Blog: Mother Earth Heals
by Liora Leah

Mighty Mustard!

Mustard Seeds are being tested as a non-toxic option to weeds and soil-borne pests in farming!

Date:   7/31/2008 9:02:41 PM   ( 13 y ) ... viewed 3008 times

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Mustard to the rescue

The agricultural fumigant methyl bromide is being phased out worldwide under the Montreal Protocol for its damaging impacts on the planet's protective ozone shield. The Bush White House, rather than enforcing a US ban scheduled for January 2005, instead appealed for extentions every year since. The fumigant still is widely used in strawberry fields in California but, as Living on Earth Correspondent Amy Coombs reports, a company called Farm Fuel Incorporated (FFI), may soon have "a non-toxic option available -- ground-up mustard seed." (See "Mustard Can Drive away Pests," PAN Magazine, Spring 2007.) The seeds contain glucosinolates and isothiocyanates, ingredients that give mustard and horseradish their tongue-searing kick and are the natural analogs of methyl isothiocyanate, another soil fumigant. According to Dr. John Kirkegaard, with Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, "biofumigation" with mustard and other Brassica species can discourage weeds and soil-borne pests. Yields of "potatoes, tomatoes and eggplants can be increased by up to 40 percent in some cases," Kirkegaard adds. "Methyl bromide is a general biocide, so it kills pretty much everything," California Agriculture Commissioner Bob Roach told Coombs. But that's a problem because sterile soil becomes easy prey for new pathogens. By contrast, soils treated with mustard seeds maintain biodiversity and actually become healthier. "If tests go well," Coombs reports, "Farm Fuel will begin testing seed meal on large-scale farms next year." In addition to causing ozone depletion, methyl bromide poses substantial human health threats. (from: Pesticide Action Network North America: )  

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