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.
What 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. http://www.epa.gov/agriculture/tbio.html#Advantages
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.