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Biopesticides vs. Chemicals

Posted by on March 14, 2014

I’ve never been that interested in agriculture, but out discussions this past week totally changed my outlook. From discovering the lasting impacts that pesticides have in our health to the limitations that sustainable farming techniques face, this issue has turned into something that I continue to look for new information on. Also I don’t know about anyone else, but it made me want to have my own garden like immediately.

The involvement that chemicals have in our food production seemed almost unreal to me. The high rate of pesticides that we consider ‘edible’ in our food market has increased exponentially as the need for more and more chemicals rises along with the desired yield of goods. This article highlights the dangers that kids face, since not only are they more susceptible to falling ill from toxic pesticides, but they typically eat a higher percentage of these foods. Below is a quick survey list of some of the most pesticide prevalent foods in our agriculture.

blog 3What shocked me the most about this list was how low corn is, but considering it makes up the majority of our products, they have figured out ways to grow high yield amounts in mono-cultures, reducing the different types of pesticides needed.

As we learned, government subsidiaries really create no incentives to practice more sustainable farming, and one might think that to produce the growing demand of food, pesticides are the only way to go. That is where the idea of bio-pesticides come in. Defined by the EPA as “pesticides derived from such natural materials as animals, plants, bacteria, and certain minerals”, this offers many advantages while still being able to support large scale farms.

Some of the many advantages include:

  • Biopesticides usually are inherently less harmful than conventional pesticides.
  • Biopesticides generally affect only the target pest and closely related organisms, in contrast to broad-spectrum conventional pesticides that may affect organisms as different as birds, insects, and mammals.
  • Biopesticides often are effective in very small quantities and often decompose quickly, thereby resulting in lower exposures and largely avoiding the pollution problems caused by conventional pesticides.
  • When used as a component of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) programs, biopesticides can greatly decrease the use of conventional pesticides, while crop yields remain high.*

*List from Agriculture: Advantages of Bio-pesticides, US EPA Agricultural Center.

With these advantages comes the need to know much more about the product you are growing and learning how to apply IPM’s (from the video we viewed) to a large scale farm. Definitely visit the link to view how the EPA regulates bio-pesticides, but if all it takes is increased education in the agricultural industry to help this method spread, it would be a big step in more natural ways of maintaining our environment with a healthy farm producing a higher yield.


Claire M

6 Responses to Biopesticides vs. Chemicals

  1. cmccartney

    I’m excited for everyone that said they were inspired to start their own garden! I think the more information that is available to us, the better off we’ll be. This could mean creating out own garden, or getting more involved into what is used on the products we are buying. I agree that the increased cost is worth the security of knowing your produce is pesticide free

  2. Dr. Szulczewski

    Wonderful presentation about how to use pesticides in a sustainable way- it’s harder but worth it to all of us.

  3. taylordohmen

    I think anything that replaces the use of chemical pesticides and is just as or almost as effective is a good thing. There are so many chemical pesticides in most peoples’ bodies, but we don’t know what most of the long-term effects will be. Bio-pesticides seem like a good solution to reducing potential negative health effects in people while maintaining high crop yields.

  4. hkincaid

    First I want to say yes, it definitely makes me want to have my own garden some day. Ever since I started learning about pesticides and food production two years ago I have wanted my own garden. That way I know EXACTLY where my food comes from and what’s in it. Although I know that a garden is a lot of work. Second, I really like that article. It was very enlightening. I had never thought about how all these pesticides would affect children differently but it’s definitely true and all the more reason to cut back on them. Although that list is encouraging because corn is so low on it and because we now know that majority of our food it not all comes from corn. However, I still eat a lot of those things on that list including the top three which scares me a bit. I wonder how many pesticides I have in my body? But I definitely support biopesticides. I think they are a great alternative. Really, I support anything “bio-” because it means it is natural and therefore better for the environment.

  5. mkarrs

    Those are crazy statistics. I never knew what I was eating was that chemical infested. I wonder if people were just generally more informed about the levels of pesticides on the supposedly “fresh” produce they were eating if they would be more active in the movement to shift to biopesticides and other forms of integrated pest management. I know that I will definitely be looking for more organic foods from now on. The increased cost is worth it if it saves me from having health problems later on in life. I did not even know about biopesticides before this, so thank you for introducing me to them!

  6. saydijoy

    As you said, I really want to start my own garden and raise my own livestock like now! It’s pretty scary what chemicals are legally used to help with production that can cause severe health problems. What’s scarier to me is that our bodies have now developed in order to not get “as sick” to these pesticides because they are plentiful in everything we eat. Another thing that scares me is that we are now looking at “alternative” pesticides that won’t have as “bad” as an effect on us. Why can’t we just stop with the chemicals?

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