How big a problem is misuse of pesticides?

post by Ninjaredkubo · 2019-09-16T19:47:21.365Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW · 2 comments

This is a question post.

Answers

2 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by Ninjaredkubo · 2019-09-17T15:22:15.863Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Sorry for the lack of detail. First post and trying to figure out forum.

How big a problem is misuse of pesticides by laborers and farmers?

I am currently working on a project in India trying to get laborers and farmers to use pesticides correctly by using behavioral science. Here are some of the consequences that we are looking at from misuse.

Health

- Users do not wear gear, or even smoke and eat while spraying, and regularly inhale pesticide and get it all over their skin. This can cause “headaches, nausea, eye irritation, skin rashes, and flu-like symptoms. Long term chronic health problems include neurological and reproductive disorders and various forms of cancer”

- Users often do not shower, and so come home to their family covered in pesticide, affecting the health of their family as well (especially bad for pregnant women)

- Users will sometimes use pesticide containers to store food and water. This can be disastrous.

- Users will spray near rivers, or discard of pesticide containers in fields or near rivers which can cause health issues for the surrounding communities

- Agriculture is the industry with the most child labor, and children are more affected than adults. Thus the effects are longer lasting and more severe than an initial analysis might indicate

- Pests develop resistance due to misuse, meaning stronger chemicals must be used, thus exasperating the issues above.

Environment and wildlife

- Pesticides in the ecosystem may be hurting fish and other wildlife

- Misuse of pesticides leads to bugs getting sprayed and dying slowly, or getting close to death and then recovering, developing resistance. (Relevant if you care about the welfare of such pests)

- Increased productivity of fields would mean less land would be needed to produce the same amount of food.

- Pests develop resistance due to misuse, meaning stronger chemicals must be used, thus exasperating the issues above.

Money

- Misuse of pesticides leads to lower yields of crops which means lower revenue for the farmers

- Lower revenue depresses the economy, puts laborers out of work, and means the farmer is less likely to buy protective gear in the future or take other precautions.

- And not all money is equal “growth of 1% in GDP from the agricultural sector, results in an increase of expenditures of the three poorest deciles, by at least 2.5 times that of the rest of the economy.” (http://www.expo2015.org/magazine/en/economy/agriculture-remains-central-to-the-world-economy.html)

- Pests develop resistance due to misuse, meaning stronger chemicals must be used, thus exasperating the issues above.

Food

- Misuse of pesticides leads to lower yields of crops meaning that food prices go up and there is less food for everyone.

- Pests develop resistance due to misuse, meaning stronger chemicals must be used, thus exasperating the issue above.

The paper ‘Pesticide Risk Perceptions, Knowledge, and Attitudes of Operators, Workers, and Residents: A Review of the Literature’ by Kyriaki Remoundou, Mary Brennan, Andy Hart & Lynn J. Frewer is a good resource for getting an idea of the types of problems and misuse that are occurring, and some of the complications surrounding it. But I don’t know anyone who has done work at trying to quantify how big a problem it actually is. I suspect that the number of people who have suffered ill health effects from misuse of pesticides is extremely high, but it is not my domain of expertise and so I am unfamiliar with the research.

comment by aarongertler · 2019-09-16T21:07:45.829Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

I think you'll get more answers to this question if you give a bit more information at the start. Some points that would be helpful:

  • What are some problems that might result from the misuse of pesticides?
  • Have you read any articles/books about the problem that you could link to?

In general, it's easier for people to respond to ideas/arguments than to come up with opinions from scratch. I may not have a good estimate for "scale of the pesticide issue," but if someone tells me they think pesticides cause X deaths per year because of reasons Y and Z, I can evaluate those claims to see how closely I agree with that person's estimate.