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Organic agricultural products? No such thing, says PhilRice consultant

Contrary to the claims of some sectors, there are no such things as organic rice, organic vegetable and organic fruit, according to a senior consultant of PhilRice [Philippine Rice Research Institute] who served earlier as a professor at UP Los Banos and a scientist at IRRI [International Rice Research Institute].

Dr. Cezar P. Mamaril said that what some sectors claim as organic agricultural products were actually produced with the sole application of organic materials made into fertilizer. Inorganic fertilizers and pesticides were not applied. However, this does not justify them to claim that their products are organic rice, organic vegetable or organic fruit.

Mamaril said that the sole application of organic fertilizer to a particular crop would not result in the production of an organic product like rice, fruit and vegetable because the plants did not absorb the organic materials for their growth and development.

In the strictest sense, he said, there are no such things as organic rice, organic vegetable and organic fruit if you use soil as a medium of growth. This is because the soil itself is composed of inorganic minerals, called essential elements, which are released by soil parent materials during the weathering process.

The essential elements are nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, sulfur, iron, manganese, copper, zinc, boron, molybdenum, and chlorine. These are called essential elements because they are all important for the normal growth of plants such that the absence or inadequate amount of one would result in an abnormal growth of plants.

Mamaril pointed out that in their pure and unadulterated form, organic fertilizers must still undergo mineralization into inorganic ions before their nutrients could be absorbed by the plants. This is because the organic molecules in the organic fertilizer are too large and, hence, could not be absorbed by plants.

For instance, nitrogen in organic fertilizers is still in its organic molecule form. Before it can be absorbed by plants, it must be mineralized or broken down into ammonium or nitrate ions, which are similar to those present in inorganic fertilizers.

The book Hunger Signs in Plants, which was edited by Howard B. Sprague, states thus: "Plant roots take up nitrogen in the form of ammonium and nitrate ions in soil water. Inside the [plant] cells these ions are converted into amino acids, of which there is a larger number. The amino acids are recombined to form proteins."

Ammonium is the dominant inorganic ion under flooded or fully anaerobic condition, while nitrate is the dominant inorganic ion under aerobic or upland condition, according to Mamaril.

In like manner, once phosphorus is mineralized it becomes hydrogen phosphate and dihydrogen phosphate, which the plant can absorb. According to Sprague, phosphates are also parts of certain amino acids that form phosphate-bearing proteins.

Mamaril said soils contain an average five percent soil organic matter like humus; the rest are minerals that exist as inorganic ions. The basic organic molecule contains carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen to which all other nutrients are attached.

Overall, it would be very difficult to justify that the product of plants applied with organic fertilizer is organic rice, organic vegetable or organic fruit when grown in the soil, which in itself is inorganic.

Rather than call it as organic rice, organic vegetable or organic fruit, "it is more truthful to claim that the product is pesticide-free and still sell it at a higher price than those applied with pesticides," asserts Mamaril.

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1 Comments

Blaque said…
it's all a profit for these guys man. Either it's organic or inorganic fertilizers,it will be a profiting podium for these corporations.Just like how they say REAL FRUIT on in the cereals boxes,they will do it with fertilizers to make more profit.