Pesticide Pros and Cons


Without pesticides, many conventional farmers would have trouble growing healthy crops. However, pesticides have been proven to cause disease and environmental pollution.

Studies have shown that pesticides are responsible for several different kinds of cancer, including breast, eye, colorectal and prostate cancer. Children are especially vulnerable to pesticide-related cancers such as leukemia, non-Hodgkins lymphoma, and brain cancer. Pregnant women, too, are at particular risk from pesticides: exposure can lead to stillborn babies and birth defects. Infertility is also a known side effect of pesticide exposure. Eight out of the 27 most common pesticides are proven to be harmful to pregnant women, and 15 of the most widely used pesticides can lead to genetic defects in children.

Pesticide residue is virtually everywhere. When it’s sprayed on crops, it can drift inside buildings, and sometimes the chemicals survive indoors for years. It ends up on sandboxes, playgrounds, and back yards – all places that kids touch. Since babies and toddlers often put things in their mouths, they are at even more risk from pesticides. Residue also leaches into the soil and enters the water supply. It almost goes without saying that we ingest pesticides through the foods on which they’re sprayed.

Pesticides, however, have also been shown to combat disease. DDT has been used to kill malaria-bearing mosquitoes since the 1940s, and has prevented around 7 million cases of malaria since that time. Other pesticides protect people from bugs carrying typhus and bubonic plague.

Modern synthetic pesticides protect the world’s food supply at a low cost, making farming profitable. Currently, pests contaminate 55% of the world’s food supply, rendering it inedible. Pesticides are cheap: companies who use them say they can make $4 in profit for every $1 they spend on these chemicals. Pesticides are efficient: they work quickly and last for a long time. Some farming companies would not be able to sustain their businesses if they switched to environmentally friendly alternatives, because these green pesticides are often more expensive than their synthetic counterparts.

However, the cons seem to outweigh the pros when it comes to synthetic pesticide use. It does no good for a company to be profitable if it’s also damaging the health of those it’s serving. Even if a company doesn’t care about the morals of its pesticide use, sooner or later consumers will turn away from its product, because they will see – and, possibly, personally experience - its negative impact on health.


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