Mythbusting 101: “Don’t say it – spray it”

In my bio, I claim to be a ‘mythbuster’ of sorts.  I like to clear up misconceptions about agriculture and food production. It amazes me what kind of nonsensical information gets circulated and how readily some people believe it.

Today is the first in my series entitled “Mythbusting 101.” I was inspired by a discussion on Facebook that centred around one particular photo.  Brian Scott (The Farmer’s Life) circulated the photo with the comment: “I hate out-of-context garbage like this. Especially when I see how many people *like* and *share* these things. There is absolutely no context given as to what is going on here.”

I couldn’t agree more.

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Mythbusting 101: When you see pictures and words combined like this, channel your inner skeptic. This photo is grossly misleading (and this is just one example of many that are out there).

Although we can’t find the original source of the photo (it was posted on FB through Anti-Media), we are certain that this guy is not spraying water. He is spraying a pesticide. Labels on pesticides provide instructions on how to SAFELY apply these products (including ORGANIC approved pesticide products as they are toxic too). This ‘gear’ is standard protocol when administering any pesticides to crops (organic or otherwise). And… this photo has NOTHING to do with GMO foods, or labeling for that matter. In fact, this man appears to be spraying flowers or nursery stock of some kind.

A photo with the accompanying text like this is an example of what I call ‘misinformation in action’. Someone (a ‘myth-monger’ as I refer to them) is intentionally (sometimes unintentionally) misleading people.

We need to think critically about how food makes it from the field to our plate. Food is a very personal thing. That means that we need to also think critically about what we see and read about ag and food production. We should ensure that we are interpreting the information correctly and that the information *we* share with others is accurate.

If you are not sure, ask someone. Ask a farmer. Ask Brian. And make sure to check out the comments below. I was delighted to have others weigh in with their opinions on this matter.  I like to call this ‘crowd-sourced mythbusting.’ :O)

7 thoughts on “Mythbusting 101: “Don’t say it – spray it”

  1. This is the only statement I would have to disagree with:

    “This ‘gear’ is standard protocol when administering any pesticides to crops (organic or otherwise).”

    As a licensed applicator, I can’t think of any pesticide I use that requires full-body coverage and a respirator. The photo not only misrepresents GMOs, it misrepresents pesticide use. This applicator must be spraying something other that your run-of-the-mill pesticide, something in the restricted use category, perhaps?

    If you read labels, you’ll find typical PPE for applicators goes something like this:

    For all formulations and all use patterns – mixers, loaders, applicators, flaggers, and other handlers must wear:
    • Protective eyewear (goggles, faceshield, safety glasses)
    • Long sleeved shirt and long pants
    • Shoes plus socks
    • Chemical resistant gloves

    Yes, you read that correct: No body suit, no respirator, just long pants, sleeves, glasses and gloves.

    The vast majority of pesticides–and all over the counter varieties–are pretty safe.

  2. Since we have no idea where the photo originated from, it could be from a different country. Maybe the country in question has more stringent safety protocols. Maybe they require a respirator even to spray water! I know that many companies also have their own internal safety protocols. So if an MSDS sheet states you can wear your clothes and Goggles, the companies own policy could insist that standard PPE is a full body suit! Why? Because these days, if someone gets a stain on their pants, they can turn in the dry cleaning bill to the company for not issuing proper protective gear. However, no matter what crazy theories one can come up with, I really can’t think of anything crazy enough to explain the heck that photo has to do with GMO’s. The statement simply doesn’t make any sense!

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