Many pesticides developed for conventional
agriculture have revealed themselves as risky in terms of human
health and environmental impact.
Some banned compounds:
- carbofuran and
Sound unfamiliar? Maybe you need the names of insecticides,
herbicides and fungicides formulated with them:
- Termite Killer,
- Rose Disease Control.
Your shaded yard may have become fully sunny in one of the most
recent bans. That was when the
herbicide Imprelis killed not only lawn weeds but large trees
across much of the continent before being withdrawn through EPA action.
The effects of chemical cocktails are also suspect, even when
the components have been judged individually safe. Unfortunately,
it's a much more complicated process to prove synergistic
Even if we don't use pesticides personally
Producing, transporting and applying chemicals cause
environmental problems. You've probably read or heard of train
crashes that cause whole community evacuation, spills that make an
entire river into toxic soup, or new neurological disorders and
cancers attributed to chronic chemical exposure. If we can reduce
pesticide use we can reduce these risks.
We can scrub our food before eating with appropriate soaps or
peel outer layers to remove the materials that contain the most
pesticide residue. However, it's wonderful to simply rinse an apple
under water to wash away natural dust, then safely enjoy the
benefits of the fiber-rich peel!
By the way: "Natural" products, including some considered acceptable in organic food production, are not
necessarily safer. Rotenone is lethal in tiny doses and nicotine
is one of the most potent neurotoxins known. Even if there is no
residue on the food we buy, those who've handled that chemical
along the way were at risk. Organic food production needs our consumer
dollars to keep funding new ways of doing things.
For the children
Can we say this next item without sounding like your
grandmother? Ah well, she was right: Starving children in
other countries would cry to see you being picky. A blemished leaf
can be rinsed and eaten. A bad spot in a peach can be cut out.
Furthermore, today those starving children may be part of your
food chain, as workers in the fields of nations poorer that yours.
It's not uncommon in those less-regulated countries for aerial
sprays to be made while workers are in the field. Included
and legal there are are substances banned in the
U.S.A. So the production of that perfect banana may include
hazardous chemicals rained on field workers, including children,
exposing them to pesticides we've learned are too risky to