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Home | All About Organics? | Organic vs. Non-Organic | Organic vs. Conventional Farming | Pesticides | Genetically Modified Foods | Gregor Mendels Pea Experiment | Organics Quiz | Works Cited


Pesticides are the most used chemicals when it come to conventional farming. They are also the most dangerous to our health (Hewak, 2000). Specifically in Canada, pesticides used on crops have been linked to thousands of deaths (Harrison,1993). There are many ways that pesticides affect the human body. Pesticides in food have been linking to causing many cancerous diseases among humans. Some kinds of pesticides are Organophosphate Pesticides, Carbamate Pesticides, Organochlorine Insecticides (DDT, Chlordan), and Pyrethroid Pesticides (2006, Types of Pesticides). All these pesticides have serious effects on our health, specifically our nervous systems.

Due to the introduction of farming organically, the use of pesticides has dropped significantly, but not enough to fully remove it from our foods and our immune system. Pesticide use is declining do to safer and conventional ways of eliminating pests (Hewak, 2000). As of right now and for a number of years the government has been implicating safe pesticides standards. Originally, there were no restrictions as to what chemicals farmers could spray on their crops ( Harrison, 1993). Now, because of growing research on the effects of chemicals on crops, there are restrictions ( Harrison, 1993). These standards include reducing quantity and types of chemicals that farmers are allowed to use on their crops (Martin).

Below are the different cycles in growing foods, the organic method and the chemical method.

Organic Method of Growing Food( Harrison, 1993)

Birth ⇒ Growth ⇒ Maturity ⇒ Decay ⇒ Reproduction ⇒ Death

Chemical Method of Growing Food( Harrison, 1993)

Birth ⇒ Growth ⇒ Maturity ⇒ Reproduction ⇒ Death


There are three major chemicals that are used in conventional farming. These chemicals are DDT (Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane), Mercury, and Chlordane and are just a few of the chemicals that can be found in our foods if they are not produced organically. Well now go into detail about what all these chemicals are and how they have and are affecting us.

DDT Molecule (click on this picture to go to an interactive DDT Molecule)

DDT (Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane): DDT is an organic insecticide and was originally beneficial in stopping the spread of malaria ( Harrison, 1993). DTT was also originally cheap to buy and was said to be low in harmful toxins (Harrison, 2005). In the 1940's we began to see problems with the chemical DDT, the life saving insecticide. A number of organisms that were previously killed by DDT are now becoming resistant. As DDT was being placed on crops, it was being ingested into animals’ immune system (Harrison, 2005). DDT is a very hard chemical to digest and therefore instead of being taken out of the body, it was stored in fatty tissues. Also the placing of DDT on crops lead to runoff during rainy periods which also infected organisms living in rivers and lakes. Due to all of this new research on DDT, it was then banned in many countries (Harrison, 2005).

Mercury : was sprayed on crops during conventional farming. Mercury had a damaging effect on water organisms. Many people who consume fish or shellfish are at risk of getting infected with mercury (Hewak, 2000). The consumption of mercury can have serious effects on ones nervous system, digestive tract, and kidneys. In the unborn it can cause mutations in their thinking, memory, and fine motor skills (2006, Effects of other mercury compounds (inorganic and organic)). Mercury was another chemical pesticide that was banned from use on crops (Hewak, 2000).

Chlordane : even though this chemical has been banned it is still seriously affecting people. Chlordane is an insecticide that was originally sprayed on crops like corn and citrus fruits. It is the leading cause of cancer in humans and can be taking in through ingestion, inhalation, and absorption (2006, Chlordane). This chemical pesticide was banded in 1983 after scientists and doctors realized just how hazardous this product was (2006, Chlordane).

The previous chemical pesticides mentioned are only a few of the many chemicals that were present on our foods that were conventionally grown. There are many diseases that pesticides cause. These diseases and symptoms include:
→Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
→Neurological effects
→Immunotoxicity (Martin)