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The Issues of Pesticides.

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Toby.N. The Issues of Pesticides Pesticides are chemicals that destroy pests, weeds and diseases. The yields of crops may be dramatically increased when pesticides are used. Pesticides can be split into categories that are specific to the type of organism they are used to control: * Insecticides, for the control of insects. * Herbicides, for the control of weeds. * Fungicides, for the control of fungi. Many Farmers use pesticides to encourage healthy crop growth, prevent weed growth and prevent damage by pests and disease. This boosts commercial value of the crop but may mean the crops are not as healthy to consumers because traces of the chemicals are left in the plants. The use of chemicals to protect crops is not a new idea. Three thousand years ago sulphur was used by the Greeks to kill pests, and the Chinese used arsenic in AD 900. (Food, Farming and the Environment, Damian Allen and Gareth Williams, 1997) There are obvious advantages to using pesticides. The most vital of these is the effect on global food production. Estimates of the pest problem on a worldwide scale suggest that, without insect pest, world food production could be increased by about a third. ...read more.


For example fungicides can be important pollutants. Many of them contain either Copper or Mercury, as fungi are very sensitive to these two elements. Mercury is toxic to humans. Cases have arisen, for instance in Japan, where people have died as a result of eating fish and molluscs, which had accumulated high concentrations of Mercury (Advanced Biology, Michael Roberts etal, 2000). In addition, some insecticides are not broken down completely or very quickly once they have been applied. They remain in the environment for a long time this is known as persistence. When insecticides are not broken down they may persist in food chains. As the chemicals pass from one trophic level to another, they become concentrated, particularly in fat deposits of top carnivores such as birds of prey. This is called bioaccumulation. The effect may be quite dramatic, as with DDT, which is now found in virtually all animal tissue, in every food chain, and even the Antarctic snow (Food, Farming and the Environment, Damian Allen and Gareth Williams, 1997). However thanks to its use, millions of people survived who would other wise have died of malaria or starvation (Biology: Principles and Processes, Michael Roberts etal, 1993). ...read more.


In conclusion, pesticides are vital in order to increase global food production to meet the demand of the human population. This increases crop productivity has saved millions of people from starvation particularly in developing countries. The problem, however is that pesticides can be introduced into the environment with little knowledge of theirs effects on harmless or helpful organisms within the ecosystem. This can lead to 'bioaccumulation', 'pest resistance' and or 'pest replacement'. Coupled with the potential dangerous miss use of pesticides leading to so called 'direct killing', the use of pesticides has to seriously considered. Therefore it is my view that a compromise must be taken. Pesticides must be used in order to increase crop yield to a necessary amount. However, their effects must be well researched and their use must be responsibly controlled to prevent damage to the environment, ecosystem and human health. The use of pesticides is being regulated by introduction of new laws. In the UK, the law on the sale and use of pesticides was made stricter by the Food and Environment Act 1985 and the Control of Pesticide Regulations 1986 (Food, Farming and the Environment, Damian Allen and Gareth Williams, 1997). ...read more.

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A good summary of some of the key issues in this complex topic. Some specific relevant examples described in a little detail would have improved the quality of this essay. Some of the information sources are a little dated.

Marked by teacher Adam Roberts 30/07/2013

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