Thursday, February 15, 2018

Wildflowers Are the Best Pesticide

In the U.S., about 1 billion pounds of pesticides are used annually, 90 percent of which are used by the agricultural sector.1 There are many problems with the indiscriminate use of these toxic chemicals, like the fact that 82 percent of domestic fruits and 62 percent of domestic vegetables contain pesticide residues,2 to say nothing of the risks of pesticide poisoning faced by the 2.5 million farmworkers in the U.S., about 60 percent of whom live in poverty.3
Crop land does not exist in a bubble, which means some of the pesticides sprayed onto the land end up contaminating neighboring fields, soil, water and air. Even in the case of systemic pesticides, which are taken up into the plant as a whole via pesticide-treated seeds, about 95 percent of the substances ends up not in the plant cells where it was intended but blown off as dust or permeating the soil and water.4
Then there’s the fact that nature eventually finds a way to outsmart the pesticides, such that we’ve seen the emergence of pesticide-resistant superweeds and super insects. The pesticide industry’s response, rather than admitting defeat, is to encourage the use of more pesticides and more genetically engineered (GE) crops to go with them, but it’s a vicious cycle.
Glyphosate-resistant superweeds like pigweed are now driving farmers to seek out dicamba-resistant crops, but dicamba-resistant weeds have already sprouted in some states, raising serious doubts that piling more pesticides on crops will help farmers, or the environment, in the long run. The ultimate solution is not to fight against nature with the use of harmful chemicals, but rather to work with it, and even learn from it, embracing the natural tools already in existence to keep pests in check: namely, wildflowers. (MORE)


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