Synthetic pesticides


Synthetic pesticides were introduced to American farming in the 1930s and by the end of the 1940s has proven their ability to increase farm yield multi fold and make the yield more dependable year to year. Today, farmers depend heavily on synthetic pesticides and they are very commonly used for insect control.

So common in fact that in 1997, the US was one third of world demand for the products spending about $11.9 on the chemicals. Two-thirds of pesticides are used in commercial agriculture. As we know now, it’s not always a happy ending with these chemicals. Often times, the environment and our health take a toll for the convenience and abundance attributed to pesticides.

There are four main classes of synthetic pesticides: organochlorines, organophosphates, carbamates and pyrethroids. Short term and long term effects of these chemicals on animals, humans and the environment inform how the chemicals can be used. Most debilitating side effects hit the reproductive, endocrine and central nervous systems. Some damage is irreparable.

Most harmful effects are categorized as acute, delayed or allergic. Acute appear immediately and are often reversible with medical care. Delayed can take years to present, like cancer. While many pesticides are known carcinogens, their actual ability to cause cancer is under debate. Allergic responses affect some people, but not others in varying degrees.

As insects become more resistant to pesticides, new ones are developed and old ones are used in new ways, often combined for greater impact.

While it’s always good to be aware of what you eat and limit exposure to unhealthful influences, the greatest concern for health is still smoking, bad diets and obesity, which cause more problems than synthetic or natural pesticides.

Source: University California San Diego, NYTimes


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