The Fruits of Civilization (78) Pesticides

Pesticides

Weeds and pests aren’t just ugly. They’re a threat. ~ American lawn-care provider TruGreen advertisement (2012)

In Nature, there are no pests. Humans label as pests any plants or animals that endanger our food supply, health, or comfort. To manage these pests we have pesticides. ~ American entomologist Keith Delaplane

Weeds are an index of what is wrong – and sometimes what is right – with the soil. Weeds shout out in understandable terms that something is wrong with the direction of decay of organic matter. ~ American agriculturist Charles Walters Jr.

Pesticides are chemicals intended as a biocide: a killer of life. Herbicides are the most widely used pesticide, followed by insecticides and fungicides. Pesticides are most commonly used to protect crops at the expense of all else in the environment.

Chemists concoct pesticides for efficacy on the intended pest. The externalities of pesticides, which are extensive, are an after-thought, if given any thought at all.

Ideally a pesticide must be lethal to the targeted pests, but not to non-target species, including man. Unfortunately, this is not the case. The rampant use of these chemicals, under the adage, “if little is good, a lot more will be better” has played havoc with human and other life forms. ~ Indian pesticide researcher Wasim Aktar et al

The most common pesticides are toxic and carcinogenic to humans. Developed in the 1950s and 1960s, and used extensively since, they ravage all animals’ nervous systems, and are also detrimental to plants.

Malathion is the most common insecticide: frequently used to treat fruit, vegetables, and plants for pests, as well as put on pets to remove ticks. Chlorpyrifos is employed to exterminate termites, mosquitoes, and roundworms. Diazinon is often used on cockroaches, ants, and fleas. All 3 are poisonous nerve agents, injurious to all animals in the same way they kill insects and other little critters, which suffer greater toxicity only owing to their tiny size.

The EPA has allowed chemical companies to register more than 16,000 pesticides without properly considering their impacts. These dangerous pesticides have been used without proper analysis for decades. ~ American environmental scientist Lori Ann Burd

Pesticides sprayed on fruits and vegetables accumulate on the outer skin; but the skin is not an impermeable barrier, and some pesticides are actually designed to be absorbed into the tissue of the fruit or vegetable. The produce most contaminated in the US are strawberries, spinach, nectarines, apples, peaches, celery, grapes, pears, cherries, tomatoes, sweet bell peppers, and potatoes.