91 Blowing in the wind pesticides can spread kilometres Gut Wilmersdorf lies in the middle of the Unesco biosphere reserve Schorfheide Chorin in northern Brandenburg With its 130 000 hectare surface the biosphere reserve is one of the largest nature reserves in Germany It s an ideal setting for organic farming That s why people were left scratching their heads when weed killer residue was found in organic fennel After all there was no industrial farming in the immediate vi cinity from where the herbicides could have blown over In order to find out the cause of the contamination the Brandenburg State Office for the Environment Health and Consumer Protection had the air quality and tree bark in the surrounding area analysed and made the following discovery the herbicide detected in the fennel evaporates as it is applied it remains in the air for weeks afterwards and can then be car ried over long distances by thermal currents and wind The case of the fennel from Brandenburg shows how funda mentally difficult it is for conventional and organic farming to be conducted side by side After all if pesticides can crop up everywhere having drifted long distances organic farmers have a problem Talking things over with the neighbours or laying protective strips between bordering fields doesn t help And organic farmers can forget about applying for compensa tion for nobody knows who caused the problem It is therefore unacceptable that monitoring for pesticide active substances in the air was halted in 2003 due to insufficient funds After all farmers will find themselves out of pocket if they can no longer market their carefully farmed produce as organic What s more thought needs to be given to the ac creditation system regarding persistent pesticides able to travel long distances We cannot stand by and watch organic farmers pay the price of their conventional farming colleagues use of pesticides Why do plants form pyrrolizidine alkaloids Over the course of their evolution plants have developed many defence mecha nisms to protect themselves against nat ural enemies Thorns or the stinging hairs found on nettles are two such examples Pyrrolizidine alkaloids provide a chem ical defence against natural enemies How widespread is this chemical plant trick Around 3 of all flowering plants con tain pyrrolizidine alkaloids More than 660 different PAs and their derivates were identified in over 6 000 plants PAs are sometimes found in cow s milk honey and bees which feed on plants which contain these alkaloids How do you support our farmers in Turkey on combating PAs I go to the fields walk around the sur rounding area and find out what plants grow there We ve got a very complex plant system on our hands here plant communities change depending on crop rotation weather conditions or location When I discover plants which contain PAs I train the farmers to recognise them and then remove them As I said this is a very complex process There are plants growing at sea level which produce PAs The same plant doesn t have any PAs when it grows in high locations there it poses no problems whatsoever Prof Yıldız Nemli Botanist specialised in herbology A cup of tea with stuffs exhibit between 18 and 69 per cent more antioxidants Whoever buys organic produce can enjoy the proven and tightly controlled qual ity of a good foodstuff But they re also improving the quality of the surrounding cultivated landscape Where people refrain from spraying their crops with fertilisers one can find more animals more plants and more beauty Those who bear this in mind don t allow themselves to be swayed by a press which tends to make a mountain out of a molehill Quality work

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