If you’ve ever sprayed insecticide on a line of ants, had a tent put over your house while they sprayed for termites, or used chemicals to kill weeds growing through the cracks on your driveway, then you know how toxic pesticides can be. I know that after setting off a bug bomb in my garage to get rid of a beehive, I ran out coughing and choking as tiny black and yellow corpses fell around me. Pesticides are designed to do one thing: kill. Whether it’s insects, plants, fungi, or rodents, pesticides are chemically designed to be toxic. But since they are designed to attack specific species, are we in danger? Unfortunately, we are. Flies, rats, weeds, and humans all have many genetic similarities that mean these toxins can affect us too.
There is no such thing as a healthy amount of pesticides. If someone offered you a drink and you had to choose between one with a little bit of poison in it or one without, with the assurance that you wouldn’t be able to feel a difference, you would obviously choose the poison free drink. Why take the risk of ingesting something harmful just because it’s a small enough dose that you won’t feel its effect?
Sadly, the EPA and other government organizations have created standards for the acceptable amounts of pesticides that can be in our food. Their reasoning is that tests have been conducted that don’t show any immediate health problems for humans. Because of this reasoning, we now have thousands of chemicals sprayed over our foods and injected into livestock, which eventually make their way into our bodies. Most of us don’t realize the effects these toxins have on our bodies and if researchers are honest, they don’t know all the effects either.
The human body is a complicated machine, one that we continue to discover more and more about. For a claim to have been made twenty years ago that a synthetic pesticide is completely harmless to our bodies and to our environment is almost as laughable as seeing textbooks in our schools that tell our children the world is flat. It’s false data like this that causes many of the biggest problems in our society.
As more research has been done to discover the effects of pesticides on the human body, it has become more apparent that these “harmless” levels found in our food are doing us more damage than we ever realized. Some of the many health problems that have been linked to pesticides include cancer, depression, Parkinson's disease, birth defects, and memory disorders. For the average adult, with a fully formed, well-functioning immune system, pesticides and other harmful chemicals are less of a threat. However, children, the elderly, and people with compromised immune systems are particularly at risk.
There are scientists, researchers, and other experts arguing both sides in the debate over how much we should worry about pesticides and whether their benefits outweigh the risks. Organic food makes avoiding these harmful chemicals much easier than the conventionally grown products of the past. The debate may still rage on, but a surefire way to avoid pesticides is to consume food that doesn’t have any.
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