We explain what pesticides are, what types of pesticides exist and why they are dangerous. In addition, organic pesticides.
What are pesticides?
Pesticides, pesticides or biocides are a type of chemical compounds intended to repel, destroy, prevent or combat any undesirable species of plants or animals.
They are used during the stages of production, storage, transport and distribution of food of agricultural origin, including the substances that are administered to the animals for breeding to strip them of ectoparasites .
This term includes various substances for everyday use in the agricultural industry, other than fertilizers, nutrients, additives and animal medicines. They are used to combat the most frequent pests of food plant species, such as insects, fungi, bacteria, mollusks, small mammals, birds and even other plant species.
Without necessarily constituting poisons, these substances, however, can be harmful to both human beings and other third species, which inadvertently consume them in food or its derived products.
Pesticides of various types have been used since early times in the modern agricultural industry. In the 1980s a real explosion of pesticides occurred that allowed the increase in world agricultural production to revolutionary levels.
Relatively economical and very effective, they even came to be used as a preventive measure, without waiting for signs of any kind of contamination, which led to a catastrophic scenario.
The misuse of pesticides on the one hand caused significant ecological damage that led to the prohibition of many of them (such as DDT, found in the body of species from far latitudes to the place of its application). On the other hand, it led to the emergence of resistant pests or new distinct agricultural pests, such as certain species of mites.
It can serve you: Invasive species
Types of pesticides
There are various types of pesticides, generally designed to attack a specific type of pest, whether animal, microbial or vegetable. Based on this purpose, we can classify them into:
- Algaecides Compounds that retard growth or prevent the appearance of algae.
- Antimicrobials Compounds that destroy germs and plant microbes, especially bacteria and viruses.
- Desiccants They cause the loss of water from certain plant tissues, thus drying up pests of plant origin.
- Defoliants They cause certain plant species to lose their leaves, thus preventing photosynthesis.
- Bombs against insects . Known in English as "foggers" because they are applied from airplanes or drones and create a kind of fog ( fog ) on the crop, these substances are intended to annihilate the insects with which they come into contact.
- Herbicides Substances that kill unwanted herbs or plant species that proliferate in crop areas, competing with agricultural species.
- Molluscicides Compounds that cause the drying of slugs and other mollusks.
- Insect growth regulators . Insecticides that inhibit certain steps in the insect reproductive circuit.
- Rodenticides Poisons against mice, rats and other similar rodents.
- Antifungal Products that prevent the appearance of fungi or eliminate them from fruits and plants.
- Repellents Pesticides that cover protected species and give them an unpleasant smell and taste that drives away common pests.
- Synergistic pesticides Pesticides ineffective in themselves, but that enhance and maximize the effectiveness of other pesticides.
There are few risks involved in the use of these types of products. Among them, we can list the following:
Deterioration of benign species . Due to their indiscriminate use over large areas, pesticides can cause the death of harmless or even benign species for cultivation, causing enormous ecological damage to the environment and sometimes even accidentally promoting the emergence of new pests due to the absence of predators natural
Permanent damage to the human organism . Traces of these products that can sometimes be found in food, in the water of rivers and lakes (or waters from contaminated underground deposits) or even inhaled directly from the air, can cause different types of damage to people . According to the damage caused, we can talk about:
- Carcinogens They cause different types of cancer and / or leukemia.
- Neurotoxics They cause direct damage to the brain or central nervous system.
- Teratogens . They cause deformations in fetuses and damage in growing babies, as well as damage to people's reproductive system.
- Suffocating They cause damage to the respiratory system and can induce asphyxiation or pulmonary insufficiency.
Contamination of food . Given its abundant use throughout different stages of the production chain, it is possible that foods intended for human or animal consumption contain traces of varying concentration of these toxic products.
Pesticides and pesticides
The terms pesticides and pesticides are synonymous in Spanish . The first comes from plague and the second from peste, which although they refer the first to an invasion of harmful organisms and the second to a contagious disease, are for agricultural effects totally the same.
Pesticides and fertilizers
Unlike pesticides, fertilizers are substances intended to improve or enhance the growth and production of agricultural plant species. They usually consist of additions to the soil or water that provide plants with extra nutrients to accelerate their growth, supply soil deficiencies or boost fruit production.
However, fertilizers are also substances, in many cases, of inorganic origin and capable of causing various damages . Its excessive use can destroy the plant you are trying to feed, causing the soil to harden too much for its roots or unbalancing its internal chemistry.
In addition, the excess of fertilizers is washed by rains or water and usually flows into rivers, lakes and seas, where it adds an unusual component to the availability of nutrients, generating abnormal growths of algae and Other plant species.
This can lead to ecological crises that lead to food or tourism crises, such as what happens with the sargassum in the Yucatan Peninsula, in Mexico.
Organic pesticides or biopesticides are those that are extracted from natural sources, such as other plants, or abundant minerals. That is to say that they do not come from a laboratory. They have a much smaller impact on the ecosystem, although they do not necessarily carry lower risks to human health, so they also require scrupulous management.
However, these types of pesticides usually have a more limited effect, slower acting and less problems of residual presence, so they are often not chosen instead of traditional pesticides.
In addition, instead of eradicating pest populations, they tend to keep them under control, within minimally acceptable parameters, that cause much less damage to the ecological balance. Logical of the species.
Some of these biopesticides can be of microbial origin, and sometimes they are simply predatory species of pests, which are responsible for keeping their growth at bay, without putting other benign species at risk.
Continue with: Causes of contamination