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Hartlep 1 Hollyn Hartlep Instructor Lewis ENC1102.

701F12 9 December 2012 Even Healthy Food May Be Contaminated The use of pesticides throughout the world as a remedy to ward off insects may turn out to be more harmful than beneficial. According to the EPA, a pesticide is any substance or mixture of substances intended for preventing, destroying, repelling, or mitigating any pest. Herbicides, fungicides, and various other substances used to control pests also fall under this realm. The carcinogenic residues from these chemicals regularly ingested by humans not only build up over time in their systems, but are alarmingly dangerous to the laborers who are required to use them (Eddleston and Bateman 147). Eddleston and Bateman note that 300,000 people die each year from pesticide poisoning in the rural developing world, a large portion of them being from countries that supply the U.S. with imported produce (147). Although the mere consumers of these products may not show immediate signs of poisoning, studies show that over a long period of time their consumption can cause birth defects, nerve damage and cancer (EPA). Because of the health risks associated with the consumption of pesticide contaminated foods and the grave consequences they have upon people using them in the field, pesticide use in the United States should be more vehemently regulated, and eventually reduced to minimal use. Until the 1940s farmers controlled pests without the need for pesticides (Muir). The Native Americans of North America used the Three Sister Method, a savvy and pragmatic approach that groups beans, squash, and corn together so they each benefit each other by serving as natural pesticides and fertilizers. Horticulturist Frank Hyman contends that the beans fix

Hartlep 2 nitrogen for the group, while the corn stalk serves as a trellis, and the leaves of the squash shade out weeds and its hairy vines deter pests (65). A method such as this eliminates the need for chemical pesticides because the combination of plants naturally deters pests. Hyman has successfully developed his own modification of the Three Sister Method by planting raspberries, strawberries, and asparagus in conjunction in his hometown Durham, North Carolina (Hyman 67). He is just one of many organic farmers who shows that it is possible in this modern day to produce healthy crops without the use of pesticides. The first widely used pesticide was dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, or DDT, discovered in 1939 by Swiss chemist Paul Muller, who won a Nobel Prize for its discovery. DDT was promoted as a miracle chemical because it was toxic to a wide range of insect pests, but showed a low toxicity to humans. Later, studies showed that DDT was toxic to not only insects, but also to fish. It was found to accumulate in organisms fatty tissues, and was found in very high concentrations particularly in human breast milk. In 1972 the United States government banned its use, while many developing countries have not yet realized the danger it poses and continue its use (Muir 1). Ten years before DDT was banned, the book Silent Spring, by Rachel Carson, brought the issue of pesticides to the public eye by documenting the detrimental effects of pesticides on the environment, particularly on birds (Jameson). Since the use of DDT other pesticides have been introduced and many more have been banned (EPA). Organophosphate, Carbamate, Organochlorine, and Pyrethroid pesticides are the chemical pesticides currently used in the United States. According to the EPA a number of pesticides from these groups that have not yet been banned are known to disrupt regular neurotransmitter functioning, and are toxic to the nervous system. The EPA confirms that The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, also known as FIFRA, now regulates all pesticides use. They have been responsible for

Hartlep 3 banning many Organochlorine Insecticides (DDT being a member of this group) (EPA). The United States is on the right track to bettering the health of its citizens by implementing stricter laws on pesticide use, but there is still room for improvement. With a little more demand from U.S. citizens for less toxic residues on crops, more harmful chemicals can be banned by the FIFRA, to make more natural and chemical-free foods available for U.S. citizens. While the negative effects of pesticides are numerous, they do have their benefits. As the world population is exponentially growing, the demand for food is increasing accordingly, making pesticide use economically beneficial (Conant). The ease of use of pesticides makes them an economically beneficial choice for companies and for consumers because while the price of fruits and vegetables for the consumer decrease with their use, the companies gain more profit because of the greater demand (Gareth Edwards-Jones). The EPA comments that, With the use of pesticides farmers are able to increase crop production and produce fruits and vegetables that are free of insects and blemishes (EPA). A prior country of famine, India, for example, has quadrupled its grain production since 1951, and is able to not only feed its population, but also export produce (Dobson and Cooper 2). These economic and production efficient benefits have increased the use of pesticides, and facilitated larger crop productions. In an effort to reduce the amount of chemically contaminated fruits and vegetables being produced, U.S. citizens can lessen their consumption of non-organic foods. If consumers substantially stop buying chemically contaminated foods, there will be a lesser demand for the foods, bringing attention to the pesticide-using companies and the government. Although organic foods are more expensive than the alternative, they will pay for themselves in the long run. Sperow and Brown observe that for a four person family to switch their diet from non-organic to all-organic they would go from paying $129 a week for groceries to paying $192, and increase of

