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Organic Does Not Always Mean Safe

cartoonlabelThere is a misconception the organic pesticides are always safe for humans and the environment.  However, pesticides are labeled organic because they are derived from natural sources.  Organic farming doesn’t mean pesticide or chemical free.  There is a long list of approved organic pesticides.  Just because a pesticide is OMRI (Organic Materials Review Institute) approved, does not make it safe for humans or the environment.

Read the label and look for signal words.  Danger, Warning and Caution are the signal words you will see on all pesticide labels.  Caution is low toxicity but can still cause irritation to the skin, eyes, and is toxic if ingested.  Warning is medium toxicity if eaten, absorbed by the skin or inhaled.  Danger is highly toxic and is often accompanied by the word “Poison”.  The label will also list hazards to humans and the environment.

Neem Oil is an excellent organic fungicide and insecticide.  It is derived from the Neem tree.  “Caution” is the signal word for Neem oil.  Neem oil should be handled carefully as it can irritate the skin.  It is also a Bee Hazard and should be sprayed at times when bees are not active, before about 8am or after about 5pm.

Another OMRI listed pesticide is Champ WG, which is copper hydroxide.  It carries the signal word “Danger” on the label.  It is corrosive and causes irreversible eye damage, is harmful if swallowed or inhaled.  Personal protective equipment must be worn while mixing, handling and applying this fungicide.  This includes long sleeves and pants, shoes and socks, chemical-resistant gloves and eye protection.

So, do your homework.  Identify your pest properly.  Then choose a pesticide that is right for you.  Read the label carefully and follow it.  The label is the law, literally! 

Use appropriate caution when using any pesticide whether synthetic or organic.

Permanent link to this article: http://okaloosa.ifas.ufl.edu/ag/2013/07/02/organic-does-not-always-mean-safe/

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