Over a Billion Pounds of Pesticides are Used Every Year in the United States
“Ailing planet seen as bad for human health”
by Barbara Hirsch
This was a headline in the Washington Post a couple of years ago that happened to be about climate change, but it could just as easily have been about other “ailments”. To me, it’s almost comical as a Duh! moment. To Kofi Annan (former UN Secretary-Genera) as well, I guess. “Human health depends, to a larger extent than we might imagine, on the health of other species and on the healthy functioning of natural ecosystems…”
What is both good for us, and for the planet? One clear answer would be: Many fewer than 7 billion of us. But other than supporting organizations that assist in family planning efforts globally, and electing leaders who would do the same, we could only limit our own family size. Then what about food?
A recent study caused some furor among people who believe in organic farming. It was a meta-analysis, meaning a compiling of data from previous studies, that indicated there was little difference in some nutritional aspects of conventional vs. organic food. The study and its conclusions were in some ways flawed, as proven by many after its release. But the same study did conclude that organic food carried a lower risk of pesticide exposure. Food could easily contain the same amount of vitamin c, but this would not effect other undesirables contained in it. And really, who wants to eat pesticides? And does everything else on the planet?
A land mass the size of our 3 biggest states combined – California, Texas and Alaska – is close to the amount of cropland planted in the U.S., virtually all sprayed with pesticides and spread with fossil fuel based fertilizers. Over a billion pounds of pesticides are used annually in the U.S. alone. The fertilizers run off into rivers causing dead zones in the ocean. The pesticides enter the soil, the air and other creatures besides the intended, and some persist for years. “According to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, 9 of the 12 most dangerous and persistent organic chemicals are pesticides.”
Good case for organics, eh? Or at the very least, far more judicious use of the nasty stuff?