Putting pesticides into perspective

Recent reports of cereal that’s laden with synthetic pesticides are frightening, but there’s a major piece of the puzzle missing – perspective. Pesticides have been used for thousands of years to protect food from bugs and weeds and they haven’t always been synthetic.

Many pesticides are actually produced naturally by plants as a defense mechanism against bugs and weeds. Some of the most common natural pesticides are pyrethrum, from the chrysanthemum flower, aflatoxin and nicotine. Even caffeine is a natural pesticide.

Scientists and farmers realized that many natural pesticides accumulate in the soil and on animals, overstaying their welcome in our environment. To solve this problem, scientists invented synthetic pesticides. These were specifically designed to minimize any long-term environmental impact. For example, unlike its natural counterparts, glyphosate disappears from the environment in a mere few weeks.

Another added benefit of synthetic pesticides? Farmers need a lot less. The careful management and application of pesticides means only 0.01 percent used are synthetic. A single cup of coffee contains enough natural caffeine to equal a full year’s consumption of synthetic pesticides.

This doesn’t mean you should stop enjoying your morning cup of Joe. But having all the information available can help you make the best decisions for you and your family, like the increased environmental impact of continuing to use natural methods when there are more efficient synthetic pesticides.

So, why are so many people afraid of synthetic pesticides? It’s understandable that people might be afraid of something that’s manmade and unnatural. But just like many modern-medicine, cars and computers, humans are pretty good at creating alternative technologies to make the world a better place.

So sip your coffee, enjoy your breakfast cereal, and remember – farmers need this earth as much as you do and they’re doing everything they can to grow enough safe and healthy food for all of us.

Want more information about chemicals used on the farm? Check out our fact sheet with reliable information straight from expert sources.