by Allen Parsons III
PAN - Pesticide Action Network, Allen Parsons


Pesticides have created a global controversy. Pesticides challenge the idea of whether or not they should continue in use. Pesticides serve as a major economic boost for crop growers and farmers, giving them more stock from their harvest. But, Pesticides also cause mass spread poisonings across the world each year especially in major farming industries. Causing harm in other areas of the world as well as weakening other economic structures. This is only one of the arguments towards pesticides and their legality in the United States.


The general public should be taught the dangers of pesticide use and have a voice to stop it from continuing to be sold, or used carelessly.

Pesticide Use and Public Opinion

Pesticides are used almost everywhere in the world from killing off an annoying roach to spraying entire fields to keep them pure of insects. The only problem with this is the toxicity of the chemicals we decide to toss around to simply kill insects and coat are plants. That’s what the public view doesn’t know, is how easily they can infect themselves with these chemicals and what side effects they can cause. As said by Laura Caballero, Lideres Campesinas (Salinas, CA Public Meeting July 25, 1996) "Twenty-two years that I have been working in the fields, I've seen more illnesses, more children being born ill, more families that miss work because every day they have more problems, headaches. Sometimes their children are sick and they have to miss work. . . . We live in a depression. We don't know if it's because of the chemicals.” Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). This shows a lack of public knowledge towards the chemicals and many are still skeptical of the hidden trap the pesticides posses. These average crop growing families around the world are being hit the hardest with pesticide use. They take almost the full brunt of ariel spraying from planes, are in fields harvesting plants with the noxious chemicals still in full affect. These are unacceptable regulations to follow and should be taught to the subjects of these heinous chemicals.

The general public, and more importantly the users of the pesticides should be informed of its danger. People may already recognize the risk pesticides portray but don’t acknowledge it because of the indifference towards learning about it. To continue forwards people need to become more knowledgeable towards this subject. Not only willing to learn it, but looking forward to the newer information that may be presented in the future, from scientific advances to even retested flaws of the product. These reasons need to be taken into account if the users of these deadly chemicals value their health and the wellbeing of others.

Definitions and Terminology

A couple terms that the reader should know to fully understand this paper are; biomagnification which means ‘the concentration of a toxin into a targeted animal usually farther up the food chain from a more dispersed area of the toxin from the lower end of the food chain, United States Geological Survey (USGS). For example every worm in a area is infected with 2 grams of a toxin, a chicken eats several of those worms and is infected with around 6-8 grams of that toxin, this can continue to transfer up the ecosystem increasing the amount of poison. Another term to know is pesticides which is defined as a ‘substance used to kill off undesired invaders of crops. A fertilizer is a chemical or substance used in soil or ground to increase fertility in that area (USGS). PAN, Fully known as the Pesticide Action Network encourage people to stray away from the use of pesticides and use more natural alternatives, Pesticide Action Network (PAN).

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History and Information

Pesticides were originally used in chemical warfare during WWII and since than the by-products and leftovers of those chemicals, have become pest/weed killers. These chemicals that were transformed into pesticides were mostly discovered accidentally, usually by german scientist during the war. For example a couple chemicals that were reverted to a less deadly pesticide are DDT, Toxaphene, Dieldrin, Aldrin. These pesticides all fall under the category of Organochlorines which cause reproductive, nervous system, immune system, and endocrine defects.
Pesticides are categorized into a few major areas one being Chemical Pesticides, the other being Bio-pesticides. Chemical pesticides are lab created carcinogenic mixtures that kill off their targeted species by disrupting enzymes in the nervous system. Bio-pesticides are naturally found or lab created and usually consist of organisms of the naturally known counter to a certain pest or plant. For example, If you have a fungi in a bio-pesticide it may only kill off a certain type of plant, but if you you have another type of fungi, bacteria, or some other organism for the bio-pesticide it could kill off an insect or animal, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Pesticides don’t themselves necessarily cause cancer but do increase the rate of contracting cancer and its growth rate within the body. People who have touched certain pesticides have high likely hood of dying or begin to to take on major symptoms that could lead to death if not taken care of quickly. Pesticides, depending on the type can cause certain allergic reactions. For example, hives. Which could be a pesticide related reaction, leading medical professionals astray(Culliney, T. W., D. Pimental, and T. Bashore).
Public perception on pesticides is overall quite laid-back to what it should be. Silent Spring written by Rachel Carson goes more in-depth with this idea of the general public being to willing to use pesticides so freely. “Where do pesticides fit into the picture of environmental disease? We have seen that they now contaminate our soil, water, and food, that they have the power to make our streams fishless and our gardens and woodlands silent and birdless. Man, however much he may like to pretend the contrary, is part of nature. Can he escape the pollution that is now so thoroughly distributed throughout the world?” (Silent Spring 188). Miss Carson continues on to say that the general public should be informed of the horrors that await farmers and spraymen, users of the pesticides. “For the Population as a whole, we must be more concerned with the delayed affects of absorbing small amounts of the pesticides that invisibly contaminate our world.” (Silent Spring 188). Finally Miss Carson goes on to quote Dr. René Dubos “Men are naturally most impressed by the diseases which have obvious manifestations,” says a wise physician, Dr. René Dubos, “yet some of their worst enemies creep on them unobtrusively.” The human species is only impressed by speed and how fast something can get done, not simple time needing things. The same goes towards diseases, People as a species don’t see the threat in a poison that kills over the course of 10 years, But are more feared by atomic bombs, Would even prefer to use that against others than a more unscrupulous poison.

