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November 2017

Myth of pesticide
in our crops

            Our way of producing food has
changed in recent years. All the food we eat has been diagnosed with
pesticides. Whether we know it or not the food we eat aren’t really “healthy” as
we may think. We are always in such a rush to notice what is really behind our
food or the process it must go through before it gets to us the consumers. Pesticides
in the crops we eat are dangerous to our health and to the environment. Wonder
may be wondering what are pesticides? Pesticide is a dangerous chemical used in
agriculture to kill weed, unwanted plants and insects. We buy the food we want
to eat assuming it is fresh when really, we don’t know what farmers used to
produce the food.  We just aren’t
concerned when we really should wake up and take a stand for the food we
eat.  Most people don’t know that the way
our food is engineered has changed, there is no such thing as “natural” or
“healthy” foods we can buy from the local stores we go to. By not doing
anything about this we are just supporting farmers with the way they grow our
foods and letting them continue with methods that are dangerous. We are
supporting farmers because we are the ones demanding more food, more food that
can’t be organically grown to feed everyone.  Growing organic food cost farmers a lot of
money and more time needs to be invested to take care of goods that are grown
organically that is why organic food is more expensive. That is why farmers are
modifying our food. There is a lot we can do to stop all this, to put an end to
pesticide use. Pesticide is a substance that kills insects or plants to get
more production from crops. The chemical and physical characteristics of
pesticides vary greatly. Some pesticides are highly effective in the
environment and others not so much, but the process in which they break down
might be harmful to plants and animals. Pesticides usually target specific
pests or weeds but the chemicals may be toxic to non-target organisms such as
the person spraying the chemical or man himself. There are fears as well, that
some pesticides can cause birth defects and cancer in people.  In the farming industry, pesticides are
classified into two categories, carcinogenic and non-carcinogenic. A carcinogenic
pesticide is an agent producing or causing cancer. A non-carcinogenic pesticide
is substance that does not cause cancer.

What ever happened to fresh food that was
fresh and non-GMO (genetically modified organism)? Will we ever live in that
era to see our foods produced the way they should with just natural
fertilizers? I’m most certain we won’t, we won’t because we live in a world now
where making money is way more important than taking care of our own. It would
be a huge turnaround to go back to how farming was back then when we wouldn’t
harm ourselves or the environment. Where we didn’t have a huge growing
population that demands more and more food. People wouldn’t want to grow their
own food in their backyard because it’s a long process. They prefer to just go
to the store and buy it. Growing our own food would be a good idea but people
wouldn’t go through with it. so, what do we do about this whole situation since
people wouldn’t want to grow organically, do we just deal with the issues it
brings and risk our health? Recently, diseases such as obesity, Alzheimer’s and
ADHD have risen due to the GMOs in the food we are eating, but are we really
taking precautions?  The real answer is
no, most Americans are always in such a rush to really get well informed about
the food they are buying. If the grocery store has what they want then they
will pay for what they want without reading the label.  The FDA doesn’t require goods to be labeled
as GMOs but we are humans and deserve the right to know what is in our food. If
more people were aware of the issues then I am certain that the FDA would set
high standards to the way our food is labeled and people would be more aware of
what they are buying before they buy it. 

