In an ideal world, humans could grow enough food to feed the world without synthetic pesticides, but that is not the world we live in. Readily arable land is limited and all sorts of fauna and flora pests incessantly assault agriculture. At this time, pesticides are necessary tools to stave off our species’ starvation, writes Ross Pomeroy of RealClear Science.
Pomeroy writes that despite pesticides’ obvious utility, humans are generally afraid of consuming these mostly unseen chemicals. That’s understandable, as various organizations have labeled them “toxins” or “carcinogens” and have even published lists of fruits and vegetables that contain the most synthetic pesticides, apparently so you can avoid eating them.
Rest assured, synthetic pesticide residues on food are safe in the minuscule amounts present – we’re talking parts per billion, Pmeroy writes. What’s more, many are even less “toxic” than substances you encounter each and ever day.
For example, glyphosate, the most commonly used herbicide in the U.S., is about three times less deadly than Tylenol and thirty times less deadly than caffeine.
To showcase further how misplaced our fear of synthetic pesticides is, we can perform another, oft-ignored comparison: pitting synthetic pesticides on fruits and vegetables against the “natural” pesticides that they produce in far greater quantities themselves.
Yes, fruits and vegetables have evolved thousands of built-in pesticides, many of which aren’t so chemically dissimilar than the ones humans have created in labs.
And guess what? We eat 10,000 times more of these pesticides than we do of the synthetic pesticides we’ve been conditioned to fear, Ross Pomeroy writes.