The topic of pesticide contamination is of paramount importance for humanity today. Getting into the soil, these substances find their way into vegetables and plants, with which they get into animals and eventually into humans through the food chain. The entry of pesticides into the soil happens during planting and fertilizing the land. In the processes of hydrolysis, oxidation and demethylation, pesticides decompose, sometimes with the formation of toxic products. Chemicals such as “atrazine, paraquat, methyl bromide, chloropicrin, chlorpyrifos, abamectin, bifenthrin, oxamyl, tefluthrin, lambda-cyhalothrin and diphacinone” can lead to the death of insects and illnesses in animals and people (Donley). That is why it is essential to put a stop to the accumulation of pesticides in the soil and promote ecological farming. Therefore, urgent action must be taken to solve the consequences of pesticide overuse, spills, and improper disposal by adopting safer and more sustainable policies.
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Pesticides get into the soil with fertilizers and have a toxic effect on different animals. Many fertilizers reduce the number of ground beetles and ants to a greater extent; carbamates destroy ticks and millipedes. Secondary poisoning has been cited as the cause of spider deaths after eating toxic insects. Insecticides on soil fauna are manifested in a decrease in the number of species living on agricultural land. Thus, insecticides that are directly introduced into the soil, especially in large doses, have a more toxic effect on representatives of the soil biota. These can lead to the death of soil fauna and even to the end of entire populations, while herbicides and fungicides have a less toxic effect (Veres et al., 2020). Birds can die when picking up pickled seeds that have been contaminated. In case of environmental pollution with pesticide residues, fish-eating and predatory birds located at the end of food chains may die first. During chemical plant protection, animals are exposed to danger due to poisoning of their food or directly from the negative effects of pesticides, leading them to flee from the affected areas.
The toxicity of pesticides to humans varies and depends on many reasons. Pesticides are hazardous, characterized by high resistance in the external environment, pronounced cumulative properties, and the ability to be transferred with the milk of nursing mothers. The adverse effect of pesticides on the human body can manifest itself in acute and chronic poisoning. These manifestations are most often accompanied by diseases of the digestive system and cardiovascular systems.
Many countries are now adopting a policy of gradually reducing the number of pesticides used. For example, organic farming has recently become an acclaimed alternative to the use of pesticides. This type of farming presupposes increasing productivity of soil with the use of natural fertilizers, gradually abandoning pesticides. The industry is now producing preparations that enrich the soil with fungi, algae, and bacteria necessary for its normal functioning.
Another method used to replace pesticides in farming is agricultural biological protection. Biological methods can be divided into two large groups, direct use of living creatures that can be bred and then released into fields or greenhouses and the use of substances derived from them as pesticides. Such natural pesticides are much more environmentally friendly than synthetic ones since they do not contain anything difficult for wildlife to recycle. They also favorably differ in a significant selectivity of action. More and more attention has been paid to the natural presence of entomophagy in the fields in recent years. Modern plant protection measures are based on the utmost preservation of wild populations of entomophagy.
While pesticides increase soil fertility and have protective properties against harmful insects, they can cause severe damage to people and wildlife getting into their bodies with water and food. The notion of ecological farming, which presupposes giving up on pesticides, is becoming more and more popular. Alternative methods which can help to increase the fertility of the soil are the use of organic fertilizers and the breeding of entomophagy. Therefore, more effort should be invested into solutions that do not harm the environment and its inhabitants.
Donley, Nathan. “Toxic Hangover.” Center for Biological Diversity. January 2020, Web.
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Veres, Andrea, et al. “An update of the Worldwide Integrated Assessment (WIA) on systemic pesticides. Part 4: Alternatives in major cropping systems.” Environmental Science and Pollution Research, vol. 27, 2020, pp. 29867-29899. Web.