Thursday, May 08, 2008

A Discussion of “How Green is Golf?” by John Barton – Part 4 of 5




“The Activist” Jay Feldman

Jay believes that the use of pesticides in golf is not safe.

He begins by pointing out that pesticide use poses health risks to anyone who comes in contact with them. He goes on to explain the links of pesticide use to hormonal imbalances which place all of us at greater risk to other greater complications like cancer (there has been a speculated link for quite some time). He brings and interesting point up about the idea of combinations of chemicals and even with medications causing us to be at a much greater risk than we realize. If you think about the issue of prescriptions and how pharmacists take so much care to know the other things you are taking to avoid a dangerous reaction between two prescriptions – you can see the potential of what he is pointing out. His feeling is that because pesticide use does get outside the intended target zones at times we are in risk when we often don’t realize (and without any warning to the risk we face).

The most interesting part of his piece is he truly believes that the risk assessment process is flawed. He feels the EPA is often in a position where they never truly understand the risk posed by the pesticide until after the product is in use and that is only through complications through its use do they finally understand the risk.

“So here we are in a realm of having newer and newer chemicals, and as new studies come out, we realize that we’ve introduced new levels of danger, new complexities, and a whole host of effects that the EPA isn’t even looking for.”

Jay believes that if we could simply remove the pesticides from day to day use, we could eliminate the risk. He comes from the viewpoint that public safety supersedes any benefit that products may pose. He believes strongly that organic practices are the way to go and points out the emergence and success of organic farming. He also believes that the agencies have not strong enough and would like to see the golfing public step in and take control over the issue. If educated, they would choose to reduce their exposure by simply saying this is not acceptable.

“Until we get the golfers themselves to engage on this issue, we cannot expect the right thing to happen.”
















“The Environmentalist” Brent Blackwater

Brent established the Golf and Environmental Initiative to try and influence the principles used to maintain golf courses as well as have an impact on where those courses should be built. Unlike many lobbyists, he sees new golf courses being built and contributing to the environment. He sees them being important sources of rehabilitation and reclamations. Where he really deviates from the norm is he has no issue with them being built over a former farm. He sees one of the main key points being the treatment of the non-use section of a course where native species can either be protected or introduced making for a better ecosystem within the property.

His issue comes from losing biodiversity, he feels there are places that golf should simply not go (and for the record I agree), anything that reduces important habitat or compromises water quality is unacceptable.

“An adult male with a large body weight might not be that susceptible, for youths and women of child bearing age, exposure to chemical in even very small amounts at the wrong time can do awful things”

While Brent expresses his concern about the potential link between pesticide use and cancer, he also comes across a little more moderate and doesn’t see a need to ban pesticides like Jay, but instead feels the “realistic” answer is Integrated Pest Management. The idea that you don’t automatically spray, but first identify the source of your problems, understand the reasons and spray sparingly if you need to as a last resort. He still feels that golf needs to go organic as it can and points out to the success in organic food to prove that it is possible to change successfully.

He was asked what golf in a perfect world would be like.

“You would be playing on an organic course. The maintenance equipment would be charged by solar power. Recycled water would be used for irrigation, and used efficiently and sparingly. There’d be a greater variety of wildlife habitats.”

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