For thousands of years’ pesticides have been used on crops, to kill and denture animal’s fungi, and weeds from destroying plant life. Early pest control was limited to sulfur and copper which deterred animals and stopped the growth of most weeds and fungus. Ever since these early times pesticides have grown more complex and more deadly, not only to the pests that they are meant to kill but also to the environment and humans. By looking at the evolution of pesticides, we can see they have both positive and negative effects; this is important because pesticides are needed but they also need to be better controlled.
There are three major kinds of pesticides: fungicides, herbicides, and insecticides. Fungicides will kill fungus and mold, herbicides kill weeds and insecticides kill insects and denture unwanted animals. These are important to help maintain a plants health and both fungicides and herbicides have shown little to no negative effect on humans or the environment. Insecticides on the other hand have a noticable for effecting both humans and the environment. Starting in 1942, the insecticide dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane or (DDT) was introduced into the agriculture world. This new pesticide killed almost all pests that came in contact with it, which lead to more crop output each year. This new pesticide received a noble peace prize in medicine as it was considered to be an amazing contribution in public health. However, just a few decades later, “in the early 1960s Rachel Carson’s famous book Silent spring forced Americans to see the darker face of DDT and other pesticides” (Ukessays .web). DDT and other pesticides were found to have severe negative effects on the environment and people. Pesticides are said to disrupt migratory patterns of birds, pollute air and water sources, and limit available food sources for animals. The human health effects are just as bad.
Potential health problems common with insecticides can affect anyone near or around the spraying of these toxins. Pesticides are deadly, “300,000 people die each year from pesticide self-poisoning from all around the world” (Eddleston, Bateman 147). Most cases of death occur later on in life when the person develops a type of cancer from the effects of pesticides. Pesticides enter the body in three ways of exposure, skin contact, inhalation, or ingestion and all can lead to cancer. Cancer might be an unlikely effect of pesticides as millions of people are exposed to them every year and not every person to come in contact with pesticides ends up with cancer. More likely people suffer from irritated skin and throat, coughing, vomiting, headaches. Some more long term effects a person might have is both birth defects and asthma, which usually are with the person for a life time or at least through childhood. Just as the effects of pesticides largely impact humans, the influences on the environment are far more deafening.
Pesticides cause harm to all environmental features which include air, soil, animals and water. Pesticides effect the air in a horrific way, most pesticides are sprayed by crop dusters and less than half reach the ground. This lends to, “the largest amount of the sprayed pesticides settles onto land and water close to the point of application, but the smaller amount swept higher into the atmosphere with the winds, can be carried thousands of miles” (Ukessays.web). The large amount that reaches nearby land ends up eroding the soil and killing off grass life that maybe needed for substance for the animals in the area. Without this plant life present all animals species suffers, as death of one species by a lack of food has a snowball effect that hurts even the top of the food chain. Water is also contaminated when the run off from the fields ends up in the water supply diluting the water and making it unsafe to drink. The now contaminated water has a lower oxygen level leading to the death of fish and plant life that is presence of water. The smaller amounts of pesticide turn into a pollutant that eats away at our atmosphere. This lends to global warming and acid rain fall that occurs when there is an excessive buildup of pollution in the atmosphere that is unable to escape. Other effects of the pesticide being trapped in the atmosphere; rain fall that occurs has small traces of the pesticide still present, adding to a continued destruction of the environment. The destruction doesn’t end here as the pesticide that lands in its projected location still heavily impacts the environment.
There are many negative impacts on pesticides on farms and the effects it has on the environment. One of the most notable is the consequences pesticides has on bees. Bees are being killed and pushed away from farming areas that use pesticides. Pesticides hurt all types of bees and led to, “impairments to foraging success, brood and larval development, olfactory memory, learning, flying behavior, and navigation capacity” (Maxim, Arnold), as well as death. The toxins lessen the queen bees’ ability to reproduce at a high level and of the offspring that are produced they are born at and remain smaller than normal offspring. This leads to less pollination of plants in the area because of the severely reduced population of the bees either it being the death or low reproduction of bees. The reduced amount of pollination in the area result in less plants and trees being grown and stunt the growth of those already have been planted. With all these facts about the negatives of pesticides some may wonder what the other side of the argument may have to offer.
The side for pesticides argue that pesticide regulations have too high of standards and that changing these standards cost too much money, that’s why it’s acceptable to keep pesticides the way they are. The side argues that, “Growers in state spent nearly $2 million per year for the next decade to weed lettuce fields by hand” (Avery). Although that may seem like a lot of money these are billion dollar companies that can easily spend that to help limit the use of pesticides. Aren’t the lives of thousands and a clean environment worth two million dollars. The argument of the standards being too high are, “The health risks from pesticide residues have clearly demonstrated to be immeasurably small or nonexistent. No medical or scientific organization has ever questioned the fact that the health benefits from consuming fruits and vegetables vastly outweigh any theoretical health risk from pesticide residues” (Avery). They clam this but there is countless medical study’s that state otherwise. Asthma is most commonly pointed to being caused because of careless pesticide use and some cancers are attributed to pesticides. Also there are many organic growers of fruit so people would still be able to receive the health benefits of fruits and vegetables without the risks of pesticides.
Pesticides are awful and affect all walks of life and something needs to be done to help reduce the use of them. The benefits of pesticides do not account positively enough to outweigh the negatives. Pesticides need to be at the top of the list for environmental scientists to come up with new effective ways to produce pesticides that have a lower negative impact on the environment. Both pro and con sides for pesticides should work together to find a median that satisfies both parties.