Up@dawn 2.0

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Hey Bro, You Really Shouldn't Eat That Strawberry: Pesticides and Human Health

Betsy Milford Midterm Report
While walking through the grocery store with my cart full of leafy and colorful produce, I used to secretly scoff at all the people with carts piled high with pizza rolls and bottles of concentrated sugar water in various forms. Over the past few weeks though my perception has been altering rapidly. I may not be getting loads of empty calories, but what I am getting might be harming me in ways that Science doesn’t even understand yet. Pesticides are creating an unsustainable ecosystem, through their toxicity, inefficiency, and upheaval of our natural agricultural system.
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  1. Excellent though disturbing report, Betsy.

    I first had my eyes really opened on pesticides by Michael Pollan when he visited an industrial farm in Idaho in "Omnivore's Dilemma"-

    "The whole farm was managed from a bank of computer monitors in a control room. Sitting in that room, the farmer could, at the flick of a switch, douse his crops with water or whatever chemical he thought they needed. One of these chemicals was a pesticide called Monitor, used to control bugs. The chemical is so toxic to the nervous system that no one is allowed in the field for five days after it is sprayed. Even if the irrigation machine breaks during that time, farmers won't send a worker out to fix it because the chemical is so dangerous. They'd rather let that whole 135-acres crop of potatoes dry up and die.

    That wasn't all. During the growing season, some pesticides get inside the potato plant so that they will kill any bug that takes a bite. But these pesticides mean people can't eat the potatoes while they're growing, either. After the harvest, the potatoes are stored for six months in a gigantic shed. Here the chemicals gradually fade until the potatoes are safe to eat. Only then can they be turned into french fries. That's how we grow potatoes?"

  2. wow. Great report Betsy. This is a topic on which I have little knowledge. I definitely learned a lot by reading it. Unfortunately I have no ideas on how to fix the many problems of this industry. It's very much a what goes around-comes around thing. I feel that if an alien race was to observe our activity on Earth, they would wonder why we invest so much into our own demise.

  3. Mr. Oliver, that information is rather disturbing. I just can't quite understand whose idea it was to start doing this in the first place. It seems like common sense that anything that poisons a living thing is something we might not be well off eating.

    I don't have answers for that either! There are alternative such as introducing natural predators for bug related problems, and there are some 'organic' pesticides that are supposedly safe (although I didn't look a whole lot into it), but I think that the main problem is how pesticides (and food in general) are regulated. Treating chemicals like we do pharmaceuticals where it is strenuously tested until it's proven to do more good than harm in the lab before being released into the marketplace seems like an obvious answer, but apparently I'm missing something there.
    As for the aliens, that's probably the main reason they haven't made contact with us. Who would want to associate with people who don't even have it in them to care about themselves?