Thursday, March 30, 2017

Do the Pros of Pesticides Outweigh the Cons?

Do the Pros of Pesticide Use Outweigh the Cons?

Pesticides have been used by humans to protect crops since before 2000 BC. Today, pesticide use has become a necessity in the agricultural world. In general, a pesticide is a chemical or biological agent (such as a virus, bacterium, antimicrobial, or disinfectant) that deters, incapacitates, or kills certain pests. Although pesticides have benefits, some also have drawbacks, such as potential toxicity to humans and other species. According to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, 9 of the 12 most dangerous and persistent organic chemicals are organochlorine pesticides. This statistic strikes me as a little worrying when it comes to our health. If pesticides can kill insects, what are the potential dangers they have on our body and the environment?

Even though pesticides are sprayed on land, many times, they can make their way into a water source, such as a river, ocean, or pond. Pesticides affect groundwater by a process known as leeching. Many people depend on groundwater for their drinking supply, yet, if that water has pesticides in it, it is unsanitary and harmful for the people to drink. Another way pesticides can spread and cause potential harm is by volatilization. Volatilization occurs when a pesticide turns into a gas or vapor after it has been sprayed, allowing it to travel through the air and spread to different pieces of land. This can be harmful for wildlife, such as frogs. Some scientists even believe that the pesticide, atrazine, causes reproductive problems in the frogs that affect the frog's ability to survive and reproduce.

Not only are pesticides dangerous to the environment, but they are also hazardous to a person's health. Pesticides are stored in your colon, where they slowly but surely poison the body. Even if you wash a piece of fruit, such as an apple, there are still many pesticides lingering on it and they could have seeped into the fruit or vegetable. After countless studies, pesticides have been linked to cancer, Alzheimer's Disease, ADHD, and even birth defects. Although one piece of fruit with pesticides won't kill you, if they build up in your body, they can be potentially detrimental to your health and should be avoided as much as possible. One way to avoid this is to eat organic fruits and vegetables that are grown using a minimal amount of pesticides. Other than that, there is not much that can be done to avoid coming into contact with potentially harmful pesticides.



Sources: https://www.epa.gov/pesticides
http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/effects-of-pesticides/
http://www.nature.com/scitable/blog/green-science/the_dangers_of_pesticides

Posted by Ross Cavalieri (Group A- Week 7)

8 comments:

  1. It is scary to think about the things we ingest that we don't really know much about such as the chemicals in pesticides. Like you said, even if you wash the fruit or vegetable, the pesticides could still be absorbed into the plant. Also, stronger and stronger pesticides must be developed to counter the adapting species that feed on the plants.

    Posted by Sierra Tyrol

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  3. The title to this blog was so clever because after reading it I was really thinking about if it's worth having pesticides or not. On one hand, pesticides are important to protect our crops from pests so that we can "safely" consume them but in reality the chemicals in them can harm us maybe more than some insects even would. I think it's a hard debate to have about whether the pros outweigh the cons. I also wonder if scientists and farmers could come up with another way to repel pests from crops without the use of harmful pesticides. I don't think it's an easy job but it would be nice to get the best of both worlds.

    Posted by Ana Carolina Nepomuceno

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  4. I've read and watched a lot of things on the use of pesticides on our crops and how it effects us. For example, I watched something last night explaining that just because a pesticide is poisonous to a bug doesn't mean it is poisonous for humans. Kind of like how chocolate is poisonous for dogs, but not for humans. They are also extremely beneficial to people who live in 3rd world countries who can't risk their food being destroyed by insects. This being said, I still do believe that they come with many risks and should be used carefully. I believe there have been numerous pesticides used in the past that originally claimed to be safe for human consumption that were pulled off the market because scientific testing proved differently. It is really hard to trust what people say is safe to consume, when really we're unsure of the long term effects of them.

    Posted by Jordan Milone (C)

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    1. I think your insight to some pesticides only being poisonous to bugs and not humans is important to keep in mind. Pesticides are engineered to target the nervous system of bugs specifically, but could certainly have adverse effects for humans who are exposed to them. More research needs to be done for sure.

      Posted by Ross Cavalieri

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  6. There are highly effective integrated pest management strategies that don't require the usage of harmful chemicals (at least not in such problematic amounts). However, the pesticide industry is unsurprisingly aggressive in its lobbying, especially now in light of the recent EPA repeals. We really don't need to use pesticides in the high amounts that we do, but of course the pesticide industry would have something to say about that. It's frustrating that the greed of a few uncaring people ruin the planet for the rest of us. This isn't anything new, but with regard to pesticides, it's especially frustrating because farmers go to all these lengths to spray their crops and a lot of the yield goes unsold anyway, which seems to render the whole process unnecessary when considering profit loss.

    Posted by Owen Mulledy (C)

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    1. I'm glad you brought up the recent EPA repeals and its effects it could have on the pesticide industry. I fear that the new administration fails to understand that the health of its citizens is highly influenced by the environment in which we live in. But yeah I hope that the agricultural industry tries to do the right thing and shifts towards using safer methods to protect their crops while also protecting the well-being of the people who consume them.

      Posted by Ross Cavalieri

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