphate and carbamate
pesticides, despite strenuous objections voiced by thousands of EPA staff
scientists who say these chemicals pose unacceptable risk to children's
health. In a news advisory released Tuesday, EPA highlighted lindane's
withdrawal (a 29 year process) and Thursday's controversial reregistrations
as evidence that "U.S.
pesticide safety is the highest in the world." Public health and
scientist advocacy groups staunchly disagree, and are calling for an end to
industry pressure on EPA and FDA government scientists.
2. Are Pests the Problem -- or
For years, chemical companies have had American farmers in
a headlock, but new research suggests they may just be selling snake oil.
American farmers have a serious
chemical addiction, and we're all paying the price. The overuse of
fertilizers produces dead zones in bays and estuaries. Many agricultural
pesticides are proven neurotoxins, as well as likely carcinogens and
endocrine disruptors. The manufacture of these chemicals requires vast
quantities of fossil fuels.
But what if the chemicals are not only
harmful but unnecessary -- even unscientific? What if it's organic rather
than industrial farming that has the hard data on its side?
Traditional farmers generally believe
there's a basic trade-off: Applying synthetic fertilizers triggers rapid
growth in crops but also encourages bug infestations. This perceived tradeoff
has been extremely lucrative for giant chemical manufacturers like Syngenta,
Bayer AG, Dow Chemical, DuPont, and Monsanto, from whom American farmers buy
about $2.4 billion worth of insecticides and fungicides each year. These
corporations offer farmers a kind of one-stop shopping, selling them not only
fertilizers and pesticides but, better yet, seed stock that is genetically
engineered to produce insecticides as well.
For almost half a century, these same
companies have nurtured chemical-intensive agriculture through lavish funding
of academic research, especially in the land-grant colleges, which were set
up by the federal government in the late 1800s to meet the demand for
practical agricultural education. Since the 1960s chemical manufacturers have
spent more and more on the development and use of farm chemicals, to the
point where such funding now accounts for nearly 40 percent of private
industry's annual agricultural research budget of about $5 billion. This
investment has encouraged the view at the land-grant colleges that organic
farming is "unscientific," a boutique niche pursued by a bunch of
But agricultural researcher Larry
Phelan has questioned this pervasive bias. When he arrived at Ohio State
University in 1986, he
tried to interest local organic corn and soybean growers in his ongoing
research into natural pesticides. They told him repeatedly that while their
yields were equal to those of conventional growers, their insect problems
weren't serious enough to warrant spending money on pesticides, natural or
otherwise. Phelan was intrigued: Was there a link between organic crops and
reduced insect damage? When he found that very little peer-reviewed work had
been done on the subject, he decided to take a look for himself at what the Ohio farmers were
saying to see whether it had any scientific basis.
Phelan began by planting corn in two
sets of pots containing soil from neighboring organic and conventional farms.
As the plants matured, he released female moths of the European corn borer (Ostrinia nubilalis) into his greenhouse.
The larvae of this insect feed on the leaves of the corn plant and tunnel
into its stalk and ear shank. In fact, the corn borer is such a pest that it
was the first target of corn genetically modified to produce the Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) toxin.
Phelan found that the female moths
laid, on average, nearly 18 times as many eggs on the corn grown in soil from
conventional farms as on corn grown in organically managed soil. This led him
to wonder if the high levels of decomposing plant and animal matter in
organic soil affected the interaction between plants and insects. After
analyzing individual plant tissues, Phelan suggested that this organic matter
reduces insect outbreaks by releasing nutrients at rates and in proportions
that best meet the plants' needs; synthetic fertilizers, on the other hand,
create a nutritional imbalance that leaves plants more vulnerable to bugs.
For example, a large dose of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium increases a
plant's production of sugars and free amino acids, but fails to provide the
other nutrients needed to convert these simple compounds into more complex
proteins, lignins, and starches. Insects, meanwhile, readily metabolize free
amino acids and sugars and so seek them out. The female European corn borer,
for instance, will drag her rear end (which is equipped with taste receptors)
across the leaves of corn plants until she detects these compounds. And
that's where she will lay her eggs -- where her larvae will have plenty to
Phelan's research suggests that U.S.
farmers' reliance on synthetic fertilizers and insecticides may be based on
an outdated understanding of plant chemistry, and that organic farming methods
can be validated by hard science. Charles Benbrook, a former executive
director of the National Academy of Science's board on agriculture, says that
Phelan was one of the first well-trained scientists to use
"state-of-the-art tools to explore what it is about organic farming
systems that might explain how well these systems often work."
