Discuss The Issue Of Pesticides




What is the pesticide controversy?

Ma W a 95 a b a Na G a a H a . Fearful the British would poison him, Hitler made sure to only eat food after it was eaten by Margot and fourteen other girls serving as his official tasters.22 Hitler may have been evil but he was not stupid. He knew that poisons affect people differently, and knew that any food which harmed one girl might harm him (then pity what would happen to the cook!).

Every year we spray something akin to poison on our food, and use something akin to H system of making sure we are not harmed. The motives are polar opposites Hitler cared only for the preservation of his person, while we seek the safety of all humans. Whether they are synthetic pesticides a a a , a a three types of pests: insects, weeds, and pathogens (e.g., fungi and viruses). At some level they could poison us also. Many contain carcinogens, cause neurological disorders, and the like. Yet, our food seems safe to most people, and since 1992 cancer incidence rates have even fallen or remained the same,23 cancer death rates have fallen,24 and life expectancy in the U.S. has been steadily increasing.25

Can we be absolutely sure pesticides are used safely? Not entirely, but like Hitler (and according to movies, every Roman emperor, Catholic Pope, and Medieval king) we employ testers not in the form of humans, but animals. All pesticides must be approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), where the pesticide under consideration is given to laboratory animals at different levels. The animals a time and used to gauge the threats to human health a pesticide may pose. The EPA then determines whether the pesticide should be allowed, and if it is, the specific instructions on how it should be applied.

Is it cruel to test pesticides on animals? It cer a , b on animals will cause us to harm humans a notion in which 90% of toxicologists agree.26 Pesticides decrease the cost of food, and make fruits and vegetables more affordable. Raise the price of these healthy foods and cancer rates and other health problems in humans will rise.27 Help the lab animals, and you harm some humans. Modern, democratic societies must make a tradeoff between harm to ab a a a a a a . I a , , a the overall harm to animals and humans as low as possible.

Hitler was willing to sacrifice fifteen girls to save himself. The modern world is willing to sacrifice a small number of laboratory animals to protect millions of humans. Moreover, the EPA continues to find ways to reduce testing on animals without sacrificing food safety, like recent developments in molecular and computational sciences, which can sometimes be substituted for animal experimentation.28

In June of 2013 The Wall Street Journal a ba , W A a B B Ea a Mostly Organic Diet? a enter on pesticides. It featured one person who answered

a a , a a answers describes the pesticide controversy nicely. One person argued in favor of organic foods under the belief that regulatory agencies do an inadequate job of protecting public health, and the other argued that conventional food is not only safe, but that the use of pesticides makes fruits and vegetables more affordable.




Lu (Alex) Chensheng: Ma a he e icide f d i f d a e hi g fea beca e he le el fall ell bel fede al afe g ideli e a d h a e da ge B fede al g ideli e d ake i acc ha effec e ea ed exposure to low levels of chemicals might have on humans over time. And many pesticides were eventually banned or restricted by the federal government after years of use when they were discovered to be harmful to the environment or h a heal h. Janet H. Silverstein: Gi e he lack f da a h i g ha ga ic f d lead be e heal h, i ld be c e – productive to encourage people to adopt an organic diet if they end up buying less produce as a re l A f e icide exposure, the U.S. in 1996 established maximum permissible levels for pesticide residues in food to ensure food safety. Ma die ha e h ha e icide le el i c e i al d ce fall ell bel h e g ideli e .

The Wall Street Journal. J e 17, 2013. W ld A e ica Be Be e Off Ea i g a M l O ga ic Die ? R3.

The pesticide controversy boils down to whether the regulatory agencies are making wise decisions about how pesticides are used or whether we must take measures to protect ourselves. In the U.S., that agency is the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and it is charged with permitting pesticides only when it does not present an unreasonable risk to man or the environment, while also taking into account its economic costs and benefits.29 The controversy is whether it fulfills this charge.

What are the benefits and harms of pesticide use?

Before delving into the regulation of pesticides we must develop a better appreciation of the benefits and potential harms of pesticides. The benefits are that they protect crops from damage by insects, weeds, and pathogens, allowing farmers to produce more food using the same amount of inputs. For consumers, this means greater availability of foods and lower prices.

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