PesticidesAre the current Governmentregulations for pesticide use infarming sufficient for healthy living? Bonnie Gallea February 17, 2012
What are Pesticides?• Insecticides- Chemical substances used to kill insects• Herbicides- Chemical substances used to kill weeds• Fungicides- Chemical substances used to kill fungus• Rodenticides- Chemical substances used to kill Rodents
EPA testing is done by toxicologists overseen by lawyers.A pesticide is bannedwhen it:• Poses an unreasonable risk to humans or the environment.• Has a common active ingredient with others that are toxic.• Has high exposure risk- one time or multiple times.
More Regulations…• The EPA also lists how a pesticide is to be used, how often it can be used, and any protective clothing or equipment needed.• The EPA re-evaluates active ingredients in pesticides every 15 years.• They have the power to place a pesticide on restriction if there are questions. However, those restrictions don’t stop the use entirely.• The EPA requires over 100 different studies and tests before approving a pesticide.• Pesticides are regulated by both the States and the EPA.
Chemical Pesticides• Organophosphate , Carbamate , Pyrethroid - all affect the nervous system of insects• Amino Acid Inhibitors, Photosynthesis Inhibitors, Synthetic Auxin, Growth Regulators, Cell Division Inhibitors- all categories of herbicidal pesticides• Mancozeb, Tricyclazole, Carbendazim, Hexaconazole, Metalaxyl , Benomyl just some of the contact fungicides (kills when sprayed on the surface) and systemic fungicides (absorbed through the plant) that exist.Over 1 billion tons of pesticides are used every year
• Currently 900 commercial pesticides are approved for conventional farming.• Toxic in large quantities.• Accidental food contamination.• Can damage crops trying to protect.• Reduction of beneficial organisms.• Changes the natural balance.• Drifts to contaminate livestock.• Ground water contamination.• Resistance of crops do to overuse.
• Endocrine Damage- thyroid, hormonal, reproductive, and metabolism• Cancers• Nervous System Damage• Liver Damage• Irritation to Skin and Eyes• Vomiting, diarrhea, slow heart rate• Birth DefectsMost health risks are associated with farm workers orimproper use although many studies have been donethat support endocrine damage to children fromexposure to pesticides in food.
• Reduced deforestation-better crop yield less land needed.• Reduction in fertilizer used- less fossil fuels• Pesticides enable farmers to till less (less weeds) in turn causing less soil erosion.• Food production has increased 20-50% over the last 40 years.• Less water needed to produce crops.• Disease control-from insects, fungus, and toxic weeds.• Protecting livestock from insects and rodents.• Cost effective-more money for the farmers, better prices in the grocery store.
• New testing is being done to determine if foods are grown organically or conventionally. They test nitrogen and oxygen content.• Independent researchers funded by the U.S. and other governments are testing pesticides for endocrine disruption as well as other health risks. The EPA’s testing is limited in scope.• New techniques in pesticide free farming are being tested around the world.
Billions of dollars are spent every year fororganic food and what are their benefits if any?• Nutritionally, conventional and organic foods are the same.• 20 organic chemicals are legally used in the production of organic foods, the quantity of which is not recorded. Although natural, many of these chemicals still have risks.• Because manure is often used instead of fertilizer there is a higher incidence of pathogens, such as E.coli.• Organic yields are much less therefore more land would be required.• Consumers pay more without actually getting more.
• Green Pesticides- biodegradable, safe, natural methods are being explored. Some use cow’s urine, plant leaves, shellac, sucrose, and even yeast to maintain and improve crops. These would be less toxic to humans, animals, and the environment.• Transgenic Crops- genetic engineering is being used to build crops, making them disease resistant, able to stand up to fertilizer better, create deeper root systems, and increase yields. Lowering the need for pesticides.
Are the current Government regulations for pesticide use in farming sufficient for healthy living?• There is substantial evidence that pesticides improve our quality of life, allowing many people around the world access to an abundance of healthy food.• Pesticides have been proven to reduce the need for fertilizers and to stop deforestation, increasing production and lowering the risks to global warming.
Are the current Government regulations for pesticide use in farming sufficient for healthy living?• Disease control is an important aspect of pesticides also. The Black Plague and the Irish Potato Famine are both linked to thousands of deaths and could have been prevented with pesticides.However…
Are the current Government regulations for pesticide use in farming sufficient for healthy living?• The EPA’s process of placing a pesticide on restriction for months or even years before making a determination of it’s toxicity creates potential health hazards.• Pesticides can damage the environment as much as they help, changing the natural balance and reducing the beneficial organisms.
Are the current Government regulations for pesticide use in farming sufficient for healthy living?• Organic food is an option for some but not for all, cost and availability are prohibitive. They still have traces of pesticides, some of which are legal, and their nutritional value is virtually identical.• The health risks associated with pesticides are substantial especially for those who are young or sensitive.
Are the current Government regulations for pesticide use in farming sufficient for healthy living?• Chemists and geneticists are working to improve our pesticides as well as our crops grown. Much more research and development needs to be done in this area. Finally…• The government regulations designed to keep us safe work far too slowly. We need to continue to push for better options.
ReferencesSwaminathan, N. (2007, April 14). Testing the Authenticity of Organic Foods. Scientific America. Retrieved from http://www.scientificamerartiican.com/cle.cfm?id=organic-food-authenticity-test. The author of this article discusses a test being developed in the UK to determine nitrogen content. They are also attempting to find the levels of oxygen and copper in hopes of testing food for organic or conventional methods with some degree of accuracy. I can use this article to help show the differences between organic food and conventionally grown food.Colborn, T. (2009, April 27). EPA’s New Pesticide Testing is outdated. Scientific America. Retrieved from http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=epas- new-pesticide-testing-outdated The author of this article discusses the EPA’s current testing procedures for pesticides. He contends that the tests are outdated and limited, not taking into account endocrine-disrupting pesticides. I can use this article to show other testing methods and their problems.
