There is a misconception regarding pesticidal materials approved for use in organic production, “they are safe to humans and the environment.” As a result many producers are less cautious with the use of these “organic” pesticides. While consumers have a false sense of security regarding the safety of produce grown with these products and the effect on the environment by the alternative production systems. However, ALL products that have the ability to kill or suppress pathogens have the potential to do the same to humans and to have harmful effects on the environment if improperly used. The same is true for conventionally grown producers and produce. For instance, many dusts, a common organic pesticide formulation, can irritate skin or respiratory track in humans and animals through careless use. Ground water can become contaminated with nitrates and phosphates from excessive application of manure and/or chicken litter just as readily as over application of inorganic N and P forms.
Claims are also made that organically produced food is more nutritious than conventionally produced food. Nutritive value of food is produced by the plant and is influenced by many factors including: weather (temperature, sunlight moisture etc.) conditions, soil type and pH, availability of soil nutrients, insects feeding and disease infections, and genetics. Healthy, vigorously growing plants produce highly nutritious produce. If harvested, handled and stored properly, consumers will have excellent quality produce to purchase and consume regardless if grown organically or otherwise. Currently there are no definitive studies which prove one way or the other.
For organic production to be successfully accomplished in Texas, a grower will have to follow a systems approach. The biggest challenge will be in the area of disease control although both insects and weed problems are serious in most areas of the state. Consequently, careful attention to the development and implementation of sound pest management strategies is essential. The information presented in this publication is intended to provide guidelines for developing such strategies. It is not all inclusive and there are other practices available to organic producers, some of which may be more effective than those mentioned in the above. Listed in the appendix are several good references and websites that are available to organic producers.