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Chemical Farming versus Organic Farming. Comparing the Impact on Human Health and The Environment

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Source:pangti.com

Chemical farming is the most widespread way of farming. It is the conventional way in which large agricultural societies grow crops that end up in stores. It may be the cheapest and easiest option but it surely isn’t the best choice for humans or the environment. Organic farming, however, even though it may imply a greater cost of production and more work, has significant benefits on our health and the health of our planet.

Human Health Hazards Chemical Farming Poses

Source:pinterest

Conventional farming allows the use of various highly toxic chemicals that have a negative impact on both the environment and on human health. Pesticides are agrochemicals used in the agricultural sector to protect plants from various pests, diseases, and weeds. Among these chemicals are insecticides, fungicides, herbicides, rodenticides, and plant growth regulators. These chemicals may be a great help for generating an increased profit for agricultural societies but the risks they pose far outweigh the financial benefits.

One of the most toxic chemicals currently being widely used in the US even though it is banned in most countries, even in China, is Paraquat. Paraquat is a herbicide linked to the development of Parkinson’s disease, among other serious health problems. Only one sip of this poisonous chemical can be fatal and still, the US is falling behind in banning its use. For more information visit this website.

Pesticides in the Air

Source:grist.org

An important issue with the use of pesticides in spraying agricultural fields is that the toxic substances become airborne and can drift away on distances up to a few miles, poisoning the air of nearby communities.

For example, a 2009 study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology showed that paraquat applications within 500 meters of personal homes increase the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease by a staggering 75%.

Pesticides on Our Tables

Studies have shown that pesticide residues can be found in a variety of products, such as water, wine, vegetables, fruit juices, or grains. Furthermore, peeling and washing do not completely remove the residues which can accumulate in the body in various forms, posing a serious health risk. You can check out one of the studies here.

Short and Long-Term Health Hazards Associated with Pesticides Exposure

Source:foodunfolded.com

If the concentration of toxic compounds in the air is high enough, acute health effects appear. Immediate health problems associated with pesticides exposure include:

  • stinging eyes
  • rashes
  • blisters
  • blindness
  • nausea
  • dizziness
  • diarrhea
  • death

Chronic health effects can develop months or years after exposure or during prolonged exposure. They include:

  • cancers
  • birth defects
  • reproductive harm
  • neurological and developmental toxicity,
  • immunotoxicity
  • disruption of the endocrine system
  • Parkinson’s

Chemical Farming’s Impact on the Environment

Pesticides used in agricultural processes can contaminate the soil, water, turf, or other vegetation. Insecticides and herbicides are among the most toxic compounds. Besides killing insects and weeds, pesticides can be toxic to a great number of other organisms such as birds, fish, beneficial insects, and non-target plants.

Surface Water Contamination

Pesticides can enter surface waters from treated plants and soil. This is a widespread phenomenon near conventional agricultural fields but also in urban areas. A comprehensive set of studies done by the U.S. Geological Survey, in the ‘90s, on several major river basins across the country has shown that pesticides, primarily herbicides, are frequently found in agricultural streams and shallow groundwater. Several different pesticides were found in more than 90 percent of water and fish samples from all of the analyzed streams. Click here for the full study and results.

Individual concentrations of found pesticides generally did not exceed USEPA drinking-water standards and guidelines. Pesticide concentrations over the allowed standard were found in only less than 1%  of the sampled wells. But this is not necessarily good news. The problem is that for many toxic pesticides, standards don’t even exist or, for those that do exist, there is no information about the dangers that exposure to a mixture of them can pose as the exposure assessments are based on controlled experiments with a single type of pesticide.

Chemical vs Organic Farming

Source:naturespath.com

The main difference between chemical farming and organic farming is that chemical farming relies on the use of pesticides to fight pests, diseases, weeds, and provide plant nutrition where organic farming relies on natural processes, biodiversity, and composting rather than the use of synthetic compounds like chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides.

In opposition to the negative effects that conventional farming has on the environment and human health, organic farming is an agricultural production system that regenerates the health of soils, ecosystems, and people.

Organic agriculture offers a wide variety of benefits as opposed to conventional farming, such as:

  • The use of natural fertilizers and crop rotation helps to improve soil quality over time. Whereas in conventional farming the soil quality degrades over time due to the use of highly toxic artificial pesticides.
  • Organically grown food is higher in nutrients.
  • The soil keeps its fertility.
  • It is sustainable and respects the environment.
  • There is no use of genetically modified organisms ( GMOs)
  • No animal cruelty.
  • No poisoning of the environment or human communities.

Conclusion

Considering the current state of the world, it is very obvious that if we don’t want to continue down a dangerous path, then significant changes are needed over time in how we do many things, including farming. The shift from chemical farming to organic farming is one of the most important changes we have to make to begin building a better, healthier future for both our human communities and our environment.

About the author: As Chief Financial Officer and Director of Claims at Environmental Litigation Group, P.C., Jonathan Sharp is responsible for case evaluation, management of firm assets, and financial analysis, as well as for managing client relations and the collection and proper distribution of all the funds. He has been a part of the team of the law firm, which is located in Birmingham, Alabama, for 27 years. The primary area of practice of Environmental Litigation Group, P.C. is toxic exposure and the legal team has been dedicated their endeavors to pursuing compensation on behalf of people injured by hazardous agents in the workplace or the military. Environmental Litigation Group P.C. has also been handling cases of paraquat and glyphosate exposure over recent years.

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