> I would contend that chemical use is a technology much the same as the
> automobile, and as such it can do some harm, but it can also do allot of good.
> Outright banning of pesticides would be similar to banning automobiles.
With all due respect, I believe your argument is a bit of a strawman. There is
no wide-scale substitute for the automobile like there is for chemical
pesticide use. We are justified in continuing to use the car, despite it's
enormous pollution output, because there is little viable alternative. We can
only wish that the auto industry would hurry up and release the electric car
technology they've been sitting on for years so cars can be less polluting. Or
we can wish for better, faster mass transit. Currently though, many of us are
dependent on our cars
*because we have no other alternative*.
Pesticides however have a very good alternative that is relatively easy to
implement now. Entire countries (Denmark comes immediately to mind) are
banning all synthetic pesticides and converting to organic agriculture as we speak.
> I won't argue that IQ is decreasing but attributing it solely to the use of
> pesticides is certainly a weak proposition. I'm not saying there isn't a
> remote possibility here, but don't you think that TV, lack of respect for
> teachers, and just plain down doom and gloom that some are portraying (even
> some sanetters) isn't having an affect on a persons desire to think for
> themselves and be all that they can be?
IQ is a genetic potential for intelligence and learning. It is governed only
by things that effect genes and PHYSICAL development, like heredity or the
influence of pesticides and other pollutants on fetal development. Exposure to
lead after birth can also physically damage brain tissues which will in turn
affect IQ and learning.
As a teacher in the inner city, pollution related problems are endemic among
my students. 7 out of 10 of my students have asthma for example, which affects
their attendance and their ability to focus. Most of my students are
malnourished too, which definitely affects the ability to learn. Likewise, my
kids face enormous social problems that effect their ability to learn, but
this is NOT the same thing as affecting IQ. If these social problems were
remedied, my kids would all have great potential for learning and succeeding,
UNLESS they had been affected in utero by endocrine disrupting pollutants. In
a nutshell, if we lower a child's IQ before she ever gets to school, it is
irrelevant (to this argument) what environment she grows up in because that
child's potential has already been compromised.
Aleta wrote: I guess that I don't consider the millions or billions of dollars that
> > can be made (mostly by a few large pesticide companies) by the chemicals
> > to be worth the potential cost.
>Steve wrote: How many auto manufacturers are there? How much money do
>they make? What damage has the auto industry done to harm the
>environment? Is the automobile industry worth the potential cost in the long
>term? Should we ban cars?
No make solar ones:)
Again, no parallel between cars and pesticides because their is currently a
viable alternative for pesticides. Regarding the banning of pesticides, and
health problems notwithstanding, the following stats regarding pesticide use
can help folks determine if pesticides are really worth the potential cost.
- In 1990, five billion pounds of pesticides were annually applied to food
crops worldwide. 840 million pounds were used in the US. This number increases
yearly as pests develop resistance and chemical companies push new dosage
recommendations and new formulations.
- The International Joint Commission under George Bush estimated that $75
billion in health care costs are related to toxic substances. (This number is
undoubtedly higher now)
- More energy is used in producing synthetic fertilizers (also pollutants)
than is used in tilling, cultivating and harvesting all the crops in the US.
- Measured by traditional methods, the average farm shows an $80/acre profit.
If you calculate in the costs of soil loss, water contamination and
environmental degradation caused by conventional chemical farming practices
(this does not include the cost of human illness or lowered IQ), the average
farm would show a $29/acre LOSS (World Resources Institute)
- 58 million pounds of pesticides banned from use in the US were exported for
use on food crops overseas between 1991 and 1994. These included DDT,
chlordane, heptachlor and paraquat. Many of those food crops are then exported
back to the United States for our consumption.
- At least 520 insects, 150 plant diseases and 13 weeds have developed
resistance to one or more pesticides meant to control them. At least 20
insects are resistant to all major classes of insecticides and several plant
diseases are immune to most fungicides used against them (Worldwatch Institute)
- Inadvertently killing beneficial insects in agriculture through the use of
insecticides costs us over $500 million annually in crop losses and additional pesticides.
- Triazine and acetanilide herbicides contaminate virtually every surface
drinking water source in the Mississippi basin. Every spring and early summer,
contamination levels regularly exceed EPA standards. These contaminants affect
around 12 million people, including hundreds of thousands of infants. (EPA)
- No information currently exists (though this may change soon) on toxicity
for 80% of the 75,000 chemicals listed by the EPA, because they have never
been tested. These chemicals are in daily use in the U.S.
- In the US, despite the use of pesticides, 35% of potential crops are lost to
insects, diseases and weeds. In 1945, before synthetic pesticides came into
use, crop losses were 33%. (Cornell University)
- Today, in the US, we could reduce pesticide use by 50% without any increase
in crop losses or change in cosmetic standards. If we changed our cosmetic
standards allowing a few holes in the outer leaves of lettuce or rust spots on
an orange rind, we could reduce pesticide use by a further 20% (Cornell University)
Steve wrote: To get mainstream farmers attention, we as sustainable
>proponents need to promote *proven/profitable* strategies for the reduction
>of pesticides and educate them on *researched/ practical* ways to incorporate
>sustainable techniques, not the banning of pesticides. A whole lot more will
>be acomplished if we can get 90% of conventional farmers to reduce their
>pesticides by 25% then by getting 10% of farmers to quite using pesticides.
I couldn't agree more, but I know we can do better than 25%. It's my job to
raise the next generation of farmers to never even consider using chemical
pollutants on their land. Unlike the automobile (currently), it is easy, even
profitable, to do without them.
Garden Resources of Washington
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