Daily News Archive
From December 8, 2006                                                                                                        

This Holiday Season, Go Organic With Your Christmas Trees and Wreaths
(Beyond Pesticides, December 8, 2006) While there is a trend towards less pesticide use in Christmas tree production, most trees are still treated with one pesticide or another. In fact, North Carolina State University’s Mountain Horticultural Research and Extension Center, reports that glyphosate was the pesticide applied most commonly. The Center found glyphosate had been sprayed on 94.9 percent of all tree acreage in 2000 (the year of the most recent data).

Symptoms following exposure to glyphosate formulations include swollen eyes, face and joints; facial numbness; burning and/or itching skin; blisters; rapid heart rate; elevated blood pressure; chest pains, congestion; coughing; headache; and nausea. A 1999 study, "A Case-Control Study of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma and Exposure to Pesticides," found that people exposed to glyphosate are 2.7 times more likely to contract non-Hodgkin Lymphoma.

According to the Agricultural Resources Center and Pesticide Education Project in Raleigh, North Carolina, pesticides commonly used on Christmas trees include: disulfoton, oxyfluorfen, sethoxydim, esfenvalerate, glyphosate, simazine and chlorpyrifos – which was “banned” for residential use in 2000, but is still used in agriculture. However, nearly 40 different pesticides are registered for tree production. Oregon, North Carolina, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Washington, New York, and Virginia are the nation’s top Christmas tree producing states.

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 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, Debra's List, Organic Bouquet, The Green Guide, Organic Gift Shop and Taraluna. Happy Holidays!