Public View

Most people tend to believe that they don’t have a choice in the matter of pesticide use, that it’s all done by government decision (Culliney, T. W., D. Pimental, and T. Bashore). human-agency.jpgDepending on where someone lives their beliefs, morals, job, and a multitude of other reasons may be adjusted to fit the community. If they live in a pesticide, fertilizer pro community where thats all they use in that environment it will have an impact towards the idea of banning pesticides. But usually most people have wanted to speak yet, have a fear of being convicted or becoming an outcast to the general population, who mostly as of now accept pesticide use. Most people are underestimating or don’t know the lethality of pesticides and the dangers they can cause. This is not saying that these people are ignorant to pesticides but rather they have been misinformed of the dangers pesticides posses.They just need to be re-educated on the matter allowing them to understand the poisons and the danger they posses to man and the earth.

Economical, Agricultural, and Political Viewpoints

The economical, agricultural, and political pros and cons of pesticides are what allow it to stay in garden centers or stores. Its because in the eyes of the economy the good in this outweighs the bad. How the good out weighs the bad in this case is agriculturally and economically it generates mass amounts of income for the sellers and appliers of the pesticides as well as increasing the overall amount of food production. Politically not all that much, because as soon as people that care find out about what the government and FDA have allowed to be used since the late 1930s they lose trust in it and become more skeptical towards what is just nationally used (Jorgenson, Andrew K., and Kennon A. Kuykendall).
Pesticides have a major impact on wildlife because of how long certain pesticides take to degrade into the soil and become non-toxic it can cause poisonings in animals who simply venture into the area a week later. According to government scientist interviewed by Rachel Carson author of Silent Spring, cows are even being injected with pesticides that kill off a disease extremely lethal to cows know as the cattle grub. “Extreme care must be used in order to create an insecticidal effect in the blood and tissues of the host without setting up a fatal poisoning. The balance is delicate and government veterinarians have found that repeated small doses can gradually deplete an animals supply of the protective enzyme cholinesterase, so that without warning a minute additional dose will cause poisoning.” (Silent Spring Pg. 34). Test have been made on plants, that residue is still there even past the supposedly safe wait time where the pesticide is claimed to be neutral. Pesticides kill off certain insects and pest, but in return the pests adapt, making the pesticide weaker to the target and creates a need for more toxic chemicals in order to kill off the targeted species, well humans are only exposed every so often and don’t necessarily take on the full affects if it is constant. Therefore when a person comes in contact with the new highly more toxic chemical its far more potent and could lead to extreme allergic reactions and even immediate death.

Results if Left Unattended

The result of biomagnification can cause higher amounts of poisonings in creatures as they progress through the food chain for example if the cow eats infected grass its taking in all the toxins from each individual grass blade and adding it to itself. This result of biomagnification is horribly bad for the creatures, not only poisoning them but destroying their offspring because of mutations and enzymes being destroyed in the parent cells. Which are than passed on to the offspring often causing ether “miscarriage” or extremely deformed creatures that can’t live for more than a week.
Pollution of streams and oceans caused by pesticide and fertilizer dumping, can cause algae to grow in areas of ponds or even oceans to blot out the sun denying plankton to absorb sun and denying oxygen in the water. Fertilizer runoff from on shore gardens are what cause higher showings of “Red Tide” in Maine, which is a massive bloom of algae in a certain area that is harmful for humans to consume, causing respiratory irritation and even paralysis if the right algae is growing (EPA).
Multiple steps and pre-cautions are being taken to help rid the use of pesticides or at least the most deadly of the bunch. Certain amendments are being passed for example an amendment was passed by the House of Representatives disapproving the practice of testing pesticides on human subjects(Jocelyn Kaiser). This shows people are finally starting to realize the significance of pesticides and the dangers they can cause. Another example is PAN Who are following several unique goals to their cause which are, “Protect health and the environment by eliminating highly hazardous pesticides from the market and replacing them with sustainable solutions. Resist development and stop the introduction and use of genetic engineering into agricultural production systems. Promote empowerment of grassroots movements and citizens to fight agrochemical and seed corporations and challenge corporate globalization. Increase public investment, development, adoption and implementation of non-chemical alternative pest management systems. And develop further PAN International structures (PAN). PAN as an organization has set a line of goals to reach, which mostly focus around the wellbeing of the planet, people and the acknowledgement that pesticides are bad products and should be switched for more natural alternatives.

Steps Being Taken to Improve the Issue

As researched by Jocelyn Kaiser the House of Representatives has added a amendment denying any use of pesticide testing on human subjects, even with the subjects consent. “The amendment is the latest twist in a 7-year debate about so-called human dosing experiments, in which companies pay volunteers to ingest tiny amounts of pesticides to help determine safe exposure levels. Companies began conducting more such studies after a 1996 law required that EPA tighten pesticide safety levels to protect children. But the agency held off on using them after an advocacy group complained that they were unethical and later requested a study by the National Academies' National Research Council (NRC).”
PAN or Pesticide Action Network is informing people and starting peaceful campaigns against pesticide use. Other more violent groups have also emerged breaking into GMO (Genetically modified Organisms) gardens, labs etc. And are killing off the research which a multitude of people have mixed feeling about (Seeds of Conflict 38-46). This can lead to a struggle for PAN’s ideas, making it harder for certain people to get on board because of what “PAN” might of done.


The public should be given a voice and the knowledge to challenge the use of pesticides and how they choose to have it applied. Steps that should be taken are people should become further educated in general about what they put into one’s body. People should act on the idea of stopping pesticides, exercise the right to freedom of speech, and people should be informed of what pesticides, fertilizers, etc. Can do to damage our already fragile ecosystem and world.

Other Sources Focusing on This Issue: Gives major in-site on all subjects surrounding pesticides. Is a organization or network of people in the world trying to find alternatives towards pesticides and points you in directions to help the cause. Gives more in-depth definitions and usages of pesticides, in short a dictionary of the subject.


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