Once released into the environment, many pesticides persist for generations creating both additive and synergistic effects, with unknown consequences.(7, 9) For example, the most recent U.S. Geological survey of pesticides in our nation's streams and ground water found organochlorine pesticides, such as DDT, in fish and stream bed sediment, even though most of this type of pesticide had not been used in the U.S. for a number of years prior to testing. (10)
Pesticide marketing strategies have ranged from promoting progress to protecting the earth. In The War on Bugs, Will Allen explains that from the mid-1920s until about 2000 "most corporations exploited themes of war" and farmers' struggles with nature. (11) Even the famed children's author, Dr. Seuss, was in on the game. His cartoons promoting pesticide spray "helped America become friendly with poisons" and spread the "myth that pesticides were absolutely necessary."(11)
The years between 1945 to 1960 are known as the "golden age of pesticides." Then, in 1962, Rachel Carson's Silent Spring ignited a revolution. Suddenly, pesticides were an environmental issue, and the industry had to react.(12)
Chemical corporations developed relationships with land grant universities, state legislators and created communication programs to bolster pesticides' public image.(12) In 1994, the National Agricultural Chemicals Association changed its name to the "American Crop Protection Association."(13) Similarly, the Midwest Agricultural Chemical Association renamed itself: the "Mid America CropLife Association."
Names may change, but the risks remain.
True crop protection depends on the preservation of biodiversity and our natural resources. (15) Real food safety must consider the entire ecosystem.
Plus, according to agroecologist Don Lotter, when plants are not sprayed with pesticides, they produce higher amounts of compounds that fend off pests, and help protect human health. For example, the powerful antioxidant in red grapes, resveratrol, protects fruit against pests, and protects humans against chronic disease. Levels are higher in organic grapes, not sprayed with pesticides.(16)
Let's take Mrs. Obama's lead. Grow your own bountiful, nutrient-rich organic garden, and support organic farmers who protect our families' health.
Today's PR campaigns call genetically modified crops "environmentally friendly," and the companies who make them, "good stewards of the earth." Yet the Center for Food Safety reports that from 1996 to 2004, GM crops caused pesticide use to increase in the U.S. by 122 million pounds.(11, 14)
"If we fight nature, we lose in the end."
- Joan Dye Gussow, nutritionist