There is quite a bit of discussion about pesticides, but many people don’t understand the severity of the problems that are developing because of the use of these toxic chemicals. Chemicals are often used in conventional farming to reduce the infestation of bugs and weeds, and these chemicals are having a drastic impact on the health of the population.
There are many types of chemicals that are commonly used in the agricultural industry, and these are some of the terms that you will hear:
1. Pesticides: These chemicals are used to contain any type of pest, and it is a general name for chemicals that are applied to the farming fields. Plant intruders might come in the form of bugs, weeds, bacteria, or fungus. Chemical products that are used to repel or kill these pests are called pesticides. They work by harming the pest through ingestion or contact with the toxic chemicals.
2. Herbicides: These chemicals are designed specifically to kill weeds or other unwanted plants. Some herbicides will kill every plant that they come in contact with, but others are designed to not harm certain plants. The agricultural industry has genetically modified certain types of plants so that they won’t be killed by specific herbicides. This genetic modification allows the fields to be coated with herbicides to kill the weeds, but the crop still grows without a problem. Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup, is the most widely used weed killer in the world. Do you know these products are widely used in yards and gardens across North America, and U.S. farmers spray millions of acres of crops with them each year? Recently, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), an arm of the World Health Organization (WHO), has classified glyphosate “probably carcinogenic to humans.”
3. Insecticides: Often a synonym for pesticide, insecticides are any chemicals that are used to reduce the bug population in the crop. Insects can eat or harm the crop, so insecticides are used to get rid of the insects in order to protect the growth and development of the plant.
4. Fumigants: The process of fumigation is used to completely kill insects that are inside. The area is sealed off and completed filled with gaseous pesticides, causing all of the pests within to be poisoned and suffocate. Fumigation can be used in buildings, soil, produce, and grains. Often, fumigation is used for foods that are going to be exported, in order to avoid the transfer of exotic organisms to other areas.
5. Fungicide: Mold can have devastating effects on crops and plants, especially because mold can grow so quickly and overtake the area. Often, fungicides are used to eliminate mold spores and prevent the mold from spreading or growing.
These chemicals are quite dangerous, and more information is coming to light about how farming chemicals are causing health problems. If you want to protect your health and the health of your family, then it is best to avoid these chemicals as much as possible. Always buy organic when you can, and avoid conventionally grown foods.
In addition to avoiding foods that are contaminated with pesticides, you also need to consider the other sources of pesticides that are in our homes and environment. Many times, pesticides are sprayed inside or outside a house to get rid of insect problems, and they are often used in other public buildings and outdoor areas.
Since these chemicals are used so frequently, they are now found in the soil, seeds, and crops. Researchers are concerned about the growing chemical toxicity in our environment, which makes it harder and harder for us to avoid these harmful ingredients.
One very concerning side-effect of pesticide usage is that these chemicals are killing populations of bees and other insects that work as pollinators. As the population of these insects has dropped, researchers have found that this phenomenon is likely caused by the use of pesticides in farming.
Most of the reports of declining bee population are related to honey bees, and this problem is known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). Beekeepers have noticed sudden, unexplained losses of a large percentage of their hives. Some of the hives have lost as many as 20 – 40% of their population. Additionally, there is a noticeable decrease in the wild bee population as well as butterflies.
Some people who don’t understand agriculture might assume that it is beneficial to decrease the bee population, because these insects are pests. But, the truth is that bees and other pollinators play a critical role in the pollination of crops and wild plants. Pollination is a key factor in many of the world’s crops, which means that a reduction in bees might negatively impact crop yield.
Action needs to be taken to protect the bees and protect our crops. The use of pesticides and other farming chemicals is having a direct impact on the bee population, which has a domino effect on many other areas of our lives.! Dow AgroSciences has recently sided with the Environmental Protection Agency and a highly toxic bee-killing pesticide called sulfoxaflor is awaiting approval. We can’t let this happen. Sign this petition and take action to save the bees!
Resources: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/earth/agriculture/farming/11239764/Why-pesticides-are-so-harmful-to-bees.html http://www.fairlington.org/attach2.htm http://bees.pan-uk.org/ http://bees.pan-uk.org/assets/downloads/Bee_leaflet.pdf