(Beyond Pesticides, November 27, 2007) While there is a trend towards less pesticide use in Christmas tree production, most trees are still treated with one pesticide or another — many of which are prohibited for residential use. In it’s 2007 survey results, North Carolina State University’s Mountain Horticultural Research and Extension Center, reports that glyphosate was the pesticide applied most commonly. The Center found that almost 90 percent of the state’s tree growers had applied glyphosate last season. The following tables summarize the state’s results, listing the pesticides that are used on at least 5% of the Christmas tree acreage.
Nearly 40 different active ingredients are registered for tree production nationwide. Oregon, North Carolina, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Washington, New York, and Virginia are the nation’s top Christmas tree producing states. Pennsylvania’s Department of Agriculture, which published a list of insecticides for Christmas tree production in February 2007, recommends carbaryl, carbofuran, chlorpyrifos, diazinon, endosulfan, imidacloprid, malathion, permethrin and many more.
Many of these pesticides have been “banned” or have always been prohibited in residential settings, however EPA’s registration process and phase-out deals with manufacturers allows continued use on Christmas trees and other agricultural products. For information on the toxicity of these and other pesticides, visit Beyond Pesticides’ Gateway on Pesticide Hazards and Alternatives (Internet Explorer preferred).
But hope is not lost. Organic Christmas trees and wreaths are available. Debra’s List, a website dedicated to “Green Living” has compiled a list of organic trees, wreaths and local organic tree farms. The Pesticide Education Project in Raleigh posts an online list of organic and sustainable tree producers in North Carolina.
This year, protect your family’s health and the environment by purchasing an organic Christmas tree or wreath. And while you’re at it, let your guests know you care by serving organic food at your holiday dinners and parties, and buy local, organic and fair trade gifts for your loved ones. The following are links to sites selling organic and fair trade gifts this holiday season: Global Exchange, Organic Bouquet, The Green Guide, Organic Gift Shop, Taraluna and World of Good. Happy Holidays!