The 1995 definition of organic production by the National Organics Standard Board notes that “Organic agriculture practices cannot ensure that products are completely free of residues; however, methods are used to minimize pollution from air, soil and waters.” These methods include buffer zones between conventional and organic fields, a three-year waiting period before previously non-organic land can be used for organic crops, and placing organic products in storage on the higher shelves to avoid cross contamination from non-organic products.
Products are tested by certification agencies for contamination:
- If there is a complaint.
- For regular spot-checking of certain crops.
- If there is any evidence of contamination.
What does all of this mean? Consider this: Will the pesticide residue from non-organic farming still be in the soil 3 years later when the soil can be used for organic farming? ABSOLUTELY! At least, that is what the current research indicates. Therefore, there will definitely be pesticide residues such as arsenic in the soil for the crops to absorb.
Though the steps taken for organic farming do not totally eliminate the problems created by pesticides, they are a huge step in the right direction. If soil used for organic farming could never again be used for non-organic farming, then we could hope that eventually the crops would have absorbed all of the residue that they can absorb. Then we could hope for pesticide free produce. However, if farmers are allowed to keep switching the placement of the organic and non-organic crops, then the problem will persist.