ReferencesRaloff, J. (2005, November 23). Organic doesn’t mean free of pesticides. Science News. Retrieved from http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/6800/title/Food_for_Thought__ Organic_Doesnt_Mean_Free_of_Pesticides This article is about studies done, some by college chemistry students, that show that the pesticides we used decades ago and are now banned still work their way into our food through the skin of root crops. It also shows that there is small differences in the organically grown from the conventionally grown but not significant. This article is of some use but mostly background information since the studies were limited in scope.Cone, M. (2010, August 18). Toxic Pesticide Banned after Decades of Us. Environmental Health News. Retrieved from http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=toxic-pesticide-banned-after- decades-of-use The article is about the use of a pesticide called aldicarb used on citrus, potatoes, dry beans, peanuts, soybeans, sugar beets and cotton. This pesticide, now banned, can cause vomiting, diarrhea, twitching muscles, and slow heart rates; the manufacturer will be ending distribution of the product by 2017. I can use this article to support increased regulations.
ReferencesMoyer, M. (2010, February 22). How to make more food with transgenic crops. Scientific America. Retrieved from http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/2010/02/22/how-to-make-more- food-with-transgenic-crops. This article is about genetic engineering of plants to reduce the need for fertilizers and pesticides. The author states that they are trying to breed varieties where the root runs horizontally in the ground instead of vertically in order to take advantage of phosphorous in the soil and to protect against erosion. I can use this article as an example of the wave of the future and to support the reduction of pesticides.Prosser, E. (2011, August 11). Nutritional differences in organic versus conventional foods: and the winner is…. Scientific America. Retrieved from http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/2011/08/11/nutritional-differences- in-organic-vs-conventional-foods-and-the-winner-is. This article is a systematic review of studies in the differences in organic vs. conventional food. The results were of the 162 studies reviewed 55 were satisfactory in content and research and showed no significant difference in Vitamin C, magnesium, potassium, calcium, zinc, copper or phenolic compounds. I can use this article to show there is no real difference in nutrition of organic verses conventional food.
ReferencesCone, M. (2010, June 10). Endosulfan to be banned, pesticide poses unacceptable risks, EPA says. Environmental Health News. Retrieved from http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=endosulfan-banned-epa This article is about endosulfan, a pesticide used to kill mites on vegetables, it was reviewed in 2002 by the EPA and restrictions were added. This airborne pesticide has been deemed a very high risk to farm workers and bystanders by the EPA and now after 10 years it is being banned. I can use this article to support more regulations.Chameudes, B. (2011, December 2). On Food Environment and Choices. Scientific America. Retrieved from http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=on- food-the-environment-and-choices. This article discusses the link between better farming practices, use of pesticides, and fertilizers to climate change. As the population grows, he suggests we might need as much as 2.5 million acres of land cleared for food and in turn that would lead to climate change through increased fertilizer and fossil fuel use. I can use this article to support better farming practices through the use of pesticides.
ReferencesKent, J. (1992). Pesticides in Agriculture. The Regional Institute. Retrieved from http://www.regional.org.au/au/roc/1992/roc1992031.htm. This article discusses modern agricultural practices in Austria. It lists the benefits of using pesticides such as quality of food, increasing production, combating disease, and starvation as well as keeping the land from eroding. I can use this article to show that pesticides have an important role to play in farming and have several advantages.Resnik, D. & Portier, C. (2012). Environment and Health. The Hastings Center. Retrieved from http://www.thehastingscenter.org/Publications/BriefingBook/Detail.aspx?id=2170. This article discusses the social and economic issues associated with pesticides. Health concerns, poverty, disease, and global warming. I can use this article to support both sides of the argument; it lists out benefits and risks as well as the social effects. It also touches on the legal issues and advancements being made.
ReferencesCasida, JE. (2012). The Greening of Pesticide-Environment Interactions: Some Personal Observations. Environmental Health Perspectives. http://dx.doi.org/10.1289/ehp.1104405. This article reviews the current advancements in pesticides; it also mentions that over 900 pesticides are currently in use. The author discusses the changes that need to be made and reasons for green chemistry in this area. I can use this article to help show where we are now and where we can go in the future.Saffron, L. (2002). Fighting Famine with Ancestral Agriculture. Environmental Health Perspectives. 110:a235-a235. http://dx.doi.org/10.1289/ehp.110-a235a This article discusses “Save the Children’s” project Farmers Field School, the project in Ethiopia teaches local farmers natural methods of pest control. They use cow’s urine, neem leaves, and sisal to improve crop yields. I can use this article to highlight the research being done around the world where pesticides are often too expensive to be an option; this also shows that pesticides are an important aspect of farming.
ReferencesPesticides. (n.d.). Retrieved from Environmental Protection Agency website: http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/health/reducing.htm This is the website of the EPAs standards for determining the safety of a pesticide, weather a pesticide poses an unreasonable risk to humans or not. It also states limits on use of pesticides, if it can be used how often, and what protective clothing or equipment must be used. I can use this website to show the EPA standards.Wilcox, C. (2011, July 18). Mythbusting 101: Organic Farming>Conventional Agriculture. Scientific American. Retrieved http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/science- sushi/2011/07/18/mythbusting-101-organic-farming-conventional-agriculture. This article discusses the myths behind organic foods and tries to explain why they are actually myths. Organic foods still have pesticides, organic foods are not healthier, they are not necessarily better for the environment, and finally that organic foods are not an all or nothing proposition. I can use this article to show the benefits as well as the drawbacks of organic foods.