I am currently a student at Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, and I wanted to shed light on a controversial topic of agriculture I believe many people do not understand.
The topic is the use of pesticides in growing and managing plants. I feel many people have outdated ideas about pesticides and I would like to explain why the use of pesticides in agriculture is not something to fear.
Today, pesticides are just another tool that plant growers use to manage pests such as weeds, fungi and insects. Pesticides make up one part of a management method that growers use called Integrated Pest Management. IPM combines different control techniques to maintain pests at respectable levels.
Along with pesticides, growers now utilize plants that are resistant to pests. Different cultural, biological and mechanical controls are also used to manage the effect of pests on plants. Pesticides are a last resort in an IPM program. The other possible control methods must have been considered, and applied if possible, before using a pesticide.
Citizens of the U.S. can also rest easy knowing the Environmental Protection Agency regulates and approves all pesticides for use in the United States. Products are tested for years and have to pass many tests before they can be approved for public use.
The EPA also passed the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act. This act established the formation of two categories of pesticides. These two categories are restricted use pesticides and non-restricted use pesticides.
Pesticides are placed in the restricted use category if there is unreasonable, adverse environmental and/or unreasonable health effects associated with the product. To be able to apply a pesticide from the restricted use category, the person making the application must have a pesticide applicator license.
A pesticide applicator license is earned by passing a test that proves the prospective applicator is capable of safely applying the pesticide. By having to pass a test, it also shows that today’s pesticide applicators are much more educated in pesticides compared to the applicators of the past. All pesticides need to be respected and used in accordance to their label.
Yes, some pesticides are highly toxic substances; I am not saying they are not. When applying any type of pesticide, always read the label first. A pesticide’s label is a legally binding document. If an applicator does not follow the instructions on the label, they are breaking the law. Everyone will be safe as long as the directions on the label are followed.
I am not an expert in chemicals or pesticides, nor am I not pretending to be one. I am just a student who would like to share the information he has learned with others, and explain why pesticides are not something to live in fear of.
For more information on pesticides, I encourage you to contact your closest Ohio State University Extension office.