Pesticides are poisons. The raison de etre for their manufacture is their ability to kill! They can kill harmful insects that destroy crops and they can kill humans if they are ingested in sufficient amounts.
When pesticides were first manufactured, they were certified to be perfectly safe for humans. Time has tested this certification to be false. Pesticides can kill humans with the ease with which they kill crop destroying insects! The Environmental Protection Agency have been active since 1996 creating awareness that organophosphates are risky for children.
Facts about Pesticides
DDT was considered very safe in 1950. However, 30 years of usage brought with it a realization that DDT in non biodegradable. It remained in the soil and was absorbed by the plants grown on the soil. It reached humans through the food that was produced and consumed. Deposit of DDT was found in the fatty tissues of humans. DDT was then banned. However, the ban did not extend to products that were made using DDT such as linadane, dieldrin, chlordane and other chlorinated hydrocarbons!
EDB(Ethylene dibro-mide) which was used as an insecticide in 1950s was reviewed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and found to be extremely carcinogenetic, mutative and toxic for the reproductive system. It was banned in 1984.
The action of Methyl Parathion and azinphon methyl were reviewed in 1999. Residues were found in food and declared harmful for children.
The EPA also reviewed Chlorpyrifos or Dursban during this year. They negotiated an agreement with the company to stop the manufacture of the product by December 2000.
DIAZINON which was used in home gardens for several decades was banned by the EPA in December 2000. Statistics show that more than 15 million pounds of this pesticide was marketed annually in the US alone. All pesticides used inside homes were also banned as harmful to the system.
Pesticides contain around 1200 inert ingredients which have remained untested over the years. Recent studies by the EPA have indicated that more than 122 can be carcinogenetic and are the cause of birth defects, neurological disorders and other health problems.
Studies published in Toxicology and Industrial Health asserts that the natural mix of chemical pesticides and fertilizers even in concentrations that are found in ground water can be harmful. The immune system, the neurological systems and the endocrines systems seem to be negatively impacted by the presence of pesticides. Another study by the Canadian Institute of Child health has revealed that pesticides have not been evaluated for their impact on brain development. The study also points out that there has been a significant 25% increase in the number of cases of cancer in children since 1975.
The fact that pesticides are still being marketed is surprising! Data collected from market sources by the EPA show that 38 million pounds of Roundup (containing herbicide glyphosate) is being used in the USA annually. Residues of this herbicide have been found in lettuce, barley and carrots planted in soil that was sprayed with Roundup a year earlier. The FDA found 38 percent pesticide residues in grains, 29 percent in fish/shellfish, 60 percent in fruits and 29 percent in vegetables.
It is estimated by the USDA and the FDA that a million children under the age of five, under normal diet, ingest organic phosphate pesticides in excess of the acceptable limits for adults. Data shows, that these children ingest up to eight kinds of pesticides daily. An apple can contain between 8 to 10 types of pesticides. Canadian strawberries are grown using around 300 pounds of pesticides per acre of land per annum.
Today there are more than 7000 kinds of pesticides in use in Canada. In California where use of pesticides is the largest (25% of the use), there has been a 151 percent increase in usage of agricultural pesticide during the period spanning 1991 to 1998.
Studies have also revealed that about 67 million birds die due to pesticide ingestion.
The sad fact is that we are destroying soil at unimaginable rates. It takes about 3000 years for nature to create a mere 6 inches of top soil. We destroy 1 inch of top soil by use of pesticide and our current agricultural practices every twenty eight years. About 40% of the land being used for agriculture in the world has shown degradation. Erosion, nutrient depletion and soil compaction are considered to be significant contributory factors. World food production has doubled in the last fifty years largely due to widespread use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
While the use of pesticides has shown some decline since 1900, the reasons are not directly relatable to awareness of the harmful nature of pesticides. The farming population has declined from 39 percent in 1900 to 16 percent in 1950 and 2 percent in 1990. Despite this, the world faces the horrific reality that our farms are not producing safe food any longer
Links to pesticide articles: