Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Dr. Mic,
I'm asking specifically about ORGANIC pesticides, not synthetic ones. Organic/natural pesticides are permitted in certified organic gardening/farming. Yesterday I had some organic grapes that gave me a bad reaction. So, needless to say, I'm concerned about organic pesticides as much as I am synthetic ones.
I'm still in the process of tracking down food allergies. So, knowing specifically what I'm being exposed to will help me to track what is causing a reaction. I know for a fact that I have allergies to legume products, which would include the natural pesticide rotenone. There are a couple of other pesticides from other food groups that may also be causing me trouble. Are any of the pesticides listed on the following website used in organic wines? If so, which ones, please? http://www.ghorganics.com/Page44.html Also, if you know that a certain vineyard doesn't use specific natural pesticides or herbicides, it may help me to try wines from that vineyard to see if I can tolerate the one or two other pesticides that may be used.
Thank you for you help.

Mary H.

Hi Mary,

Indeed Rotenone is a plant extract therefore not considered to be synthetic. It is toxic to some animals (fish) and is used in vineyards to get rid of specific worms that attack the fruit early in the season. However its efficient life is very short as it degrades in the sun fairly quickly and therefore should certainly not be present as such on the grapes you eat.
I assume BT on your list is Bacillus Thuringiensis, a bacteria used to combat caterpillar/butterflies. Could not really be counted as a chemical! And there is no known toxicity.
Pyrethrin and its derived products are also a seed extract, easily biodegraded in the sun with low or no toxicity to humans. It is commonly used as an insecticide when needed.
Essential oils can be used too without any known possible harm to humans.

To tell you which winery is using or not a specific product is a real trick as conditions change every year and what is true now may not be next year. So many factors come into play: quantity used, time of spraying, repetition, climatic conditions, nature of soil, type of grapes and then harvest conditions, the winemaking style etc it's a very complex assessment!

On the other hand if you are eating grapes I do not know what is permitted to use as a conservative since this is a different story than wine grapes (few varietals are accepted and growing requirements are different). Usually SO2 (sulfurous gas) is used to keep fruits from rotting.
I hope this helps you!

Dr Mic

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