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Pesticides And Human Health In California

3659 words - 15 pages

Agriculture is the most fundamental resource of society. Without it, humans could not live, especially in the ways we do now where people reside in cities. This means that those cities could not exist without large scale agriculture to sustain them. Since agriculture is such a necessity, people have developed methods to gain more from their land. One of the many solutions besides machinery they have developed to produce higher crop yields is through the use of pesticides. However, those pesticides which have resulted in high crop yields have come at price, and that is human health itself. This seems rather contradictory. Pesticides were designed to help people and society by increased the success of producing high crop yields, and they still do that, but at the same time, those same pesticides have caused unforeseen health risks, primarily to those have had to handle them. The average person would not consider pesticides as being a cause for depression, or in worst case scenario, suicide, but studies have found significant links. Even though California is just one place in the world, it has large agricultural areas which were, and still are, represented in many scientific studies that have found those unforeseen risks from pesticide use. Since pesticides are poisons, producers and safety activities urge several safety precautions to attempt to reduce the effect on human users. However, these precautions sometimes do not prevent long term damages in the people that live and work in such close proximity, which are the agricultural workers. Since the risk are known, policies have been put into place, but despite that, the use of pesticides remains high. Like many of the anthropological readings from this course, there are also added social and economic reasons as to why there are health problem among agriculture workers in California caused by pesticides. Some of them might be surprising, others not as much due to reoccurring themes in the economy.
To understand pesticides, we must look at the facts about them. According to the EPA, pesticides are chemicals specifically designed and sold to prevent, destroy, or repel pests from garden, greenhouses, fields, and orchards (Learn About Chemicals Around Your House). Charlotte Gerber’s article, How Do Pesticides Kill Bugs, explained that pesticides targets insects and kills them by attacking the nervous system and then when the muscles are over-stimulated, this will lead to paralysis and death. The effect of the organophosphates that cause that in pesticides was discovered in the 1930's during World War II. They were used in the creation of nerve gas, which was used in chemical warfare. When used in lethal dosages for humans, organophosphates cause extreme excitability, convulsions, paralysis and in most cases, death (Gerber). According to Effects of Pesticides on Human Health, The World Health Organization estimates that there are 3 million cases of pesticide poisoning each year and up to 220,000...

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