Pesticides are a chemical substance used throughout the world in agriculture to kill insects and other organisms that are harmful to crops. While the use of pesticides is commonplace, few are aware of the deleterious consequences that come with using them — consequences including increased cancer development rates and environmental pollution. In spite of their harmful side effects, the National Center of Biotechnology Information reports that over 1 billion pounds of pesticides are used throughout the United States each year, with approximately 5.6 billion being used worldwide.
Sandra Steingraber, an American biologist, author and cancer survivor, describes in her book “Living Downstream” how millions of farmers across the country who use pesticides aren’t aware of the harmful effects they have on both the environment and the human body. The danger of pesticides comes from their ability to seep into groundwater, thus contaminating our water supply with carcinogenic chemicals. Outside of water contamination, pesticide exposure occurs through food consumption and inhalation.
While pesticide use is rampant around the world, there are actions people and governments can take to limit their harmful effects. Through improved education and government policy, a greater emphasis can be placed on improving pesticide management and lowering usage. Additionally, government bodies around the world should come together in support of the development of organic, non-carcinogenic pesticide alternatives that do what they’re designed to do — kill pests, not people.