The Truth About Pesticides

Pesticides have an unfortunate reputation but it’s mostly due to common misconceptions and general ignorance. People view pesticides as a highly dangerous spray that’s destroying the environment, our food and harming us. In reality, it’s a very broad category of substances that control species that are invasive to plants or animals. Pesticides are essentially just crop protection. Around the world, we use five billion pounds of pesticides per year. Here is everything you need to know about pesticides:

 

Pesticide

Distinctions

Pesticides destroy anything that may threaten our food supply or livestock like:

  • Weeds
  • Funguses
  • Rodents
  • Bacteria

Weeds

“Pesticide” is the umbrella term for substances that are used to control the above threats. Here are the proper distinctions:

  • If a plant is the pest in question, farmers use herbicide.
  • If a fungus is the pest in question, farmers use fungicide.
  • If a bug is the pest in question, farmers use insecticide.
  • If a rodent is the pest in question, farmers use rodenticides.

herbicides being sprayed

History

The infamous “Irish potato famine” was caused by a deadly fungus. This and other agricultural catastrophes could have been avoided with the help of pesticides. Pesticides have come a long way in the past century.

Did you know we used to spread arsenic, lead and copper treatments on crops? These chemicals are also extremely damaging and toxic to humans and we’ve since learned what substances can be used for the least amount of damage.

A major development in the pesticide industry occurred when Swiss chemist, Paul Herman Muller, was given a Nobel Prize in 1948 for his discovery of Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, also known as DDT.

DDT caused bugs to spasm and eventually paralyzed them and killed them. It was an extremely efficient way of dealing with invasive insects until a decade later when some species built up a resistance to it. DDT, unfortunately, led to a rapid decrease in several bird species and fish as they were accidentally consuming the molecule. It also inadvertently poisoned bodies of water and led to long-term medical problems in humans. In 1972, DDT was banned in the United States, however, you can still detect the molecule in the atmosphere today.

 

Resistance

The problem with developing new insecticides is when scientists try to wipe out entire insect populations, the strongest insects survive. These insects become resistant to these chemicals that should be killing them. This resistance leads them to evolve instead. They evolve by passing on their pesticide-resistant genes to their offspring. An example is the Colorado potato beetle that is resistant to 50+ insecticides.

 

Benefits

Pesticides prevent not only agricultural disasters, but also, mosquito-borne diseases like dengue fever, malaria and typhus. It’s estimated that at least 20-40% of crops are lost to pests. Farmers use pesticides to allow for large-scale production of agricultural output. It allows growers to optimize the productivity of their land and meet the ever-increasing demand for food globally.  Pesticides essentially make food more cost-efficient as farmers are able to maximize their output. The pesticide industry is also heavily regulated meaning that 99.5% of our food supply meets high standards. This intense regulation means that your produce may have pesticide residue but not enough to harm you. For example, you have to eat approximately 700x the typical consumption levels for apples per day in order for pesticides to negatively impact your health. It’s still important to wash your fruits and vegetables with water before consuming them though.

 

Disadvantages

Pesticides also have a nasty side effect. They can kill bugs that are necessary to certain crops for pollination like bees. Also, although, pesticides are heavily regulated still have the potential to harm us, our water supply, wildlife and the soil. Farm workers are also highly susceptible to a variety of diseases because of their regular exposure to pesticides.

Scientist in lab

The Future

Scientists, chemists, agricultural experts, and farmers are all working together to come up with a smarter pesticide where the pros will outweigh the cons. Farmers are using technological advances like drones to their advantage. They’re able to program drones using GPS to target specific crops and spray pesticides on them to prevent the widespread of chemicals. Scientists are looking to nature as well for solutions. They’re looking for insects that will fight off invasive species of insects. They’re also looking for funguses that fight off invasive species of funguses. For example, paldoxins which are fungicides that don’t actively kill the invasive fungus put help the plants fight the invasive species instead.

Pestend Pest Control Mississauga doesn’t use any pesticides or harmful chemicals due to their imperfect nature and the risks associated. We are an eco-friendly pest control company fully licensed by the ministry of environment. We will completely eliminate any pest infestations with a 100% money-back guarantee. Contact us today to learn more about our services and our unique pest control techniques. We offer rodent control, ant control, cockroach control, bee and wasp nest removal and more.