Farmers are losing the war against agricultural pests asinsects become immune to chemical sprays. Professor IanCrute of Rothamsted Research in the U.K. says, “Just ashuman health is under threat from antibiotic resistance, socrop health is under threat from insecticide resistance. Thebugs are gaining on us — and our defenses are increasinglyfragile. We need new science-based tools for insect controland without them, our ability to feed ourselves is injeopardy.”
The speed at which insects are growing resistant topesticides is outstripping the rate at which new chemicalagents can be developed. More than 40% of potential cropyield is already being lost, and this could get even worse.It might be even become economically impossible to producecertain crops in future. 540 species of insect are nowresistant to at least one class of insecticide. Scientiststhink the over-use of particular kinds of insecticides ispartly to blame for this.
One billion dollars’ worth of cabbages, cauliflower andturnips in the U.S. are at risk from maggot infestationbecause farmers rely entirely on one type of insecticide tokill them and the bugs are become resistant. But a shift to”broad-spectrum” pesticides would mean that beneficialinsects would be killed along with the pests.
In India, at least 500 cotton farmers are estimated to havedied last year due to exposure to pesticides. The use ofpesticides in agriculture has been on the rise in Indiaduring the past decade, but the education of farmers has notkept up with this pace. A report titled “The Killing Fields- cotton farmers in Warrangal district in Andhra Pradesh”says, “Spraying is either done with a piece of clothcovering mouth and nose or without any covering. No otherprotection or safety measures are used.”
Narasimha Reddy, of the Center for Resource Education, says,”The farmers should wear protective gear while spraying butthey don’t. They don’t even wear shoes because they considerthe soil sacred.” Early symptoms of exposure to pesticidesinclude dizziness, fatigue, intestinal discomfort and chestpain. In some cases, paralysis and seizures make the victimunconscious, leading to death.
More than 300 cotton farmers committed suicide in AndhraPradesh a few years ago following crop failure andsubsequent debts. Residents of a village in another southernstate say pesticides used in cashew nut plantations arecausing physical and mental illness in hundreds of childrenand adults.
How can we know what?s going on if the media won?t tell usthe truth? Read ?Into the Buzzsaw? by KristinaBorjesson,clickhere.
To read about insectresistance,clickhere.
To read about humandeaths,clickhere.
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