NOV 15, 2016 1:59 PM PST

Do We Really Need Pesticides?

WRITTEN BY: Jennifer Ellis

Pesticides are man-made chemicals we use to control insects, fungi, and other pests that might negatively affect food crop growth. There are currently 5 billion pounds of pesticides sprayed onto crops around the globe. Do we really need this much protection for our plants at the expense of our own health and that of the environment?

Pest control has been used by humans since the birth of food crops. Some of the first pest control methods included burning crops after a harvest to kill any unwanted bugs before replanting and using one insect species to protect plants from other bugs. People also used to use arsenic, copper and lead on plants to rid them of harmful pests, that is, until it was discovered that these elements were toxic to people and the surrounding environment.

In the mid-1900s, chemical pesticides such as DDT were developed that seemed to do the job and be safe for consumption. Unfortunately, while these chemicals were great at plant protection, it was soon discovered that they were detrimental to human health and to the environment. One large issue that resulted from chemical pesticides was rapid species evolution. Bugs became pesticide resistant super bugs like the Colorado potato beetle.

Now, we are looking into alternate methods of pest control that we know will be safe for us and the environment. These include using one insect to kill other harmful insects, applying safe fungus to plants to protect from pests, and using drones to target spraying pesticides to specific areas. These successful methods offer encouragement to continue looking into alternatives to chemicals to keep us and our environment safe.
About the Author
  • I love all things science and am passionate about bringing science to the public through writing. With an M.S. in Genetics and experience in cancer research, marketing and technical writing, it is a pleasure to share the latest trends and findings in science on LabRoots.
You May Also Like
OCT 22, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Why Do Galaxies Come in Different Shapes?
OCT 22, 2020
Why Do Galaxies Come in Different Shapes?
When looking it galaxies, it takes little to realize that they come in different shapes- whether they're swirling bl ...
DEC 29, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Why is the Sun's Outer Atmosphere Hotter than its Surface?
DEC 29, 2020
Why is the Sun's Outer Atmosphere Hotter than its Surface?
The fact that the Sun's distant atmosphere is significantly hotter than its surface has been a topic of confusion in ...
MAR 09, 2021
Plants & Animals
Study Highlights Importance of Chinook Salmon to Endangered Orcas
MAR 09, 2021
Study Highlights Importance of Chinook Salmon to Endangered Orcas
Many issues plague the iconic orcas of the Pacific Northwest United States, including declining salmon populations. ...
JUL 09, 2021
Cell & Molecular Biology
Wearable Tech for...Plants?
JUL 09, 2021
Wearable Tech for...Plants?
Researchers have developed a "wearable" patch to detect the gaseous substances plants emit when diseased or stressed,
JUL 15, 2021
Neuroscience
Like Humans, Rats Help Friends Before Strangers
JUL 15, 2021
Like Humans, Rats Help Friends Before Strangers
Just like humans, rats tend to help members of their own social group before strangers. The findings may help researcher ...
JUL 15, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Modern Slavery in Greece Spotted from Space
JUL 15, 2021
Modern Slavery in Greece Spotted from Space
Migrant settlements being exploited for work have been spotted with satellite imagery by researchers led by the Universi ...
Loading Comments...