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IMPACT AND ANALYSIS OF THE U.S. FEDERAL ORGANIC FOOD PRODUCTION ACT OF 1990 WITH PARTICULAR REFERENCE TO THE GREAT LAKES

John Bell Clark*

Introduction

 

Much of the non-point pollution of ground and surface water of the American continent comes from agricultural run-off containing toxic pesticide residues and soluble fertilizers. The pollution is a result of chemical-intensive agricultural practices developed and utilized during the last fifty years.1 Chemical "technology" has an overwhelming impact of the Great Lakes bio-region because of the massive exposure of theses irreplaceable and unforgiving fresh water resources to thousands of miles of direct shoreline and hundreds of river watersheds that drain directly into the Great Lakes.2 The State of Michigan, for example has predominant hydrology and geology (permeable soils and shallow bedrock), which accelerate percolation into the Great Lakes. In addition, to direct run-off, both polluted communicating groundwater aquifers into air masses, which then circulate over and precipitate into huge masses of lake water.

Virtually all of the exposure could be eliminated if sounder agricultural practices were being utilized or even encouraged of farm land in the United States and Canada. Instead, the U.S. public accepts the general view that pesticide use is a necessary risk (despite that the majority of the present us is only to achieve "cosmetic" standards) and that pesticides are "economic" poisons that must be tolerated if enough food or fiber is to be produced for a growing population.

This assumption was codified in a pesticide statute, the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA)3. Moreover, pesticides have been exempted


  • Former research scientist and chemistry professor at the University of Notre Dame. Ph.D.,University of California (1964). Postdoctoral fellow and research associate, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Mr. Clark has been operating an 1800-acre pesticide –free-farm with his wife, Merrill,since 1976.
    1.  See generally L. Alenna Bolin, An Ounce of Prevention: The Need for Source Reduction in Agriculture, 8 PACE ENVTL. REV. 63 (1990).
    2.  Great Lakes frontage in the United States and Canada is approximately 70% of the entire ocean shoreline for the United States (west, east and Gulf coast combined).
    3.  Insesticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act, ch. 125, 61 Stat. 163 (1947) (codified as amended at 7 U.S.C. §§136-136y (1988)). The FIFRA allows a pesticide to be registered if "when used in accordance with widespread and commonly recognized practice, it will not generally cause unreasonable adverse effects on the environment.: 7 U.S.C. § 136a(c)(5)(D) (1988).

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Last modified: February 03, 2003