The Pesticide Cycle

News12 What’s In The Water, Part II: How Much Is Too Much?

On Tuesday, News12 aired the second of its five part series, What’s In The Water? with a discussion of pesticides in Long Island’s groundwater. I encourage all to watch the series, with an additional one hour panel discussion at 7 PM Thursday night.

As per the segment, there are now over 100 pesticides found in our water, many of which were long since banned, but still traceable since they take time to decay. To go further, decayed pesticides often break down into compounds that are still harmful. Pat Dolan, President of News12 news interviewed a potato farmer out on The North Fork who balked at the notion of not using pesticides. The farmers fear that they will make less money without pesticides because they would have smaller crops. They’d favor any solution that didn’t effect them economically.

One pesticide that the potato farmers, lawn care specialists, and green houses use is Imidicloprid. Potato farmers like it because it kills the potato beetle. But it also causes reproductive problems in lab animals, according to the report, and is toxic to bees, birds and fish as well. There are those, especially the 40,000 on private wells, who believe the pesticide contamination is carcinogenic, partially responsible for our high local cancer rates. It would be instructive to have maps of cancer rates on Long Island for various types of cancer, and map that against superfund clean up sites, toxic plumes, and in this case runoff from farms. I think we’d see some maps line up.

The Pesticide Cycle
The Pesticide Cycle

Note then to Long Island farmers: Please consider going completely organic. The profit margins are great, local shoppers would support your efforts, and you wouldn’t be poisoning the water, soil and air for generations to come. I’d be curious to know more about large scale organic farming and how pest control is handled there. I don’t know what pesticides are used to grow wine on Long Island’s North Fork, but maybe it’s a more eco-friendly crop to be growing and a more lucrative one. One would hope so.

What’s in the Water: How Much is Too Much?MATTITUCK – Pesticides are a crucial tool for the farmers on Long Island, but some of the same chemicals that ensure hearty, healthy crops have been turning up in Long Island’s groundwater for decades. Farmer Martin Sidor comes from a long line of potato farmers in Mattituck.

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They deserve it for all the important reporting they are doing about Long Island’s water quality. Tomorrow’s feature is Burden on the Bays, about which Save The Great South Bay has a particular interest.