Pesticides: What are they, and how are they used
on our food? First, pesticides are
chemical concoctions used to control, destroy, or regulate
weeds or insects. Herbicides kill weeds,
insecticides kill bugs. Farmers spray chemicals over
crops like corn and soybeans. In the U.S., the vast majority of those crops
are genetically modified to withstand those chemicals. Pesticides are also
often used in growing tomatoes, or apples, or other fruits
and vegetables we eat directly. For farmers, the goal is to get more results from the crops they plant and efficiently
grow more food. Some of the most popular
pesticides used are Atrazine and Glyphosate, the active ingredient in the
weed killer RoundUp, put out by agribusiness giant
Monsanto.What’s the best news you could hear
about the price of RoundUpherbicide?
Ready?It’s dropping right
through the floor!The government does require
farmers to follow certain rules. These dictate how much
of each chemical they can use and when they can use it. Think you’re free from
pesticidesif you buy organic? Not always. Organic producers can use
organic pesticides that are derived from
natural sources like soil bacteria
and other plants. Government standards
setsafe levels, but, whether synthetic
or organic, pesticides in the wrong amount
can be dangerous to your health. Pesticides can drift
over to neighboring farms and kill crops
and honeybees or run off into waterways,
seeping into groundwater. Conflicting interpretations
of scientific research have led various authorities to issue different levels of concern
over pesticide use. Federal regulators like the
Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug
Administration test pesticide levels
in waterways and residue on produce. And they set standards to
protect human health. So, while the chemicals
are ubiquitous in our food supply, their impact remains a question
of much debate.