Industries that produce pesticides would
oppose to banning the substance. Just how they opposed when Rachel Carson stood
up to the world and brought justice to what she believed in.  Farmers would oppose to because they would see
a decrease in production, it would require more labor work to the crop. It’s
understandable that we have been using pesticides from quite some time now and
taking a step back to old times would be an endless controversy. The only
people we can rely on currently is our local farmers, our local farmers don’t
use pesticides and most of them are against using pesticides in their crop
productions. People still rather go to their local grocery store and buy
“fresh” food. As a witness of pesticide use in our crops, I get to see dead
fish alongside streams or rivers.  Dry
plains of dead grass from all the chemicals that are being used. A question may
be, “how does pesticides used in crops by farmers hurt the environment’? Pesticides
that are used in crops by farmers harm the environment in many divergent ways. One
is by aircraft, the aircraft fly’s over the land where the pesticides are going
to be used, the aircraft drops the pesticide and falls into our freshwater
lakes or rivers. Farmers aren’t concerned since it benefits them, it benefits
them in many ways. One way is that pesticides are meant to kill off insects
that are not letting the plants grow to its potential, it kills weeds and other
plants that harm the productivity of the plant.  Another is that with pesticides, farmers don’t
have to worry about losing production in the crop. Pesticides take care of
letting the crop fully develop without harming it. That water is now filled
with pesticides and is used to water the crops. It kills our fish, our
wildlife, it changes the ecosystem. Rachel Carson was a Marine biologist who
was concerned about these issues in mid 20th century. Many of what
we know now would have been unnoticed if it wouldn’t have been for Carson’s
research, she was very well concerned about the environment and it was because
of Carson that DDT was banned.  Carson
was also an activist whose voice was to be heard by corporations producing
pesticides. Carson wrote a book called “Silent Spring” which caused many
concerns about the way the substance(pesticides) was affecting our environment.
According to Rachel Carson, “when the fish at clear lake were also analyzed the
picture began to take form- the poison picked up by the smallest organisms,
concentrated and passed on to the larger predators. Plankton Organisms were
found to contain about 5 parts per million of the insecticide.” (Carson, 47)
when a California lake was sprayed with pesticides it affected the whole
ecosystem at the lake. Carson fought companies to have a dangerous substance
called DDT. DDT was a dangerous chemical used in crops in the mid 20th
century. It raised many concerns after people got informed of how this chemical
was destroying wildlife. 

            Farmers are also affected by the
process of spraying. Many of the farmers aren’t trained to spray the crops and
are unaware how dangerous it is to not wear unprotected clothing. “The
high-risk groups exposed to pesticides include production workers, formulators,
sprayers, mixers, loaders and agricultural farm workers. During manufacture and
formulation, the possibility of hazards may be higher because the processes
involved are not risk free. In industrial settings, workers are at increased
risk since they handle various toxic chemicals including pesticides, raw
materials, toxic solvents and inert carriers” ( Aktar Wasim 2009) When I was
younger I would help my cousins spray pesticides on corn fields not knowing any
knowledge of what it would do to me or the consumers. My face would turn red
and I would get bad allergies and wouldn’t be able to breath correctly. Now I
am fully aware of what this chemical is capable of. When we would spray, I
wouldn’t stop sneezing, I would take medicine to finally have the ability to
breathe correctly. I can’t imagine how bad it must be for farmers who use the
chemical every day, who must deal with the atmosphere and breathe the same air
every single day. Are farmers aware of this issue? Damalas stated, “In
developing countries, farmers face great risks of exposure due to the use of
toxic chemicals that are banned or restricted in other countries, incorrect
application techniques, poorly maintained or totally inappropriate spraying
equipment, inadequate storage practices, and often the reuse of old pesticide
containers for food and water storage” (Damalas 2011). In other countries, such
chemicals are banned because of the issues caused by such a substance. Workers
are also non-concerned about this issue. If it kills insects and other living
organisms then how is it not going to hurt us? We consume it from the food we
buy, we breathe it from low flying aircrafts that are spraying agricultural
farms near rural areas. No one tells us how dangerous it is when low flying aircrafts
spray pesticides in urban areas.  We should
be more concerned than ever not for ourselves but for the farmers that must
deal with the effects of this chemical.  Farmers
are more likely to get depressed from close contact to the agent when spraying the
crops. According to Bienkowski, “No one knows what triggered Peters’ sudden
shift in mood and behavior. But since her husband’s death, Ginnie Peters has
been on a mission to not only raise suicide awareness in farm families but also
draw attention to the growing evidence that pesticides may alter farmers’
mental health”. Many of the farmers are unaware of what this substance can do,
all the effects that it has on everything, on our food, air, water, people and
environment. This farmer committed suicide, not familiar with what pesticides
were doing to him. 

