An Insightful Dig On Pesticides

Over a period of time, the term ‘pesticide’ has been overly used and heard every now and then. With companies bragging about being ‘pesticide-free’ the term looks attractive, however, little is known about these pesticides even though they are a term we use on a daily basis.
Going by a dictionary in simple terminologies pesticides stand for the substance that is used to kill insects or organisms that are harmful to be around the cultivated area. Furthermore, pesticides are classified as Restricted and Unclassified. The Restricted pesticides are harmful to humans while the Unclassified are all the other pesticides. The pesticides are prepared with inert and active materials, however, there have been various tests carried out on the potential side- effects of pesticides that show the harm they cause.
Pesticides are dangerous to human health. Even though they are sprayed on the cultivation, yet they manage to enter the food chain through either the direct application on plants or get absorbed by the animals eating plant residuals. Some amount of pesticides, even get mixed in the soil and at other times they even contaminate the aquatic life, entering the food chain once again via crabs and fishes.
Statistically, there are 2.2 million people that have risked their lives due to constant exposure to agricultural pesticides with the majority of this population being located in developing nations like India.

WHAT ARE THE PROBLEMS CAUSED BY PESTICIDES? When individuals are exposed to forms of pesticides over a period of time, they develop certain issues regarding their health. These issues range from headaches, blurred vision, vomiting, abdominal pain to suppression of the immunity system, blood, and liver-related diseases, depression, asthma, and nerve damage. However, the symptoms are not visible immediately, and that makes it difficult to trace the pesticide that was most likely the cause of the problem.
Statistical updates suggest that there were around 3 million registered cases of poisoning with respect to pesticides out of which 2,20,000 deaths have occurred (Public Health Impacts of Pesticides Used in Agriculture” – WHO/UNEP working group, 1990) however the numbers are growing that is needless to say. 99% of these were estimated to occur in the developing world in spite of these countries account for only 20% of global pesticide use. In 1990, the World Health Statistics Quarterly reported that an estimated 25 million agricultural workers are poisoned by pesticides every year (“Acute Pesticide Poisoning: a major global health problem”, Jeyaratnam, J.World Health Statistics Quarterly 43: 139- 144, 1990).
According to estimates made in 1994, there were 2 to 5 million annual occupational cases of poisoning across the world, with 40,000 fatalities (“Chemicals in the working environment”, World Labour Report, ILO, 1994). According to the Pesticides Action Network Asia and the Pacific, the numbers are higher. It is estimated that around 200,000 people are killed worldwide every year from pesticide poisoning. Daily, 68,000 farmers and workers are poisoned by pesticides and yearly, an estimated 25 million workers suffer pesticide poisoning around the world. 2004, Centre for Sustainable Agriculture and Modern Architects for Rural India documented acute poisoning cases that have reached 6 government hospitals and one private hospital in a small area of the Warangal district of Andhra Pradesh, during the Kharif of 2004. There were 202 cases of acute poisoning through occupational exposure (inhalation poisoning) that were documented in just such a small number of hospitals. In eight cases, death due to exposure was reported.
Imparting organic farming knowledge to the farmers, especially in the northern region of the country, is the need of the time. Whether organic farming is sufficient to quench the hunger of the entire nation is still a question to be answered, however looking at the conditions of radical pesticide use, important steps are required to be taken.

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