Hartlep 4 49% (21). Over a years time that adds up to and extra $3,276 spent on buying organic food over non-organic. This may seem like a lot, but when compared to the cost of treating cancer, one of the risks associated with consuming pesticide-ridden foods, the cost is miniscule. The American Cancer Society notes that the average monthly supply of a cancer drug prescription in 2006 was $1,600, while today some prescriptions cost as much as $10,000 a month. Thats $120,000 on prescriptions alone, which does not constitute all of the medical costs associated with cancer treatment (The American Cancer Society). Even at half of that price, $60,000 a year is $56,724 more than a person would spend by buying organic foods in that year. While consuming organic foods is not the only way to prevent cancer, Dr. Neal Barnard et al. of The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine reports that it is one way to significantly lower the risk (21). For a person to optimally care for his or her health, he or she should switch from a non-organic diet to purchasing as many organic alternative foods as possible. This will not only improve his or her wellness, but will also, in lessening the number of non-organic foods being purchased, lower the demand for pesticide contaminated foods. If every U.S. citizen were to switch a portion of his or her fruit and vegetable consumption to organic, that alone would make a difference in advancing the production of organic crops, and decreasing that of non-organic ones. Aside from buying organic, other methods such as home organic gardening and signing petitions received by the government encourage the diminished use of harmful chemical pesticides. Creating an organic garden is the safest and most economical way to be sure that foods are coming from a safe source. In housing conditions where gardens are unavailable, nearby community gardens are a great alternative to at-home gardening. Additionally, signing petitions to ban the use of certain pesticides is an effective approach to lessening their use. By simply making a account any citizen is able to sign these petitions online, or

Hartlep 5 even create their own petition at One current available petition concerning the farm pesticide Neonicotinoid used on crops throughout the United States is available to sign at By signing government received petitions and planting organic fruits and vegetables, a major reduction in harmful pesticide use can be achieved. Purchasing safe fruits and vegetables is a long-term health investment. The toxic chemical residue found on fruits and vegetables regularly ingested by the world population accumulate in fat cells in their body, causing a number of health problems such as cancer, birth defects, miscarriages, and sterility (Matthews). Alternative methods of farming without the use of pesticides are available and should be employed on the large government scale and on the small at-home gardening scale. It is unfair for human beings to live in a world where the most basic and healthy foods which were once cultivated by hand are now tainted with chemicals, and unhealthy for human consumption. All citizens can play a part in the end goal of eliminating harmful pesticide use by purchasing organic, growing their own produce and making their voices heard by the government. (Word Count: 1,477)

Hartlep 6 Works Cited "About Pestcides." EPA. Environmental Protection Agency, 09 May 2012. Web. 11 Nov. 2012. <>. Barnard, Neal D., Patricia Bertron, Suzanne Havala, Jennifer Keller, Gabrielle TurnerMcGrievy, Martin Root, Amy Lanou, Kristine Kieswer, and Brenda Davis. Healthy Eating for Life to Prevent and Treat Cancer. New York: Wiley, 2002. Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. Web. 8 Dec. 2012. < ?sid=d78d1603-9e3e-4c07-9fd0-d021eafac200@sessionmgr114&vid=2>. Brown, Cheryl, and Mark Sperow. "Examining the Cost of an All-Organic Diet." Journal of Food Distribution Reasearch 36.1 (2005): 20-26. Web. 7 Dec. 2012. <>. Cooper, Jerry, and Hans Dobson. "The Benets of Pesticides to Mankind and the Environment." Natural Resources Institute (2007): 1-12. Web. 13 Nov. 2012. <>. "The Cost of Cancer Treatment." The Cost of Cancer Treatment. The American Cancer Society, n.d. Web. 07 Dec. 2012. < s/the-cost-of-cancer-treatment>. Hyman, Frank. "Three Sisters." Horticulture 107.3 (2010): 65-67. Biological & Agricultural Index Plus (H.W. Wilson). Academic Search Premier. Web. 28 Nov. 2012. < -bb5d-4c8c-afcc-

Hartlep 7 191892710781%40sessionmgr113&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWRzLWxpdmU%3d#db=bai&A N=507010500> Jameson, Conor Mark. Silent Spring Revisited [Electronic Resource] . n.p.: London : Bloomsbury Publishing, 2012., 2012. University of South Florida Libraries Catalog. Web. 27 Nov. 2012. < ?p=883413&o=875&u=sjfIUFXwkoVxIybfHLubWQ%3d%3d&t=1354036180&h=2D89 29F3E4C0A07FFCCA76665FCA48E0B6F7D9CD&s=14986280&ut=2825&pg=1&r=i mg&c=-1&pat=n> Matthews, G. A. Pesticides: Health, Safety and the Environment. Oxford: Blackwell Pub., 2006. University of South Florida Libraries. 15 Apr. 2008. Web. 10 Nov. 2012. < x?p=284269&o=875&u=sjfIUFXwkoVxIybfHLubWQ%3d%3d&t=1352592918&h=EE2 7D2345AE6E2260290F8C904C01292C4911256&s=14753129&ut=2825&pg=1&r=img &c=-1&pat=n>. Michael, Eddleston, and Bateman D. Nicholas. "Specific Substances: Pesticides." Medicine 40.Poisoning: Part 2 of 2 (n.d.): 147-150. ScienceDirect. Web. 11 Nov. 2012. < &AN=S1357303911003550> Muir, Patricia. "A History of Pesticide Use." Oregon State University, 22 Oct. 2012. Web. 18 Nov. 2012. <>.

Hartlep 8 "Pesticides and Food: Health Problems Pesticides May Pose." EPA. Environmental Protection Agency, n.d. Web. 07 Dec. 2012. <>. "Pesticide Use on Factory Farms." Sustainable Table. N.p., Sept. 2009. Web. 11 Nov. 2012. <>. Unsworth, John. "History of Pesticide Use." Agrochemicals. International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry, 10 May 2010. Web. 4 Dec. 2012. < &catid=3&sobi2Id=31>.