Once upon a time, long before we knew of any health risks associated with using chemicals to promote the growth of harvest, this seemed like a godsend. Long removed were the times where an outbreak of insects or nutrient-depleted soil limited output. We could now grow virtually anything virtually anywhere and with virtually no limit.
However, the more people started using fertilizers and pesticides, the more we found out that these things were dangerous and even potentially deadly. Is it worth the risk of human health to continue to achieve a plentiful harvest?
Like it or not, there are many health issues resulting from the use of chemical enhancers in farming, and you can be affected by these chemicals without having to eat the produce.
For a clear explanation of the food chain contamination, check out this video of the National Geographic Institute.
Some of the Risks
Once pesticides and fertilizers seep into the ground, they can easily make their way to the water supply and thus infect people. Children in the womb are at the biggest risk of all, as their defenses are extremely limited.
Chemicals are responsible for negatively influencing neurological development, immune system development, and some children grow up showing patterns of aggression.
The dangers here are not only rumors. Scientists have tested the affects of these chemicals in mice, delivering it to them through their drinking water. The mice exhibited altered immune systems and endocrine nervous system functions, which, when happening in humans, can create serious problems.
Some of the most dangerous—and, unfortunately, most common—chemicals used include: aldicarb (insecticide), atrazine (herbicide), and nitrate (fertilizer). Fluoride pollution as a result of phosphorous leads to mottled teeth in children.
In most countries today, the use of these harmful chemicals is strictly prohibited on a commercial basis. However, it is nearly impossible to police the entire agriculture industry. Besides, where one chemical is found to be harmful, it can be replaced with three more that meet preliminary standards but may still be harmful.
The point of this isn’t to scare someone into thinking that the entire agriculture industry is potentially deadly. It’s more to open one’s eyes to the potential dangers.
Chemical buildup and runoff and mixing with water supplies aren’t as frequent as it once was. Does that mean farmers have stopped using chemicals? No. It just means more attention is being paid now not to pollute the surrounding atmosphere.
One negative which can never be combated as long as chemicals are used, however, is the biomagnifications in plants. Once agricultural pesticides are used in large amounts, they essentially become part of the organism and multiply throughout the food chain until the apex of the species is contaminated.
To avoid these sorts of practices and to be on the safe side, buying organic is really the best option. Organic farming doesn’t use chemicals. It’s an all-natural growing process that is safer for the environment and for people consuming the food.