The Downsides of Pesticides | Teen Ink

The Downsides of Pesticides MAG

September 28, 2011
By Emilyyy BRONZE, Frederick, Maryland
Emilyyy BRONZE, Frederick, Maryland
2 articles 0 photos 10 comments

Favorite Quote:
"The mind has a thousand eyes,
And the heart but one;
Yet the light of a whole life dies,
When love is done."

----- Francis W. Bourdillon

Pesticide use is very common, but few realize how dangerous the chemicals in them actually are. The government allows liberal use of pesticides without regard for the consequences. I believe pesticides should be banned because they don't work, they're bad for the environment, and they can be harmful to humans.

Research shows that pesticides don't work very well. Even though pesticide use has increased almost tenfold in the past 50 years, crop yields have not. Actually, crops lost due to insects have nearly doubled. It's clear that even though pesticides aren't doing what they're designed to do.

When large amounts of pesticides are used, the target pests become resistant, making them ineffective. The point of using pesticide is to decrease crop losses, but when they don't work, it's a waste of time and money. In one instance, when farms in Sweden reduced their pesticide use by 50 percent, their crop yields actually increased slightly.

The benefits of pesticide are also offset by some serious environmental damage. Pesticides are often broadcast-sprayed over a field or forest. As a consequence, numerous non-target organisms are affected. Pesticides often kill beneficial insects like honeybees and ladybugs. Though bees may seem like tiny and seemingly insignificant insects, if they disappear, the ecosystem will be hugely affected. Bees pollinate dozens of crops, so if they are destroyed, these plants won't produce food.

Not only do pesticides harm bugs; they can harm animals too. Years ago, the widespread use of DDT and other chlorinated hydrocarbons sickened predatory birds, disrupting their ability to reproduce and driving the bald eagle to near extinction. If predatory birds disappear, the number of prey animals will surge and change the ecosystem. Thankfully, DDT has been banned for years.

What's really scary is that only 25 to 50 percent of pesticides applied by aircraft reaches the target area, while the rest is dumped onto the environment, hurting unintended animals instead of the intended pests. Clearly, pesticides can harm plants and animals far more than they help us.

Many don't realize pesticides are harmful to humans too. Pesticides contain poisons that often have unintended effects on people. One example of how potent and toxic pesticides can be occurred in Bhopal, India, in 1984. In this tragedy, 2,800 people were killed and more than 20,000 were seriously injured by methyl isocyanate vapor, a chemical used in agricultural insecticide. Unfortunately, even though chemicals contained in agricultural insecticides may affect the health of millions of people, pesticides are still used today.

In addition, pesticides always leave a residue on the surface or inside the crop treated. Humans who eat those crops end up with pesticide residue in their body. Studies show most people and animals have traces of pesticides in their fat tissue. The government has set standards for the amount of pesticide residue allowed on food, but these are useless since we don't know how much residue humans can consume before experiencing negative side effects.

Health organizations have different standards for pesticide use, which proves that no one knows how much residue is safe. The government standards for pesticides might be wrong. Either way, we still can't be certain that we're completely safe, because people's diets differ around the world. Currently, most standards target an average adult. In the end, pesticide use can harm people, no matter how carefully we try to set standards. The only thing we can do is stop the use of pesticides.

Some will contend that pesticides should be allowed because they're helpful. They believe pesticides increase crop production, prevent harvested foods from spoiling, and even prevent human illnesses. However, safer and more natural ways to eliminate pests exist. For example, destroying plants after harvest denies pests food and shelter, causing them to naturally die off. Crop rotation (planting a different crop on a field each year) prevents an too many of any one pest from developing. We can even control them by using their natural enemies, or breeding crops that are resistant to pests. By employing a combination of natural pest-control methods, we could eliminate pesticide use without any negative impacts on crop production or human health.

Pesticides are unnecessary chemicals that harm plants and organisms far more than they help. Not only do pesticides not work effectively, they damage the environment and harm people. Pesticide use should end and replaced with more natural pest-control methods. The use of these dangerous chemicals is out of control and needs to be stopped now.

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This article has 4 comments.

bellasue said...
on Mar. 26 2015 at 10:39 pm
My employer sprayed 2 bottles of termite pesticide in our dental office and I have become ill. I have to get the doctor to say it was caused bythe pesticide which attorneys say is hard to prove.I am paying my own doctor bills due to someone elses stupidity. I am ill everyday at work and breathing in bug spray fumes. It reeks of Termidor SC

bluemidnight said...
on Jul. 23 2014 at 4:49 am
Don't forget pesticides used on  the lawn are also toxic (includes insecticides and herbicides).  Who wants to sit or roll around in nerve-toxins and hormone changing chemicals? A lot of communities in Canada has already ban them, but in the US, our government is heavily lobbied and influence by pesticide industries.  However, more US communities are starting to restrict them in certain areas!  

on May. 2 2012 at 4:02 pm
In France a lot of farmers are getting cancer from the pesticides being used on the crops, especially vineyards. 

yardi girl said...
on Nov. 1 2011 at 7:09 am
What a terrific article.  So well put, with lots of complicated information set out clearly - and passionately.  Well done to the author!