Benbrook says, "It's extremely risky for scientists to step out of the
accepted research structure." It's hard to get funding and promotions,
hard to gain access to peer-reviewed journals whose editorial boards are
dominated by corporate interests. But organic research is gaining legitimacy
and, with it, dollars. Armed with studies like Phelan's, organic farming
lobbyists secured the first-ever direct funding of organic research in the
FarmSecurity and Rural Investment Act of 2002. By 2005 federal funding had
climbed to about $10 million. That's only a sliver of the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's $2 billion research and extension budget, but it's enough to
prime the pump. "Credible, hard science on organic systems is crucial to
justifying more funding," says Mark Lipson of the Organic Farming
Research Foundation, "and with more funding we'll enlarge our body of
science. Growing that cycle of funding and research is essential."
-- Deborah Richt
3. Vegetable Pest Status Report July 27, 2006
Mishanec, IPM Vegetable Program from Cornell University.
This contains info for conventional and organic growers on treatments.
Fields are generally drier than they have been due to the
localized nature of storms that keep coming through the area. All the
crops are later than they normally would be this time of year and it is
putting stress on direct market growers to have product. Tomatoes are just
starting on some farms but on most others, the tomato crop will be later than
normal. Sweet corn, is starting to bunch up with all the hot
weather. Most of the vine crops look good but powdery mildew is
beginning to get a hold on most of the early plantings.
There are a lot of problems all around us. Downy mildew is on Long Island and western NY. Late blight was just
found in western NY and it has been present for a couple weeks on Long Island. This is the time to really go out
and scout your fields so you will be on top of what is happening in your
Last week, it looked like we were starting to have all the corn
insects at once. Corn ear worm (CEW) and european corn borer (ECB) were
starting up and fall army worm (FAW) is being found in isolated
locations. As of today 7/27, the trap numbers for CEW seem to be
decreasing. The highest we found last week was 16 in northern Columbia County. That comes out to be a
little over the 2 per night threshold. This week in the same location,
we only caught on CEW moth. Most other locations in eastern NY from
Orange county up through Washington
County are catching
around an average of one or less per night. We are catching CEW
everywhere but the numbers are low. What does this mean for the corn grower?
Well, CEW comes up on storms from the south. Checking NJ and western
NY, they still have not started to see a lot of CEW. Long
Island is reporting lots of CEW and it seems we are getting
those bugs. Since the numbers dropped off this week, maybe the ones
that came up are the only ones we will see for a while. Check the
weather patterns and if we seem to be getting more storms from the south east
or costal storms, than we will probably get more of the Long Island
CEW. Use your judgment. The CEW numbers are low and no one likes
spraying corn in silk.
The ECB flight has started for the second generation and there are still lots
of ECB in the plants from earlier so it seems still necessary to spray corn
as it comes into tassel. Time your spray as the tassel opens up and put
a second application 3-5 days after the first spray to make sure you cover
the tassel emergence.
As for FAW, if you find them, your tassel spray will probably cover the
problem. FAW are happy in the open eating the leaves and do not
necessarily go after the ear like CEW or ECB.
Scout whorl corn for european corn borer (ECB) feeding damage to get a
percentage of infestation. If you have over 15% damage in whorl,
than a spray when tassel opens is called for. Heat is pushing the corn
at this point and tassel comes along quickly. Make sure you are on top
of the corn and know when your corn is about to tassel. If 30-40% of
the field has open tassels, it's time for a spray. Once the silk comes
out, then you need to be on a 5 day schedule for that too. Not rocket
science but just corn insect management.
Many growers report that Warrior has not been doing the job it once
did. Try different products if this has been the case on your
farm. For organic growers, Entrust will work fairly well against CEW
when the numbers are low. If insect populations skyrocket, than even
hard chemicals have a hard time doing the job.
