Pesticides are chemicals designed to prevent or manage pests’ effects, such as rodents, bacteria, insects, weeds, and other pests. Most toxins that affect the environment are by-products from other processes such as automobile engine emissions. However, pesticides, which can be harmful to the environment, are manufactured to use them in the environment. As a result, several debates have emerged on the benefits and effects of pesticides and whether we can manage pests without them.
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Furthermore, controversies have arisen on how much control the relevant agencies should have over the manufacture sale and use of pesticides. The recent adverse effects of pesticides that have been witnessed, because most of our farmers and households depend on the same pesticides, have fueled these debates (California Department of Pesticide Regulation, p. 1)
Can today’s society do away with pesticides?
Previous research has proved that American society is highly dependent on pesticides. A complete ban would result in serious problems compared to the environmental benefits that are sought by the ban. For instance, a study done by Knutson and others, which sought to find out the effects of a prohibition of insecticides, fungicides, and herbicides, had the following findings. Such a measure would result in a drop in food production, leading to an increase in food prices. These two conditions would make US farmers less competitive in the global market. The most affected produce would be major grains, peanuts, and cotton. Also, there would be a 27 percent drop in US exports of soybeans and corn drop. All these adverse effects would be summed up by losing jobs for 132 000 people (Delaplane, p. 3).
The findings of the research also challenged the notion that a ban on insecticides would help the environment. It explained that if pesticides were banned, farmers would have to increase the number of acres that they firm to compensate for the per-acre yield that will be lost. This will, in turn, result in a loss of wildlife habitat. With a pesticide ban, farmers would be forced to cultivate their farms more frequently to prevent widespread weeds, which would, in turn, promote high erosion of soil. Also, other countries with lenient environmental laws world increase their pesticide use and produce more, and capitalize on the reduced exports of the US (Delaplane, p. 3).
Another study was done, which concentrated only on the effects of a ban on fungicide. Considering that, fungicides are used to control fungicides, a plant disease that can kill crop plants and produce lethal food poisons. Therefore, it found out that such a ban in the US would reduce vegetables by 21%, fruits by 32%, and wheat by 6%. Worse still is the fact that consumption of such fruits and vegetables can help prevent some cancers and heart disease. Therefore, society cannot afford to operate without pesticides as it serves primary purposes that we cannot do without (Delaplane, p. 3).
Ethical dilemmas faced by Sam in his decision- making process
One of the ethical issues that face Mr. Sam is whether to protect the lives that can be lost through the harmful effects of the pesticides or protect the jobs lost by the ban. A case in point is Mr. Smith, who was mourning his wife, who succumbed to cancer. By supporting a ban, some lives at risk, such as children in school, will be protected. This is because the use of pesticides in schools and anywhere else that the children can access will be banned. On the other hand, some people work in firms that manufacture these pesticides. Other people are employed to apply these pesticides. With the implementation of such a ban, these people risk losing their jobs (Office of Governor M. Jodi Rell, p. 1-2).
Secondly, Sam is torn between protecting the environment and protecting farmers. Farmers use pesticides to control pests. This ensures that they get high and healthy produce. However, a ban on pesticides will mean that their products will be reduced and their quality will be affected. On the other hand, environmental activists would support the ban. This is because the use of pesticides is believed to cause harm to the environment. For instance, the pesticides used might be washed downstream, and this leads to the pollution of water. Therefore, banning pesticides would help prevent water pollution. As a result, of the two opposing sides, Sam is in a dilemma because by supporting one, he will be voting against the other (Parendes & Burris para. 7-8)
Effects of the pesticide ban on the county
Implementation of a complete ban would result in an economic drain on the county. Without the help of pesticides, maintenance, and care of facilities would be a great task. For instance, facilities will be exposed to termites. Hence they will be destroyed easily, and new ones will have to be acquired. A complete ban on pesticides might result in pest outbreaks. These can ruin crops and cost farmers a lot of money. Some of the agricultural plants at risk include flowering plants such as mums, which are the county’s biggest crop. Apple orchards, which are sprayed to control pests, will also suffer. Being that the apples are the treasure of the county, it will be forced to purchase from other regions because its supply will be too low to feed its members (Parendes & Burris para. 4-6)
Socially the ban would reduce health problems associated with pesticides, as explained by Josh Martin’s NRCS pesticide report, which pointed out that government records proved that pesticides use resulted in many health problems in the county. Therefore, banning them would reduce their effect, and that means that peoples’ health in the county would be improved. Politically, the ban would attract legal action against the county officials for passing a law that harms the economy of the constituents. If the county passes the law without following the standards that have been put like Quebec in Canada, then it risks being sued by the aggrieved parties (Babbage, 11-13).
I would vote no to allow continued usage of pesticides. My vote is influenced by the many benefits derived from the use of pesticides compared to the harm it brings. Most farmers rely on pesticides to control pests and have quality and healthy produce. In the case of a ban, the alternative is costly for both the farmers and the county. Also, some of the harms attributed to pesticides have been magnified; hence they do not show their real state. For instance, research has shown that the environmental damage attributed to pesticides cannot be compared to the adverse effects experienced if pesticides are not used.
Babbage, Maria. Ontario to enact toughest pesticide ban in Canada. (2000). Web.
California Department of Pesticide Regulation. What is a pesticide?. (n.d). Web.
Delaplane, Keith, S. Pesticide Usage in the U.S.: History, Benefits, Risks and Trends B 1121.
Office of the Governor M. Jodi Rell Governor Rell Signs Law Extending Ban Use of Pesticides on School Grounds. 2007. Web.
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Parendes, L. A. and Burris S. H., Pesticides: Can We Do Without Them? (2005). Web.