Farm Press Blog

Anti-pesticide looneys and conspiracy theorists


We hear a lot of negative things about pesticides, but we really don't want to be without them.

Americans love a conspiracy. Some of us believe international secret societies control governments; others that a second gunman on the grassy knoll killed Kennedy; and some insist that high flying jets are applying “chemtrails” of mind-altering chemicals on unsuspecting citizens.

There is even a large contingent of Americans who believe that both the U.S. and British governments knew in advance of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. One camp of kooks swear up and down that a missile hit the Pentagon, not Flight 77, despite people who were right there and saw the plane hit the building. If true, the witnesses have somehow managed to keep their secret close for 12 years, while quietly resisting the temptation to sell publishing rights to a book for a couple of mil.

“It’s all a lie to start a war for oil,” one hare brain on a Web site declared. “You are all cannon fodder for the war machine.”

Yeah. And Elvis is alive and working in a donut shop in south Memphis.

Strange people, but they’re not much different from the ones who claim that biotechnology companies are taking over the world and pesticides are turning male frogs into females and causing children to lose their attention spans. What’s worse, they pass their outrageous claims on to mainstream news organizations, which have plenty of gusto for controversy, but are the investigative equivalents of a ground sloth.

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What we never see is a news show thoughtfully balancing the risks of pesticides with the benefits of pesticides. For example, according to a 1990 study, a complete ban on pesticides would result in a 27 percent reduction in corn, wheat and soybean production and a 73 percent reduction in crop surpluses. It would eliminate 132,000 jobs, increase price instability, reduce U.S. food aid programs and increase worldwide hunger. It would increase soil erosion by 360 billion pounds and increase fuel use by 337 million gallons.

For all the pesticide bashers out there, here’s the bottom line. If you ban all pesticides – including herbicides, insecticides and fungicides – you would have to extend the ban to home use too. So, if you want ants in your honey, roaches in your kitchen, weeds in your lawn, mold in your bathroom, fleas and ticks on your pets, spots on your apples and pears and all round higher costs for everything, by all means go organic.

And when all that pestilence finally drives you out of house and home, take a drive up to Memphis – you and Elvis can commiserate over coffee and donuts.


Discuss this Blog Entry 5

on Apr 14, 2014

I'm not in the category of "banning all pesticides" but I do want to let you know that we couldn't get rid of our roaches by using several different exterminators (who used pesticides) When we went to all natural products, we got rid of them. And we can keep rid of them. It also takes care of the ants. It also takes care of the ticks and fleas on the dogs and cats.
Did you see in the recent studies on organic corn and bean production, how the yields are pretty much the same?
Like one local farmer who says, "I don't do any farming I have to bend over for", perhaps we make bad decisions sometimes because we are not creative enough to become diversified so we don't have to use pesticides and herbicides. Rotational cropping and grazing if done correctly, I believe could stop most uses of herbicides.
And by the way, we don't have spots on our organic apples and pears. And we don't have ants in our honey.
Organic doesn't sound like too bad of an idea. I'm not really concerned about the high number of chemical company jobs that might be lost. Those folks could either change their focus to organic research or start digging in the dirt like the rest of us. Think about it......

on Apr 14, 2014

Elton, you are sounding a little looney yourself. I do not use pesticides in my home, and have no bug issues. I tried using herbicides to rid my borders of torpedo grass and blackberry vines that have plagued me since Hurricane Katrina. The weeds seemed to thrive after the applications. Research shows that rotational crops can be used to limit the use of herbicides and pesticides. GMOs that incorporate herbicidal or pest killing genes are not something that I want to eat, and I sure want to know whether my sweet corn has Bht or other toxins. Maybe its time to take a step back and think about safer alternatives. This magazine has an article about a new hybrid "resistant" pigweed. Seems to me that chemical companies are forever looking for the next chemical to use on these superweeds we have created, and the one they use just seem to be getting more dangerous for humans and beneficial insects, while providing short lived weed and pest control. I might also point out that the introduction of our usage of herbicides and pesticides and round up (etc) resistant crops bankrupted untold numbers of small farmers in India, nearly destroying a system that had kept many fed for centuries. Looking back toward time honored farming practices might not be such a bad idea.

on Apr 14, 2014

Interesting use of nonsense Ethan. Let me help you with some scientific facts, just because you seem to have confused "kooks" with scientists;
The EPA toxic chemical list includes many pesticides that are known carcinogenics, atrazine, organgophosphates, Alachlor, Captan, Mancozeb, Metam Sodium (Vapam), well, the list is at least 100 sense writing all the names here.
Your "logic" seems to imply that we choose either a reduction in crop yields or cancer.... did you honestly just make that assertion? Well, yes you did when you purposefully omitted the scientific fact that at least 100 pesticides are classified as carcinogens by the EPA (as well as virtually all foreign nations who have banned them) and that thousands of components used in pesticides are also classified as carcinogens.
And you also purposefully omit the endocrine disruptor group of pesticides and the impact they have on numerous health issues including gender-bending.
That is the problem, people like you write nonsense on a website that panders to these very same chemical manufacturing companies and get paid to call anyone who has issues with your "golden geese" crazy.
However, the great thing about karma (and cancer) is that it strikes the rich, poor, intelligent and ignorant. Regardless of which group you fall into, or your family, I am willing to bet there is cancer sooner than later.
Who will you blame then Mr. Robinson? God? "Kooks?" "Hippies?" Environmentalists?"
Good luck with that.

on Apr 14, 2014

Good perspective from your readers, as I don't quite follow your logic either. Almost as if a person stood around a gas pump a bit too long in those days of leaded gasoline.

You know dem scientists could actually follow the lead blood levels in children pre- and post- unleaded gas. And lead makes a person, a community, and a nation a bit dumber all together. Maybe that's what is behind all those conspiracy theories.

on Apr 15, 2014

Some conspiracies are out-landish but some contain facts just not enough facts. I'll skip past your rant on the crazy and go right to your point and explain the other side of the fence to which you should consider. Now you start referencing statistics from the 90's which is a little off because it is 2014. I'll use corn as my example. If you look at the economy "today" you will "learn" that corn is about 80-90% genetically modified to be resistant to a pesticide that is manufactured by the same companies that manufacture the seeds. The main ingredient to the pesticide has been linked to negative health effects. Just some fact about the pesticide now back to the economy. China who purchases a large quantity of corn has refused to purchase this year because of its GMO status. Now farmers who've these crops are screwed because they can't sell them. The current battle now is should these seed companies be held liable because farmers can't sell them. It all goes back to pesticides. Sorry for not doing a great write up with more info but don't think it's all conspiracy. Research GMO and the companies that make them. Your point of view is mis informed do some more research.

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