Under the generic name of pesticides hide many chemicals that have clearly defined roles. Herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, etc. Most people do not know what all these various kind of chemicals do. Because you do not know what they do you don not know if you need them or not and if they are worth the harful effects of using them.
Pesticides that are also called “plant protection products in agriculture,” are products of the chemical industry based on an active ingredient that are natural or synthetic. They are used in agriculture to get rid of pests.
Where pests are pests pesticides are used: Several families are marketed or have been marketed in the US. Among the most fearsome include organochlorines (banned in many parts of the world), whose active ingredient is based on chlorine. These products are dangerous because they are persistent and contaminate the land sustainably. In some parts of the world, these products have been replaced by organophosphate insecticides (more toxic to insects but they biodegrade faster) or synthetic pyrethroids, the most currently used in western nations.
When the pests are fungi which can cause disease you should be using fungicides: These products have gradually replaced the gardens in the famous Bordeaux Bouillie “natural (mixture of copper sulphate and lime), which had yet to overcome many diseases . The synthesis of active agents used today are formulations based on carbamates, derivatives of benzene, phenol derivatives, quinones, amines, amides, the triazoles, etc.. Some of these products are considered potentially carcinogenic. These are only necessary if there is a fungal problem and you should not use an all in one solution that has fungicides in it if you do not need to use a fungicide.
When the pests are weeds competing with crops you can use herbicides: These products, known as selective. Many families of herbicides are on the market including nitrated phenols, amides, the benzonitrile, the substituted ureas, triazines, the sulfonurees, the quaternary ammonium … the list is long! Some of these products are also considered as potentially carcinogenic. You should check the product out online and make sure it is not carcinogenic with so many good safe herbicides you do not need to take the risk.
When pests are not insects, or fungi, or weeds, you can use targeted products such as molluscicides against slugs, rodenticides against rodents, corvicides against the Ravens … Again, the list is very long.
All these products are of course the wealth of the chemical industry while leading the biodiversity of our countryside to bankruptcy!
Fortunately many laws are in place to eliminate the nastier chemicals. Unfortunately just because it is sold does not mean it is safe. These are all chemicals and you should follow directions when using them to make sure you are as safe as you can be.
US Environmental Protection Agency (July 24, 2007), What is a pesticide?
Cordes DH, Rea DF. 1988. Health hazards of farming. American Family Physician 38:233-243
Das R, Steege A, Baron S, Beckman J, Harrison R. 2001. Pesticide-related illness among migrant farm workers in the United States. International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health, Volume 7, Issue 4, Pages 303-312.
Garcia AM. 2003. Pesticide exposure and women’s health. American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Volume 44, Issue 6, Pages 584-594