Although pesticides have dramatically increased crop yields over the years (by killing off weeds, rodents, insects and fungus), they unfortunately do not come without negative health and environmental effects. In response, governments around the world set stringent regulatory limits on the types and amounts of pesticides allowable and, in general, these limits are more restrictive than is scientifically recommended simply because it is better to be safe than sorry.
Despite these limits however, there is reason to believe that there are subtle health and environmental effects with prolonged exposure to low doses such that even the most restrictive limits cannot prevent them. Moreover, some farmers do not comply with regulations and have founds ways to avoid getting caught. This has shown to be true in Mauritius. An article written in L’Express in 2018 mentioned that 20% of all fruit and vegetable samples analysed exceeded the maximum residue level set by the EU Commission. The misuse and abuse of pesticides is clearly real. It is also important to note that Mauritian soil is still recovering from past misuse and abuse of pesticides.
The ideal pesticide targets only the desired pest in the desired area. However, this is not always the case. Pesticides has been shown to kill birds, fish, amphibians and honey bees. Over 95% of all pesticides reaches an area other than the desired area, carried away by water and wind. What makes matters worse is that some pests develop resistance to the pesticide. These unintended consequences deeply impact the surrounding environment. The negative health effects of pesticides on humans is also well studied, and these include cancer, birth defects, neurological problems, etc.
To summarize, we know that high levels of pesticide exposure is bad for both the environment and human health. Government has therefore set strict regulatory limits, more than is required. However, the effects of prolonged exposure to low doses needs further study and we know some farmers in Mauritius misuse and abuse pesticides above legal limits. So now that you are aware of what’s going on, are you willing to take the risk?