Food Chain Radio News
Food Chain Radio Show #984
Michael Olson, Author & Urban Farming Agriculturalist
A BILLION POUNDS OF POISON
Are pesticides safe?
Guests: Andre Leu, President, International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements and Author, The Myths of Safe Pesticides
Agriculture in the United States now uses a billion pounds– give or take– of pesticides every year to grow the nation’s food. There are two ways of looking at pesticides.
One way to look at pesticides is from the perspective of the producer. Given food crops that have been genetically-engineered to both contain and withstand pesticides, one producer can now grow thousands of acres of crops from the air-conditioned comfort of a tractor cab, with no insect or weed pests! The degree to which pesticides allow producers to control their environments is unprecedented in the 10,000 year history of agriculture, and therefore when looked at from the perspetive of those producers, pesticides are likely to look to be a pretty good deal.
The other way to look at pesticides is from the perspective of the consumer. Given the relative ease with which one producer can now grow thousands of acres of food, the consumer now has an abundance of food from which to select. However, when the consumer pauses to consider what’s in food, he or she is left to wonder, ‘What’s in this for me, other than food that has been infused with pesticide and drenched in herbicide?’ Not such a good deal!
These two ways of seeing pesticides present a difference of opinion as to the efficacy of their use, and so provide the source for a significant amount of conflict up and down the food chain. This conflict could be resolved if consumers could be convinced pesticides are safe, and so we pause to ask…