Dow AgroSciences suggests we avoid eating the deformed food
June 29, 2008 2 Comments
The Dow website says: ‘As a general rule, we suggest damaged produce (however this is caused) should not be consumed.’
This is an example photo of a deformed tomato plant, via the Guardian:
Example of unhealthy tomato leaves curling inwards, affected by contaminated manure. Photograph: Katherine Rose
Dow AgroSciences would prefer that we avoid eating deformed food, especially if their pesticide got into the manure used to fertilize the garden…
The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has been inundated with calls from concerned gardeners who have seen potatoes, beans, peas, carrots and salad vegetables wither or become grossly deformed.
The society admitted that it had no idea of the extent of the problem, but said it appeared ‘significant’.
The affected gardens and allotments have been contaminated by manure originating from farms where the hormone-based herbicide aminopyralid has been sprayed on fields.
… Guy Barter, the RHS head of horticultural advisory services, said they were receiving more than 20 calls a week. ‘Our advice is not to eat the vegetables because no one seems to have any idea whether it is safe to eat them and we can’t give any assurances,’ he said.
‘It is happening all over the country. A lot of cases we are seeing is where people have got manure from stables and the stable have bought their hay from a merchant, and the merchant might have bought hay from many farmers, possibly from different parts of the country. So they have no idea where the hay came from. So finding someone to blame is quite difficult.’
Maybe hold off on milk and meat for awhile, too?
Shirley Murray, 53, a retired management consultant with an allotment near Bushy Park in Hampton, south-west London, said several of her allotment neighbours had used the same manure bought from a stables and all were affected.
‘I am absolutely incensed at what has happened and find it scandalous that a weedkiller sprayed more than one year ago, that has passed through an animal’s gut, was kicked around on a stable floor, stored in a muck heap in a field, then on an allotment site and was finally dug into or mulched on to beds last winter is still killing “sensitive” crops and will continue to do so for the next year,’ she said.
Although, it doesn’t seem clear that the animals producing the manure are themselves contaminated by the herbicide. We may learn more when the next batch of farm animal offspring are born, but it does seem more likely that the herbicide got into the ‘muck heaps’ than into the animals themselves.
Although, it takes a wretched amount of stupidity to get this far along with the contamination of gardens, so the twit’s not holding her breath…
update: From the Royal Horticultural Society, another photo of a deformed tomato plant and a warning about contaminated manure, with emphasis added to highlight the point about the apparent origin of contamination:
Farmyard manure contaminated with weedkiller residue is causing abnormal growth of vegetable crops throughout the country.
It is believed that the manure has been inadvertently contaminated with aminopyralid. This selective, hormone-type herbicide is used on pastures to control weeds. Manure from animals fed on treated pastures contains chemical residues sufficient to damage susceptible crops.
Gardeners buying this manure to apply to vegetable crops and gardens are coming across abnormal growth particularly on tomatoes, potatoes and legumes, although ornamental plants such as delphinium, phlox and roses may also be susceptible.
Symptoms of damage include distorted foliage, with cupping of leaves and fern-like growth. There are no remedies once damage has occurred and there is no assurance that affected produce will be safe to consume.
and this seems nice of them to say:
However, as this weed killer can be grazed by livestock soon after application there is no reason to believe that children, pets, gardeners or wildlife are at risk.
even if it doesn’t make much sense in the context of the origin of contamination potentially being blamed on the hay consumed by farm animals.
It is a chemical that is destroying gardens across Britain, so the idea that there is “no reason” to be concerned about the possibility of more widespread contamination seems a bit optimistic at this point.
update: Via the Guardian on July 28, 2008:
In May and June, tomatoes and potatoes started showing strange, cup-like and fern-like growth. This classic sign of weedkiller damage was turning up everywhere, making no distinction between the plots of the sprayer-wielding old guard and the organic brigade.
The culprit was tracked back to a new herbicide ingredient, aminopyralid. It clings unexpectedly strongly to woody stems such as hay. Farmers apply it to grassland, to keep down docks and thistles, and then later sell the hay to merchants who sell it to stables or dairy farms. The horses and cows eat the straw, and the stable owners and dairy farmers then sell their manure to allotment owners. Even after all this, it contains enough weedkiller to affect sensitive crops such as tomatoes, potatoes, beans, peas and lettuce.
Dastardly aminopyralid has now been withdrawn, while manufacturers Dow AgroSciences work out what went wrong, but as it took two years to work its way through the chain, there is still an awful lot of dodgy manure out there.
We are advised to steer clear of it for at least four years.