The use of pesticides in agriculture

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A few years ago, I discussed this problem with my stepfather. He was adamant, as you would expect from somebody who has spent the majority of his adult life working for the German company Bayer. Bayer is now styling itself as a “Life Sciences company with core competencies in healthcare and agriculture”. Just have a quick look at their broad spectrum of products

“You cannot feed the world’s present population without pesticides!” my stepfather said.

Really?

In my mind, I was brought back to my childhood in Indonesia in the late 1980’s where my primary school teacher took us to a huge plantation just south of the capital Jakarta. She was also a biology teacher and consequently spell-bound as she learned about the management of the place, as one of the farm workers explained how they controlled pests by a method of planting crops which we would now refer to as “companion planting“, “agroecology” or “sustainable agriculture” which is now researched and looked into by Wageningen University in the Netherlands. The idea was to avoid bugs to feast on a plant by planting another next to it which would make the little crawly thing feel very sick and turn up its trunk (they do have them) or be chattering its little mandibles in disgust and, therefore, keep him and the rest of the swarm away from where we didn’t want him to go. As you can see, this seems to be an idea humans used to be familiar with and employed consistently since time immemorial.

The recent UN report on this is bound to make you a little bit more hopeful, however, while not only opening your eyes to the disastrous effects not just on all those little creepy-crawlies which have done us great service for millennia but also ourselves. Another very disconcerting thing is the fact how deliberately misleading all of it is. Short-term profit matters, so why should anybody care? Well, the thing is, we do!

Little things we can do are for example:

  • Supporting organisations like Buglife

 

  • Seeking out organic produce and being aware of what we eat and where it comes from or maybe even considering growing some of it ourselves (I know this is not for everyone and don’t beat yourself up about it).

 

  • Making your garden as bug friendly as possible and being aware of what kind of pest controls you use or if you don’t have a garden look for plants you can grow on your balcony. Look for more tips here.

 

 

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