First, it is important to differentiate between a fertilizer and a pesticide. The first gives plants the
nutrients that aid in their growth, while the second destroys weeds and unwanted organisms. Although
chemical fertilizers can be potentially dangerous, pesticides pose the greatest concern.
There are six classes of pesticides:
- Herbicides, used to control weeds.
- Fungicides, which control diseases caused by fungi.
- Insecticides that kill pests.
- Rodenticides, which keep rodents away.
- Arboricides, used to kill diseased trees or shrubs.
- Molluscicides, that counter snails.1
Effects on Animals and the Environment
Pesticide use is increasingly controversial as a result of studies showing that these products have an
adverse impact on species such as bees, birds, butterflies, and fish.2
In addition, pesticides are transported along with the run-off from rainfall and can settle in rivers and
lakes, contaminating drinking water as well as various aquatic species.
Risks to Human Health
The French Institute of Health and Medical Research warns that pesticide exposure poses health risks
for humans. Its studies show that individuals exposed to pesticides are at greater risk of developing a
number of diseases, including Parkinson's disease, various types of leukemia, and hematopoietic
Two Notably Dangerous Pesticides
Chlorpyrifos, a particularly hazardous product, is used as an insecticide. Yet a study by the scientific
journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows the serious consequences of its use.
Among other findings, significant abnormalities were noticed on the brain development of some
children whose mothers had been exposed to the pesticide during pregnancy.
For its part, Atrazine, a herbicide widely used in Canada, is in the crosshairs of Équiterre, which is
asking the government to ban it. It is found in tap water that Quebecers consume daily. Exposure to this
pesticide is suspected to be linked to some stunted-growth conditions as well as premature births. It
How to Avoid Pesticides
Once you are familiar with all the risks associated with pesticide exposure, it is natural to want to avoid
them. Some people meticulously clean their fruits and vegetables before eating them, which is a good
habit to adopt.
However, this precaution will eliminate only those pesticides soluble in water, while many are not
water soluble or else are found inside the food.
The best way to minimize your ingestion of dangerous pesticides is to buy food from 100% organic
farming, free of pesticides and chemical fertilizers. They usually cost a little more, but the health
benefits are worth the added price.
This is one of the reasons that this site offers you information on food grown from natural agricultural
methods on farms located in Quebec.