While pesticides have been very effective in controlling pests, a Government official believes that there are safer methods which can be used to assist in this regard.
Director of the National Council for Science and Technology (NCST), Lennox Chandler, made this assertion while addressing students at the recently concluded school’s science lecture and debating competition. The event took place at the Tom Adams Financial Centre.
He said the use of pesticides worldwide, over the years, had resulted in a number of ‘unforseen’ problems. Mr. Chandler said that farmers had abandoned traditional pest control methods and had adopted the widespread use of pesticides in their cultivation activities because of their effectiveness in controlling pests, low cost and easy availability.
He said: “Pesticides are poisons … they are designed to kill or otherwise adversely affect living organisms. Pesticides, therefore, can cause harm to humans, animals or the environment,” Mr. Chandler surmised.
The NCST head said despite the obvious danger to pesticide exposure, he said they were useful in destroying potential disease-causing organisms, controlling insects, weeds and other pests.
In highlighting the hazards of pesticides, Mr. Chandler stated that pregnant women, who unknowingly eat fruits, vegetables and meat that had been sprayed or treated with pesticides, growth hormones or antibiotics, could pass on these chemicals when breast feeding their babies.
Noting that some pesticides were carcinogenic, he said that over time, the contaminants, stored in the fatty deposits in the human body, could be detrimental to one’s health.
Instead of using pesticides, Mr. Chandler preferred biological, physical, cultural and integrated pest management controls as alternatives.
He suggested hand picking of insects; picking of insect eggs; the removal of infested/infected material; inter-row cultivation and bat proofing of buildings as viable physical controls to pesticides.
In addition to these methods, he also advised farmers to implement tilling strategies, such as crop rotation to reduce the build up of certain types of pests; planting hedges as borders to curtail insect breeding and inter cropping to decrease the infestation of some pests.