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Were any of you shouting at the Tennessee Gardener program this morning?

Posted Sunday, March 6, 2011, at 11:44 AM

To use the comedic style of a well known comedian, If you were shouting at the TV this morning, you may be organic, or at least have a good memory, are well informed and hate misinformation.

Don't get me wrong, I love the show on PBS but as they were discussing the garden of a local TV meteorologist the hostess made a small comment about controlling squash bugs with Sevin.

OK, that is a frequent recommendation by from current conventional wisdom for insect control and I cringed when I heard it not once but twice as the solution of choice, but what sent me off the edge was the very quiet description of the insecticide as a "benign" product.

BENIGN?! The word benign has meanings of gentle, kind, harmless, pleasant and in all fairness it has a less known meaning as self-limiting or even beneficial.

But in my world benign means the first few words, so I came unglued when I heard that used to describe Sevin insecticide. Sevin is a poison folks. One of the ingredients is a "poisonous gas, methyl isocyanate (MIC)

Have you ever heard of Bhopal, India? Ever heard of the over 2,000 deaths and 200,00 injured that resulted from a methyl isocyanate leak at the Union Carbide plant in 1984?


I am not prone to cursing but Sevin is benign my A**. Do a Google search for Sevin and you will find it being marketed all over the place. Then add the word poison to the search and the results start to get concerning.

Here is a note from a blog several years old that shows both sides of the coin so you decide for yourself it you want to use the product. ""Sevin--an insecticide manufactured by Bayer CropScience in Research Triangle Park--is widely BELEIVED to be safe. There are 68 formulations approved for use in North Carolina on everything from lawns to pets, and millions of pounds are applied each year in the United States. But Sevin's active ingredient, carbaryl, is in fact a potent NEUROTOXIN and suspected CARCINOGEN, and federal regulators are currently considering restricting its use."

Millions of pounds of this stuff are applied each year, in addition to millions of pounds of other poisonous stuff under different labels. Sounds like progress to me.

I have a very good friend who loved to work in horticulture and ran a successful lawn and garden service, until he could no longer function from Parkinson's Disease. Just a coincidence? Google Parkinson's Disease and insecticides. 'Nuff said?

Those who think I am crazy probably still support DDT and think asbestos is safe for home use, so I don't think I will change any of their minds. But if I have at least caused you to stop and think about it, I will take that as a small, positive sign.

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When I moved back to this area after being gone over twenty years, one of the first things I noticed was the liberal use of Roundup and other chemicals like it.

The other thing I noticed was how often the word "cancer" appeared next to names on the church prayer list. Coincidence?

-- Posted by cats4me on Thu, Mar 10, 2011, at 6:49 AM

I occasionally give in to some man-made solutions myself, but what bothers me is the public being mislead that products are absolutely safe, only to find out years later that there was no way someone did not know it was just the opposite.

Even my beloved organic solutions have some drawbacks and can be poisonous,so people need to research and be sure they know what they have before they take someone's word for a product being benign.

E, I hope you are feeling better. I was on a plane last week and think I picked up something. More reasons not to fly anymore.

-- Posted by stevemills on Sun, Mar 6, 2011, at 8:39 PM

I use sevin sometimes, but as a last resort. I would never call it organic.

-- Posted by espoontoon on Sun, Mar 6, 2011, at 3:42 PM

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Steve Mills and his wife have one daughter. They previously owned two coffee/ice cream shops, currently operate an internet sales company and teach classes, but his primary job involves the paper industry worldwide. Hobbies and interests lie in gardening, photography, recorded music and of course, their pets.