The Effects of Pesticide Use

Updated: Aug 4, 2021

Author: Junghyun (Hannah) Kwon

Editors: Liane Xu and Jasleen Matharu

Artist: Daisy Zheng


Pests and insects infiltrating farmer produce are nothing out of the ordinary during the summer. However, by eating plant leaves, burrowing holes in the ground, and transmitting bacterial, viral, or fungal infections to crops, farmers experience immense difficulty removing pests. Although there are various methods to eradicate these intruders, such as using vegetable oil, dish soap, or rubbing alcohol, most farmers resort to utilizing pesticides for it’s easy and effective properties to protect their plants.

After spraying pesticides onto a plant, the plant absorbs and distributes the chemicals, so when an insect attempts to feed on it, they ingest the pesticides and die. This might seem like an ideal and efficient method, but it comes with numerous risks to our health and the health of our environment. Firstly, pesticides sprayed on plants could flow as runoff from the farms into nearby streams and rivers and contaminate the soil, increasing chances of harm or death to dependent organisms on the bodies of water. Consequently, this mass die-off of plants and animals can throw the ecosystem off balance. Also, when high concentrations of nitrate are present in runoff that enters drinking water, it may lead to methemoglobinemia which is usually fatal for newborns.

Furthermore, as humans are eating non-organic food smeared with pesticides, small amounts of it are slowly accumulating inside our bodies. Even after thoroughly washing them, there would still be some that seeped inside the crops, and we would unknowingly be consuming pesticides. These accumulated pesticides can harm the nervous, reproductive, and endocrine systems and lead to cancer, Alzheimer's disease, ADHD, and even birth defects.

Also, there are a few groups of insects that are resistant to pesticides and survive. They would then quickly reproduce more and more offspring with the same immunity, rendering the pesticides ineffective in the end. Thus, the farmers have no choice but to switch to a different and more powerful pesticide, intensifying the harm done to the environment and our health.

 

Citations:

“The Impact of Pests on the Agriculture Industry.” Safeguard Pest Control,

https://www.google.com/url?q=https://www.safeguardpestcontrol.co.uk/impact-pests

agriculture-industry/&sa=D&source=editors&ust=1626226340968000&usg=

AOvVaw0i20vJhh-2TH3I62cplwsp.

Jakuboski, Samantha. “The Dangers of Pesticides.” SciTable, 2011,

https://www.nature.com/scitable/blog/green-science/the_dangers_of_pesticides/.

“Protecting Water Quality from Agricultural Runoff.” United States Environmental Protection

Agency, 2005,

https://www.epa.gov/sites/default/files/2015-09/documents/ag_runoff_fact_sheet.pdf.

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