Pesticides- Are they worth the risk?

In the efforts to control pests from eating our foods, pesticides are used to ward off these insects but at what costs? It is interesting to note that pesticides are poisonous-they kill, that is their purpose. So why would we spray something with poison and then eat it? It seems to be defeating the purpose of even eating if that purpose is for health and strength. “The readers of the old Organic Gardening and Farming magazine saw no logic in spraying poisons on their vegetables… The sad history of pesticide use in horticulture bears their hunches out. One product after another has been found unsafe to use.”(1)

In a recent EPA release they made mention that they will be reversing the previous proposal to “revoke all food residue tolerances for chlorpyrifos.” This was done in the face of extensive scientific evidence “documenting serious harm to children and their developing brains, including increased risk of learning disabilities, reductions in IQ, developmental delay, autism, and ADHD.”(3)

Another study proves similar results in the lives of farmers. “In the first study of its kind, the Victorian-based National Centre for Farmer Health tested a group of farmers once a month over 12 months for levels of cholinesterase enzymes, which are needed for the proper functioning of the nervous system.”(2)

The use of pesticides was introduced as the answer to a growing world to provide food for a rising population and their use has continued in spite of the results to human life and health. Can this really be the answer to grow foods? Today there is more awareness then in the earlier days pesticides. Not everyone is blinded by the promise to end world hunger by using harmful chemicals.

Instead of proving to be a productive means of growing food pesticides with all its side effects proves to be more counter productive. Home and Garden reports that “to this day many pesticides are considered harmful to humans, wildlife, and the quality of soil, water and air, even as they remain in widespread use.”(1)

So how do we treat weeds and pests in our gardens without using these deadly chemicals? Home and Garden gives us some tips to do just that:

“Cultivating, mulching, solarizing and flame-weeding can all be used to reduce or eliminate weeds without herbicides.

Handpicking can keep pest-insect pressure down. You can speed up the process by using a wet-dry vacuum to suck them up. Larger such machines are used on big farms.

Vegetable oil squirted into the young silks of corn ears will banish corn earworms. A strong hose spray will reduce the number of aphids and spider mites.

Spun-bonded polyester covers, set over crops at sowing or transplanting time, can exclude many kinds of garden pests.

Rotating crops will help avoid overwintering insects in the soil, such as potato beetles and carrot maggots. This requires a diversity of crops, but diversity in itself leads to fewer pest problems than one finds with monocultures.

Maintaining soil fertility will help plants repel pests. The more vigorous plants are, the more they are able to produce natural chemicals for pest resistance.

Keeping poisons off the property will help sustain populations of beneficial predators in the form of birds, amphibians and predatory insects.”

1. Damrosch, B. (2017, March 24) Pesticides: a massive problem masquerading as a solution [The Washington Post]. Retrieved from http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20170324/entlife/170329379/

2. Davis, J and McAloon, C. (2017, March 23). Study finds possible link between pesticide exposure and farmer health. [ABC News] Retrieved from http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-03-24/pesticide-study-finds-possible-health-impacts-for-farmers/8382618

3. Gullickson, G. (2017, March 30) EPA Reverses Move To Ban Chlorpyrifos [Succesful Farming]. Retrieved from http://www.agriculture.com/news/crops/epa-reverses-move-to-ban-chlorpyrifos

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