In some fields we have found bacterial spot on pepper. The
lower leaves have numerous quarter inch and smaller size spots. The
lower leaves Then turn yellow and begin to fall off. Fixed copper plus
maneb is the recommendation for conventional growers and copper alone for
The second flight of european corn borer (ECB) is just beginning. ECB
will lay their eggs on peppers and when the larvae hatch, they will make a
hole just at the edge of the cap. Water gets into the hole and then the
fruit rots. Spintor of for organic growers, Entrust will work
very well in controlling the ECB larvae on a 5-7 day schedule. You can
use Orthene only on non-bell peppers.
We are also finding lots of early blight on lower leaves.
Look for bronze colored spots with concentric rings in them. Sometimes
the spots are at the edge of the leaf and sometimes they appear as small,
quarter inch size spots on the leaf. Early blight is not an aggressive
disease. It comes on when the plant is stressed and in a weakened
condition. This can be environmental or just from a heavy fruit
load. Now with fruit sizing up, it is putting stress on the plant and
along with moist conditions, we are seeing this problem in most fields.
The traditional fungicide for early blight is Bravo but Quadris also dose a
great job in controlling the disease. For organic growers, copper is
the best product to use.
Lastly, not surprisingly, we are finding spetoria blight in some
fields. This disease looks a lot like bacterial spot. There will
be a lot of small, one sixteenth sized spots on the leaves. Check the fruit
for spots. If you see the same small spots on the fruit, than it is
bacterial but if there are no spots on the fruit, than it is septoria.
This is not a serious problem and it is related to the cool, wet spring we
There is a lot of powdery mildew in summer squash. This is
always going to be the crop that gets powdery mildew first. If you have
it located next to cucumbers or your pumpkins, you will be spreading PM into
those crops more quickly than if you had the summer squash isolated. We
have not seen PM in pumpkins yet. Walk into your pumpkins and look for
pail yellow spots on the top of the leaf. Turn over the leaf and you
will see the white powder like spores. Do not start your fungicide
schedule until you find PM in your pumpkins.
From Long Island, there are a number
of fields with downy mildew (DM). This is a serious disease that is
carried by storms to other locations. It used to be fairly rare but we
have seen it now for the last three years. Look for lots of small, less
than a half inch, brown angular spots on your vine crop leaves. After
it lands on your field, the leaves will turn brown and die. On
pumpkins, the stems will be still upright and the leaves limp as if the field
was hit by frost. Fortunately, if spotted quickly, there are a number
of fungicides that will keep the disease under control. Forum, Tanos,
Phostrol, Ranman and Gravel are all labeled for DM. Curzate and Tanos
will have some kick back activity. You must tank mix these fungicides
with protectant fungicides (Bravo, copper, Maneb, etc)
Late blight has been found in western NY and on Long
Island. When you have 18 plus hours of over 90% RH than
conditions are perfect for late blight. Now that we have late blight
close to our region, it is very important to have protective fungicide sprays
already on the plants. Late blight produces large black spots on the
leaves. Sometimes, on the stems, you will see black areas at a stem
where a spore germinated. If you find something you think is late
blight, call your local Cooperative Extension office and have someone
come out to positively ID the disease or call me at 518-434-0016.
Leaf hopper is being found in very high numbers in most fields. Go out
and flop a plant into the row and shake it, than flop the plant to the other
side of the row. Inspect the ground for leaf hoppers that have fallen off the
plant onto the ground. This is an easy way to see what is happening in
the field. We've already started to see some burning on susceptible
varieties. The edges of the leaves will turn dark brown.
Eventually the whole plant will turn brown and die. It's important to
pay attention to leaf hopper because they can seriously decrease yield
without being very evident. For conventional growers, Phaser and Thionex are
the insecticides least toxic to ladybird beetles This is important for
aphid suppression. For organic growers, the options are limited.
Pyganic is the only product that is organic certified that will do the job.
The only other thing being found in potato fields is bacterial black
leg. This is when water gets into a damaged stem and causes the stem to
turn black and rot usually producing a strong smell. You often see this
problem worst in spray rows where the plants are damaged by tractor
wheels. Later in the season, if the heavy rains continue, you will see
black leg as a result of european corn borer damage.
The online version of the 2006 Integrated Crop and Pest Management
Guidelines for Vegetables is now available at http://www.nysaes.cornell.edu/recommends/
to see their book with recommendations that is updated throughout the year.
offers sources and how-to’s for encouraging and introducing biological
4. Organic Grain Farmers More Profitable
Issue Date: July 2006, Posted
On: 7/31/2006 by staff