US federal law, under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), defines a pesticide as
- "any substance or mixture of substances intended for preventing, destroying, repelling, or mitigating
- any insects, rodents, nematodes, fungi, or weeds, or any other form of life declared to be pests,
- and any substance or mixture of substances intended for use as a plant regulator, defoliant, or desiccant."
The issue of pesticides and their use is actually quite complex, involving the (sometimes) conflicting interests of health concern advocates, the $500 billion agro-industry, environmentalists, consumers as well as politicans... There is no doubt to many scientists that most pesticides are toxic, after all that is what they were designed to do, and should eventually be eliminated from the environment. The question is how quickly so that farmers and their critical products ( our food supply) are not left without recourse.
The following topics covered below are a good introduction to what pesticides are, how they impact both our health and lives, and what alternatives exist.... I quite realize that these notes are extensive, but the topic is important as there is no where to avoid pesticides and all of us are affected in some manner by their presence in our environment.
- 1. How much is used and who is exposed?
- 2. Pros & cons of pesticide use
- 3. Health impacts
- 4. Read through quickly to give perspective only: History of pesticide use
- Types of pesticides:
- 5. Heavy metals or inorganic pesticides
- 6. Natural organics
- 7. Chlorinated hydrocarbon pesticides (DDT)
- 8. Organophosphate pesticides
- 9. Carbamates
- 10. Herbicides
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