Friday, February 15, 2019

A history of pesticides

by Jirakee jones (writer), , January 24, 2017

Pesticides and herbicides were even used during World War II by the U.S Military to prevent the spread of typhus in Europe and malaria in the Pacific to boot.

As far as pesticides are concerned, the first generation pesticides were extremely toxic such as arsenic and hydrogen cyanide as opposed to the ones used these days by pest and building inspections Melbourne experts. Pesticides and herbicides were even used during World War II by the U.S Military to prevent the spread of typhus in Europe and malaria in the Pacific to boot. After that, there was just no looking back whatsoever and by the middle stage of the 20th century around the post Second World War era, one could say that the term pesticides had entered the minds of most people back then with the introduction of the famous synthetic organic pesticide, namely DDT. Within no time at all by 1975, it seemingly replaced all the other pesticides and rose up to be the number one pesticide on the market.

The effectiveness of DDT:During the early years of its use, it was hailed as an absolute miracle invention for a number of reasons and continued to dominate the pesticide industry for a number of years after. The main reasons were : -

  • It covered a broad spectrum as far as toxicity towards insects was concerned, yet it was less toxic towards mammals as a whole.
  • It was insoluble in water, which meant that it wouldn’t get washed away by the rains.
  • Since it was hardy and persistent, it would rarely break down in the area it had been sprayed and hence, it didn’t need to be sprayed often.
  • It was cheap and relatively easy to apply as well.

The dark side of DDT:However, not all was hunky dory on the pesticides front. Rachel Carson’s famous novel Silent Spring illustrated how subtly destructive it was even to species other than the ones it was meant to target and destroy, thus introducing the term “indirect toxicity”. Basically it referred to 2 principles, being Bioconcentration (the tendency for a compound to accumulate in an organism's tissues) and Biomagnification (an increase in concentration up the food chain).

The shocking part was that it was even being found inside the bodies of seals and eskimos thousands of miles away from the pesticides point of origin suggesting that because of its ability to remain in the atmosphere for persistently long periods of time, it was able to travel across vast distances. This indeed made it clear that the proliferation of DDT had almost become alarmingly exponential regarding the overall food chain, nearly wiping out whole populations of predatory birds simply because the pesticide was so toxic to fish, which in turn happened to be the main diet of the predatory birds.

Post DDT phase:It was evident that the chemical industry would have to respond to the allegations and concerns over DDT. And they did by introducing newer varieties and classes of pesticides that were more soluble and not as persistent as DDT, not to mention more target specific concerning the invasive species of insects/pests. However the overall rate of effectiveness at which the newer breed of pesticides have managed to eradicate certain pest problems across the globe still remains to be seen, as this is a long term process where the results cannot be measured immediately.

Since the 70s, herbicides have also gained a lot of popularity even among the DDT sceptics as well. One of the reasons why a lot of people prefer them to pesticides is that they target invasive weeds and plants that harbour insect pests specifically which when taken care off, leaves the insect out of the picture as the insect is unable to survive or spread without the plant in question.

About the Writer

I am Jirakee jones from Australia. I am a blogger & content writer.
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