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November 28th, 2019 / Genetic Literacy Project, US

Pesticides tend to receive little else but bad press — bees are slain, lawsuits are filed, and proponents of everything from ‘raw water’ to ‘clean food’ cite the benefits of all that is ‘natural’.

Yet pesticides are vital to human health, nutrition, and global food security. Simply put, we cannot live without them.

When we hear the word pesticide, we might think of neonicotinoid-based insecticides linked with the demise of bees in Europe. Or we might remember the days of DDT and the unintended effects of the widespread use of this harmful and toxic environmental pollutant. We may look to the vilification of companies such as Monsanto, as they seek to defend glyphosate from a litany of questionable accusations regarding human health.

Not so obvious, perhaps, are the pesticides that we take for granted. The chlorine and fluoride in tap water that render it safe to drink (and even protect our dental health) by removing the bacteria and parasites that cause awful and often fatal diarrhea and dysentery, such as cholera and giardia. What about the antimicrobial food preservatives — with names like potassium sorbate and sodium benzoate — that allow us to safely eat food long after it has been prepared and stored for months or even years, greatly reducing food waste? Read more …