Some people are becoming more health conscience in these days and are becoming more interested in healthy alternatives such as cutting out meat and dairy in their diets. But are you aware that the manner in which the food is grown even without using poisons (pesticides or herbicides) can reduce the health benefits and even make the food harmful. I am referring to using chemical fertilizers.
So why do we even use synthetic fertilizers? “Synthetic fertilizers supply consistent amounts of precise nutrients to the soil. They act on soil immediately -- unlike organic fertilizers that need to break down before absorption. This immediate efficacy is especially beneficial to dying or severely malnourished plants.”(1) It is believed that the use of chemical fertilizers has made it possible for farmers to feed the increasing population. “When farmers grow crops like corn, wheat, barley, potatoes or rice, they deplete nitrogen from the soil. If they don’t replace it, the soil won’t be rich enough to grow more crops.”(2)
“In 1971, then US Secretary of Agriculture Earl Butz uttered these unsympathetic words: ‘Before we go back to organic agriculture in this country, somebody must decide which 50 million Americans we are going to let starve or go hungry.”(3) This statement is made out of mostly speculation because there is little research to back up such a claim. “Overall, organic farms tend to have better soil quality and reduce soil erosion compared to their conventional counterparts. Organic agriculture generally creates less soil and water pollution and lower greenhouse gas emissions, and is more energy efficient. Organic agriculture is also associated with greater biodiversity of plants, animals, insects and microbes as well as genetic diversity.”(3)
What seemed like an ingenious idea comes with unwanted side effects. “Only about a third of the nitrogen layered onto a cornfield, for instance, ends up in a kernel of corn. The rest washes into streams and leeches into groundwater.”(2)
Here is a list of the harmful effects of using synthetic fertilizers:
1. Long-term negative effects
2. Kill beneficial microorganisms in the soil that convert dead human and plant remains into nutrient-rich organic matter
3. Leach into groundwater and increase its toxicity, causing water pollution and disrupt aquatic ecosystems.
4. Increase the nitrate levels of soil these plants, upon consumption, convert to toxic nitrites in the intestines. These harmful nitrites react with the hemoglobin in the blood stream to cause methaeglobinaemia, which damages the vascular and respiratory systems, causing suffocation and even death in extreme cases (when blood methaemoglobin level is 80 percent or more).
5. Damage the natural makeup of soil in the long term.
6. Plants that grow in overly fertilized soil are deficient in iron, zinc, carotene, vitamin C, copper and protein. (3)
At the turn of the century the man-made discovery of turning nitrogen in the air to usable nitrogen to grow food seemed to be the answer to any food crisis. Today it is more evident that growing food with patience and co-operating with God the creator and sustainer is still the best way to approach the concept of seedtime and harvest.
1. HomeGuides. The Effects of Synthetic Fertilizers. Retrieved from http://homeguides.sfgate.com/effects-synthetic-fertilizers-45466.html
2. Nyquist, E. (2017, April 3). Fertilizer has saved billions of lives, but it also has a dark side. [Popular Science]. Retrieved from http://www.popsci.com/fertilizer-nitrogen
Regionald, J. (2016, August 14).