Hold the Pesticides, Please
Farmers have the difficult task of protecting their crops and land from damage by insects, weeds and other pests. While many farmers feel compelled to use pesticides, some evidence shows that more natural alternatives can be just as effective as the use of dangerous chemicals.
Many industrial-sized farms use pesticides to increase crop yields by eliminating certain pests, but these chemicals can also harm other plants, fish, birds, insects, animals and even humans. Studies have found connections between certain pesticides and cancer, endocrine diseases, developmental delays and birth defects.
The dependence of large-scale farming on pesticides is a relatively recent phenomenon. For most of human history, farming relied on natural approaches to reduce pests while ensuring abundant harvests.
Many Maryland families are concerned about the dangers of pesticides, and are increasingly looking for more natural choices to bring home to their dinner tables. Fortunately, visionary farmers are reconnecting with more natural practices that keep our food safe and protect our land and waterways from harmful chemicals.
That change cannot come soon enough. Several important studies, including one by the federal government, have detected contamination of toxic pesticides in Chesapeake Bay waters and tributaries. Pesticides have also been shown in numerous studies to be harmful to pollinators such as bees and butterflies, which are responsible for much of the food we eat. In fact, Maryland’s beekeepers worry that honeybee populations could be gone from the area in five years – a devastating outcome for our region’s farmers.
Right now, there is not even a requirement for Maryland farmers to submit information about pesticide use. Our current lack of information about pesticide usage results in dangerous data gaps. Environmental scientists and public health professionals need to know what, when and where pesticides are being used in order to identify potential impacts on fish, wildlife, the ecosystem and public health.
To keep our food safe, to keep our farms healthy and to keep our pollinators alive, we must reduce, limit or eliminate the mass use of dangerous pesticides on our farms.
Fair Farms envisions a system that supports farmers who transition to more holistic methods of food production without reliance on pesticides.