By Vern and Lori Gieger
under a variety of brand names, pesticides and herbicides may be liquid,
powder or gas (fumigant). Whether a pesticide or herbicide, they both
have one thing in common...they are invisible killers leaving a path
of disease, death, and destruction in their wakes.
has been banned in the U.S. and Canada for years, and for good reasons.
What you may not know is that it is still used here in Mexico. Legally
DDT production is limited to public health needs and for international
trade. Two certified concentrations are available: technical grade,
100 percent pure for use in commercial products, labeled for use in
“public health programs” by the government. However, the
second concentration, the 75 percent mix is used for household application.
is only one of the many villains; another pesticide widely used throughout
Mexico is malathion. Depending on the pesticide, it may contain compounds
of arsenic, dioxins etc., as well as agents closely related to the nerve
gas used in WWII. Some toxins used in malathion become even more toxic
when exposed to sunlight. Yet many consumers use them every day. So,
before you have your gardeners fill up the sprayer and head into your
garden, you may want to think twice.
are devastating to our wildlife populations; exposure to these toxins
can cause reduced fertility and hatching rates, birth defects, retarded
growth, cancer, anemia, metabolic abnormalities, poor immune systems,
neurological abnormalities, as well as death.
tests conclude these toxins over time can have the same devastating
effects on humans as well. Poisons affect all species in an ecosystem,
not just the small and inconspicuous. When we use biotechnology to solve
environmental problems, we also need to consider its potential impact
on the entire ecosystem. Only by considering the ecosystem as a whole,
can we protect it and reduce the growing list of endangered and threatened
kill the very critters that control pests. An example, goldfish, guppies
and fathead minnows, love to munch on mosquito larvae. Frogs, dragonflies,
ladybugs and many species of birds also feed on mosquitoes. A bat can
eat 1000 or so per night. A mosquito lives for about two weeks; much
less than their predators. If both are killed, mosquitoes will replenish
their populations much more rapidly.
can be lethal even in small doses especially to birds, either directly
or indirectly. Consider this, if you spray your garden with malathion
it is gradually absorbed by your flowering plants. As a result the nectar
is laced with malathion; hummingbirds feed upon the sweet, but deadly,
than 1% of pesticides actually reaches the intended target; the rest
ends up contaminating the air, soil, water, plants, animals and us.
Various components of pesticides also pose separate risks. Simply put,
as some breakdown in the environment, they become even more toxic. For
instance, when DDT, breaks down it becomes the more lethal DDE.
toxins do not stay in one place. Wind drift, water runoff, groundwater
leaching, water currents and animals move contaminants around the world,
from continent to continent and sea to sea. Biological dispersion insures
that one area’s local contamination will become tomorrow’s
global problem. We should consider very carefully which poisons we use;
whether it is the lirio in the lake or an ant nest in our back yard.
Most herbicides and pesticides affect both animals and humans, as well
as killing beneficial plants and insects.