There are 2.5 billion pounds of pesticides being applied to agricultural products each year in the United States. This is ten times more than was applied forty years ago. It is still unknown as to what type of exact effects these chemicals may have on individuals. Some farmers that have been using pesticides in their fields and developed leukemia are finding that the cause of their disease is from inhaling pesticides. These chemicals are still in use today and most of them have never been tested for the short or long-term effects that they may have on humans. Each year there are 10,000 pesticide related poisonings. On July 4th 1985, over 300 Californians became sick after eating watermelons treated with the pesticide tenik. Testing supermarket produce is a way of determining the amount of exposure the consumer receives through common produce like carrots, tomatoes and lettuce.
44% of foods that were tested in supermarkets were found to have some traces of pesticide residue on them. Of all the pesticides found, nineteen of them were a pesticide called DDT. DDT was banned in this country 12 years prior to the testing. It was believed that these chemicals might have entered this country from another country that doesnt have pesticide restrictions as the U.S. does. Pesticides are contaminating the Earths water supplies. There are seventeen pesticides found in twenty-three states water supplies right now. Scientists at Cornell University conclude that 99% of pesticides miss the intended source and find their way into the water, air and soil. Most of the pollution isnt strong enough to create an immediate impact on humans so the wildlife is the primary target to these contaminates.
Animals such as the European Starling birds are constantly being tested and found that they are greatly affected both behaviorally and psychologically. Farming practices that do not use pesticides/herbicides are slowly becoming introduced bit biologically created pesticides are not nearly as productive as found in preliminary testing. Biotechnology has shown to have successfully resisted pests in plants that were destroyed by pesticides but still hasnt proven itself as a better alternative. William Liebhardt Ph.D. is an Agricultural Specialist at the University of California, Davis and he says, “When you start spraying with pesticides, you disrupt the natural balance that exists in nature.
As a result, you end up killing beneficial insects, then insects that were not a problem become problems and this happens repeatedly” requiring more and more spraying. Spraying crops with chemicals may not have an immediate effect on humans but the environment needs to be preserved for years to come in order for crop production to remain a vital link to the human diet. By not treating the crops, you face a possible situation of a major reduction in agricultural produce. The non-chemical approach may be the answer but it is obvious that there needs to be a lot more testing done on these products as well and they are not economically reasonable yet. But then paying more now is a small price to pay to have fewer problems later.