debate that buying organic food is better, they assume that because its labeled
organic that really its organic as the label says. Truly, many consumer goods
labeled “organic” aren’t what they say. Food is easily labeled organic because
the FDA doesn’t have a lot of rules on food, they can’t analyze every bash of
food that must be analyzed. Rachel Carson states, “As to the safety of allowing
a sprinkling of poison on our food- a little on this, a little on that- many
people contend, with highly persuasive reasons, that no poison is safe or
desirable on food. In setting a tolerance level the food and drug
Administration reviews tests of the poison on laboratory animals and then
establishes a maximum level of contamination that is much less than required to
produce symptoms in the test animals” (Carson, 181). Even Carson was well familiarized
with the standards that the FDA set. It wasn’t difficult to get bypass the FDA.
That’s why if fresh fruits are “organic” as they are labeled, they might not be
as they say. Farmers partly use pesticides in “organic” foods. Since its
labeled organic, the price for food is higher. Should we be familiarized with
what is happening? Of course, we are the consumers and if we keep buying their
products everyone is happy. It’s a cycle that keeps generating money. We demand
crops, farmers demand more pesticides to companies such as Monsanto. Who
benefits from this? Larger corporations selling pesticides, regardless of how
they are making that money, even if they are hurting people and causing harm to
everyone. If they were so concerned about the issues then they would find a
less effective way to harm human health and the environment. This cycle
consists of money and if they would try to find good methods to benefit
everyone then they probably would be the ones losing. It’s now a huge factor of
business and making money in this type of business consists of making money
regardless if it’s hurting people. If they are making millions and millions
from A product then they are going to keep on making it, so what if they hurt
the environment? So what if people are getting sick? It’s a much easier way to
produce food in the 21st century. That is the way these large
corporations think, they don’t care about the dangers of what they are
creating, making profit is considered being successful regardless if you hurt
the environment.   If we were to all take
a stand and grow our own fruits and vegetables, it could be a small start that
can have a huge impact on these corporations.

            There are many solutions to these
issues that some will agree and others disagree. One solution would be to ban
pesticides and to find an effective method that won’t harm humans or the
environment. This change would be a loss for farmers because they would see
less agriculture production but there would be alternatives for the future of
farming. A sustainable method such as organic farming, the prices for food will
go up but foods will be “healthy”.  Farmers
will oppose to these methods and blame urban people for having our lawns green
and weeds free, yet still using pesticides, which farmers are right, many of
our homes are sprayed with some form of pesticides to kill insects or to simply
keep them away from our homes. We use pesticides to spray weeds in our garden,
even though pesticides are expensive we still buy them without realizing that
when it rains the left-over agents flow to our creeks. That there are birds and
other animals around our lawns. We really don’t realize that we all contribute
to the use of pesticides. When we think of pesticides we right away think of
farmers and blame them for the causes, we blame them for all the diseases, for
killing bees and the disappearing of wildlife.  Which in this instance farmers are part of all
these causes. Not realizing we are also part of the controversy.

