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Ddt and Pesticides

By ricktheman86 Mar 18, 2008 994 Words
In today's society the government plays an important part in the movements of environmentalists and "green" issues. These concerns are presented as choices of either economic growth or environmental protection. These environmentalists have been trying to ban a usage of a chemical that is a major issue presented in many countries and is a big threat to the environment and humans. I too share the same dream as an environmentalist to ban the usage of DDT in all countries around the world. While many developed countries have taken this issue very seriously and have banned the use of DDT, it is still being used in some countries. DDT or 2,2-bis(p-chlorophenyl)-1,1,1,-trichloroethane, is used as an insecticide. First introduced during the 1940s, it killed insects that spread disease and feed on crops. Swiss scientist Paul Müller was awarded the 1948 Nobel Prize in Physiology and discovered the properties of DDT. However, is toxic to many animals, including humans, unfortunately it is insoluble in water, and fat soluble. It moves very easily through the environment, in such way that regions that have not yet been sprayed with DDT have shown a clear site of it such as the bottom of the ocean. DDT also breaks down very slowly in the environment and it concentrates in body tissue. The publishing of Rachel Carson's Silent Spring in the 1960s, argues that DDT and pesticides caused cancer and also there has been concern regarding the effects of chemical pesticides on the environment. In the environment, the biological concentration of chemical pesticides tends to increase the higher the animal is in the food chain. DDT, for example, severely reduced the rate of reproduction in many fish and birds. Most of the pesticides can also harm people either directly or indirectly through the food chain. The publication of Carson's Silent Spring brought a big concern to the public and the pressures grow in United States to affect a ban on DDT. After the United States banned its use in 1972, the wildlife population returned. During the World War II DDT was extensively used to control the insects and a deadly disease that till today has brought many deaths all around the world know as malaria. Nevertheless, DDT use continues in parts of the world, particularly in tropical regions, to control the mosquitoes that spread malaria. In some parts DDT is no longer effective on malaria in such way that their population has increased and they have become immune to the chemical. These immune mosquitoes bred uncontrolled by their natural enemies who were also killed by the DDT. Eventually DDT no longer worked. By this time the animals had been accumulating quite a lot of DDT in their tissues. This caused the shells of bird eggs to become so thin that the shells broke when they were incubated. On the contrary, many consumers are concerned about the effects of pesticide residues in foods, especially for infants, whose systems may not be able to convert toxic chemicals into harmless substances as readily as adult systems can. Many farm workers, pesticide factory workers, and children become ill due to exposure to toxic pesticides, especially the organophosphates. This is more common in the least developed nations because regulations are not as strict and people are not educated about the dangers. This brings into question the benefits of using these pesticides. In addition, concerns have been raised for farm workers in developing countries that lack the protective safeguards required in the United States; their health is threatened by the continued use of pesticides that are known health hazards. Efforts are being made to reduce chemical pesticide use in favor of Integrated Pest Management (IPM), biological controls, and plant breeding for inherent pest resistance. Integrated Pest Management (IPM), planned program that coordinates economically and environmentally acceptable methods of pest control with the judicious and minimal use of toxic pesticides. IPM programs are based on a careful assessment of local conditions, including such factors as climate, crop characteristics, and the biology of the pest species, agricultural practices, soil quality, and government regulations. Chemical pesticides now undergo exhaustive and expensive trials prior to government registration and release. In conclusion the use of chemical pesticides demonstrates that we do not know a lot about how the worlds of plants, insects, animals, and humans interact. DDT was hailed as a miracle chemical. It was sprayed everywhere. Unfortunately it is insoluble in water, soluble in fat, and breaks down very slowly in the environment. It also concentrates in body tissue. In most areas of the world we have stopped using it. But some countries are still using it because it is cheap monetarily but environmentally expensive. We are now just beginning to use a form of integrated pest management. We do not always spray chemicals at the first sight of infestation. Some people are using predator insects which eat the "bad" ones. There are carnivorous snails that eat garden snails not plants. Something else we are experimenting with is the release of sterile insects to mate with the "wild" insects. This causes a decline of population. Most of the pesticides can also harm people either directly or indirectly through the food chain. Certainly without pesticides food would be a lot more expensive because it would be less plentiful. We have been using these things since the end of WWII. Before that, people managed pretty well. Perhaps we should ease off on the use of chemical pesticides until and unless we really know what we are doing.


Whorton, J. Before Silent spring; pesticides and public health in pre-DDT America [by] James Whorton. Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press, c1974

Canada. Agriculture and Agri-Food Cananda. Pesticide Risk Reduction and Minor Use Programs. Ottawa : Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, 2003

Darwin, Hall., Moffitt, Joe. Economics of pesticides, sustainable food production, and organic food markets. Oxford : JAI/Elsevier Science, 2002

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