Those familiar with the DDT controversy know that pesticides can be extremely to ecological and human health. Indeed, pesticides, and not just DDT, often cause harm to organisms other than their intended targets. Pesticides sprayed on farms often contaminate rivers, lakes, and groundwater, killing fish, plants, and birds. Additionally, the World Health Organization estimates that three million agricultural workers suffer from severe poisoning related to pesticides, and eighteen thousand of those workers die from said poisonings. The health effects associated with conventional pesticides include neurological effects, digestive system problems, infertility, and birth defects.
Many “environmentalists” advocate “natural” pesticide chemicals, but these are sometimes more harmful than synthetic chemicals. For example, the pesticide rotenone, derived from plant roots, is known to cause Parkinson’s disease and cellular damage in humans and animals.
Pest control is certainly a dilemma, and has been since ancient times. There exist plants and animals whose presence has always harmed farming communities, and pest control of some form is necessary to farming. Animal infestations spread disease in residential areas, and some insects can even eat the houses themselves. Obviously infestations cannot be ignored. It would seem that there is no way to avoid the use of harmful pesticides.
There are, however, ways to mitigate pest infestations that do not involve the use of chemicals, ways which we refer to “natural pest control”. For farmers, the issue of environmentally-responsible pest control is a complicated one. Pesticides increase crop yields, and may be required to produce enough food to feed an overpopulated world. In residential areas, some pesticides can be replaced with other pest control methods. For example, mosquito populations can be managed by eliminating standing water outdoors, thereby leaving female mosquitoes with nowhere to lay their eggs. Homeowners can also do research on plants that resist infestation to plant in their yards.
Recognizing the role of humans in animal infestations is a first step to combating the problem. For example, raccoon infestations in neighborhoods are fed by unsecured trash, and many animals become a problem as their predators are eliminated by human development. The destruction of bat habitats allows the insects they once fed upon to multiply, and declining populations of birds of prey allow rats to flourish. Reintroducing these predators and providing them with substitute habitats may solve some pest problems. Also, habitat destruction causes animals that once lived in said habitats to move into the areas humans have commandeered. The solution to this problem is a complicated one, perhaps best covered in an article on frugality.
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