Pesticide use is widespread in agriculture throughout the world, raising serious questions about the dangers theses substances pose to human health and the environment . Pesticides are substances intended to prevent, destroy, or repel injurious plants or animals. The term is frequently defined more broadly to include insecticides, herbicides (used to inhibit the growth and reproduction of certain plants), and fungicides (used to inhibit the growth of molds, mildews, and yeasts).
The main argument for pesticides use is an economic one. Pesticides can protect crops against sudden pest outbreaks and allow increased production, and they can ensure the production of more attractive fruits and vegetables. By delaying the rotting of produce, pesticides permit longer shipping times and extend the shelf life of fresh produce.
The dangers of pesticide use can be difficult to pinpoint, since exposure may be small but cumulative. Prolonged pesticide exposure in humans may negatively affect the nervous, reproductive, and immune systems and also raises the possibility of increased risk of some cancers. Their use also leads to the development of pesticide-resistant bugs, creating a need for newer and more powerful pesticides.
Wardlaw, Gordon; Hampl, Jeffrey; and DiSilvestro, Robert (2004). Perspectives in Nutrition. New York: McGraw-Hill.
United States Environmental Protection Agency. "Pesticides." Available from <http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/>