There are many types of pesticides that are used to control crop damaging pests and pests that may carry disease. Pesticides have been used to eradicate pests since 1000 B C. The Chinese used sulfur to control fungus and bacteria. And sulfur is still used today. The Chinese are also responsible for starting to use arsenic – containing materials to help control insects. Pesticide use evolved over centuries to stop both insects and unwanted weed growth that disturbs crop growth. In the 1800s a combination of arsenic and lead was used as a pesticide in many orchards here in the United States before the development of synthetic pesticides following the ending of World War II.
It most likely took a while before people began to realize these pesticides that were so effective in controlling insects and weeds were also having an effect on humans. Birth defects, illnesses and even death have been associated with pesticides. Many pesticides used years ago have since been banned. There are still other pesticides that have been banned in other countries but are still very much in use here in the United States.
-Neonicotinoids are pesticides that are used on crops and have been thought to be the cause of the disappearance of the honey bee. These pesticides seem to affect the nervous system of the bee. These pesticides have been banned in Europe. Many beekeepers got together in 2013 and filed a lawsuit to ban these substances. The EPA has stated it will continue to monitor the effect on bees until 2018.
-Paraquat is another pesticide that has been banned in Europe and China. This pesticide appears to be linked to Parkinson’s Disease. Research has shown that someone who has been exposed to Paraquat is 3 times more likely to develop Parkinson’s Disease than someone who hasn’t been exposed. This pesticide can also cause difficulty breathing and liver damage.
-The most widely used pesticide in the United States, Glyphosate, has been banned in Canada and Sri Lanka. It is the ingredient in Roundup, a popular pesticide. Other countries are planning to implement a ban on Glyphosate as it has been linked to cancer.
Health groups have long protested the use of pesticides linking their use to various illnesses. The biggest opposition has been and continues to be farmers. Farmers are concerned with protecting their crops from damaging insects. Hopefully, natural pesticides can be found to take the place of these very dangerous synthetic ones.