What is the true cost of pesticide spraying on our ability to grow food now and in the future? (File photo)

Mary Lowther column: What’s the future of growing food?

Commercial fertilizers too, don't put a complete array of nutrients back into the soil

When Rachel Carson predicted a world bereft of insects due to pesticide use, I thought, it wouldn’t be THAT bad; after all there’d be no mosquitos, no fruit flies and no aphids! Therefore, no birds to peck out all my cover crop and eat my berries. Evidently engineers have created mechanical “drone” bees that can fly around pollinating flowers, and we can hand pollinate as well, so we wouldn’t need bees, they say.

“But,” David pointed out, “You said yourself that it takes microorganisms to break down compost and make nutrients available to plants, so wouldn’t pesticides kill them too?” I hate it when he’s right. “And what will break down your compost in the bins I made you, turning it into that great humus you’re always bragging about?” Would all my scraps just sit there like a McDonald’s burger, never deteriorating, looking just the same as the day they dropped into the bin?

Given the continued massive use of increasingly stronger pesticides worldwide by commercial growers, I fear that Carson’s predictions are coming true. Commercial fertilizers too, don’t put a complete array of nutrients back into the soil, resulting in depleted soils that won’t grow crops. I wonder what these growers will do when they’ve completely exhausted their soils. What will they do when their pesticides finally kill everything? There are no new horizons for humans to broach and no new soils to exploit.

If we’re lucky, the pesticides and chemical fertilizers won’t encroach on organic farms and gardens because I suspect that the only food available will be grown by these people. Are there enough of them? Many people balk at the cost of their produce, but growing without pesticides or chemical fertilizers takes more time and money. What will we do when this is all that is available? Hungry people don’t stay hungry for long.

Please contact mary_lowther@yahoo.ca with questions and suggestions since I need all the help I can get.

Lake Cowichan Gazette

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