            When we think of farming we think of
the person that provides our food to the local market, we don’t debate on which
food to buy rather than go for the food that is cost effective. We don’t check
the labels but rather the price of the food, if we don’t start getting more
involved in the way our food is processed then I don’t think we will do much
good to our health nor the environment. Soon our soil will be filled with
pesticides and won’t be any good to produce agriculture. The future of
agriculture will be different. We will need alternatives to continue farming,
farming that will be different. We are harming our environment, slowly. Though
we may not realize it but unfortunately, we are.   “How could intelligent beings seek to
control a few unwanted species by a method that contaminated the entire
environment and brought the threat of disease and death even to their own
kind?” (Carson 8) Carson was an important role figure from the mid 20th
century who knew what would happen in the future if we didn’t find an
alternative. We haven’t had a change, we are using the same methods we have
been using for decades. The only change is that there is more use of
pesticides, more food being grown. What’s it going to take for us to realize
this issue?  What are we going to do when
all our soil is contaminated with pesticides that can no longer be useful to
produce?  When all our irrigation is
contaminated with chemicals and we won’t be able to drink it or use it to
produce?  That’s as far as we are going
to have to go for everyone to realize it’s time to stop by then it will be too
late to turn back around. There are a few alternatives that we can accommodate
to. Like coming together and finding new ways to farm, methods that won’t harm
the environment and wildlife. A method efficient enough that can let our soil
produce without harming it for the future of farming. Or, finding a new
replacement to pesticides, instead of dealing with the problem with a dangerous
chemical, specialist should find a solution in the seed that will prevent weeds
from letting the growth of the seed be affected by the way it is supposed to
fully develop.  The change in changing
the way we farm is now, to stand up to companies like Monsanto to stop selling
modified seeds that need pesticides to fully develop, to stop selling round up
and other harmful products. People wonder why if pesticides are so dangerous
why haven’t they been banned by the government or why haven’t farmers stopped
using them? The demand for food productivity has been outrageous, farmers can’t
produce the food we demand without the use of pesticides. According to Maarten
Elferink, he states, “Food demand is expected to increase anywhere between 59%
to 98% by 2050. This will shape agricultural markets in ways we have not seen
before. Farmers worldwide will need to increase crop production, either by
increasing the amount of agricultural land to grow crops or by enhancing
productivity on existing agricultural lands through fertilizer and irrigation
and adopting new methods like precision farming” Can we do something about it?  Currently we are already demanding more and
more food. By 2050 more people will have healthy issues, more of our wildlife
will have to find a new environment. Farmers need bees but pesticides keep bees
away. This conflict could be a reason of the disappearance of bees. We are only
to blame for this cause, the more people the more food productivity we demand,
farmers have no other choice but to meet those needs, and to fulfil those needs
they need to use a substance to enhance our agriculture. More than 70% of the
food processed in the U.S. is genetically modified. Should we be concerned
about this? Of course, because the process our goods must go through is
outrageous.  Farmers must calculate how
much pesticide to use in the crops when it’s time to apply the dose. If they
use too much then it will not only kill unwanted critters or other weeds but
the plant itself. The farmer will lose production and be at loss. Not only are
our food modified but the seed itself is modified to withstand the spray of
pesticide because the pesticide is just too strong for the plant. Are these
modifications bad for our health? They aren’t just bad for our health but for
the environment, all the water waste from the left-over pesticides that get
carried on in irrigation. The fish that live in these streams are dying off,
birds that drink the water, we drink the water assuming its purified. According
to Climatologist Professor LaDochy, “Pesticides affects the air, water and
land. Depending on the type of pesticide, such as the organochlorides, they may
be very persistent and remain in the environment for long periods of time. They
also bio-magnify, that is they become more concentrated the higher up the food
chain they are passed, from herbivores to carnivores” ( LaDochy).  

Overall, pesticides are dangerous in the
methods of farming. Many people agree that we need to find a new method to
produce food and stop large corporations from making such a harmful chemical. Scientist
themselves are concerned because they know what the future will look like if we
continue to farm the way we are currently farming, if we continue to kill our
wildlife and push animals to live in new environments. If we continue to
pollute our water with left over pesticides or from aircraft sprayers. There
won’t be much to do when our soil won’t do us any good because it will be
filled with dangerous chemicals, when we won’t be able to drink our own water.
It will be chaos all because of one substance, all because corporations selling
the product couldn’t make a new less harmful product, but the product does do
what it is supposed to do and that’s abolish weeds or insects, but not only
weeds or insects are affected by this and by now everyone should be familiar
with what this chemical can do, what it is currently doing. So I say let’s
change the way we are currently living on, lets change it for the good of
mankind, to not only think about ourselves but of our wildlife, to have our
rivers clean and not from chemicals that are going to harm us or the critters
we share this wonderful world with. We can change this, if Rachel Carson took a
stand by herself and made a huge change, why can’t we?


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