Why You Shouldn’t Fear Pesticides

Written By David Pinzon
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Plants can’t move, so they have to grow where the seed falls. However, there are always other plants competing for that spot, plus insects, fungi and viruses looking for a place to feed and reproduce. If these things are not controlled with pesticides, crops will not grow to their full potential.

Just like us, if we don’t eat enough food, we will still develop but not as well as our genetics allow us to. With crops, if there are weeds competing for resources, the crop will still grow but won’t produce as much as it could. And if the crop is sick, the food it produces is going to be either reduced or its quality affected.

Facts About Pesticides

Pesticides can be organic or synthetic. Think vitamin C, for example, it can be synthesized in a lab, you can get it in a supplement (synthetic) or you can get it from oranges (organic). Whether something is natural or synthetic doesn’t dictate its safety — the chemical characteristics determine how much of something is safe to consume. Here are three more facts about pesticides:

1. Farmers only use pesticides if it is necessary.

Pesticide are only applied when it is necessary. They are an extra expense for farmers. But pesticides help plants grow to their full potential, allowing farmers to produce more food on the same amount of land, which, in turn, feeds more people.

2. Farmers spray pesticides on plants in the same plot of land they and their families live, eat and drink.

Farmers have been using pesticides around their homes for generations, while being able to enjoy a healthy life with their families. Knowing pesticides are carefully used, farmers also are comfortable feeding and cooking with the products they sustainably grow on their land.

3. We are only exposed to trace amounts of pesticides from what we eat.

Whether the food is produced in your country or elsewhere, there are strict trade regulations that control the maximum amount of pesticides food can have, and those levels are well below any level of concern for human health. The acceptable amount of pesticide consumption is established assuming you’ll eat the typical maximum serving of that food every day!

When scientists in regulatory agencies around the world assess the safety of pesticides, they take into account the highest-possible amount we can be exposed to, including those with the highest exposure — farmers — and those who are more vulnerable — children, pregnant women and seniors. This includes a maximum pesticide residue level well below what is considered harmful to these audiences. Meaning, there are sufficient levels of control to ensure pesticides are used safely, so you can feel good about consuming any item at the grocery store.

I know we want all the information at our fingertips to help make a thoughtful decision. As a scientist and father of two daughters, I am usually driven to that, but it is not always possible because we can’t be experts on everything. With all the information we can find on the internet, it is hard to determine what is true and what is false. So, I encourage you to focus your research on university and government publications. Or let us summarize facts from those sources for you so you can be sure what you put on your plate is safe, regardless of the production method. 

An excellent site to visit to learn more is Best Food Facts. University scientists and experts from around the world answer the most common food production questions.