Saturday, August 1, 2009

Pesticide Essay

After reading Cesar Chavez Warns of Pesticide Risks, 1993, I couldn’t help but think of Rachel Carson and the legacy she left us with. Carson had curiosity in the relationship between environmental contamination and the safety of the public’s health. Like Chavez, she saw the deliberate disregard for the publics health, and the failure to inform the public about these potentially lethal, and hidden poisonings on earth. Her legacy was for this information to be accessible and that the people be given a chance to protect themselves.

We will never be able to release our carcinogenic burden, unless our industry, government, and society take on awareness and prevention. Either public or private sectors of our society need to try to prevent harm before it happens. Carcinogenic substances should not have to be taken out of the environment, because the truth should have been known prior to consideration of use. We should not to have to find a dead body to recognize a problem. It should be up to the manufacturers to tell us if a product is potentially dangerous. It should not have to be the citizens fighting to prove it to the manufacturers.

Carson spoke of the least toxic alternative as way of prevention. This means that if there is a less toxic alternative to a certain substance, regardless of cost, it should be used. But, to our industries, it is just not good business to act within these principals. It costs more money to look into possible health risks and to try to prevent such substances from hitting the market. Therefore, we as consumers are all being taken for a ride. Somehow in the course of our societies quest for more stuff, we forgot that it is the manufactures responsibility to inform and protect us from such things, not ours. But, in a consumer obsessed society, when there is a chance to make a buck, the concern for the public’s health doesn’t really matter. I think it is the reluctance of dominant social actors to do anything is the problem. “The chemical companies that manufacturer the pesticides and the growers who use them want us to believe that they are the health givers because of pesticides people are not dying of malaria or starvation. They have the politicians and government regulators that pesticides are a cure all- the key to an abundance of food” (Reader, pg. 142).

Our government is painting the wrong picture. They are saying that the lives that are being stolen by environmentally caused cancer, is a small price to pay when they are able to stop starvation. Chavez wrote his warnings of pesticide use 10 years ago. I would like to see how much the United States pesticide use has decreased the amounts of malaria and starvation in the world. If the government is slow to take action on these issues, it is up to us as a society to take a stand. Being aware and encouraging others to be informed, is a small effort to take to solve a huge problem. “Once social change begins, it can not be reversed. You can not uneducate the person who has learned to read…You can not oppress the people who are not afraid anymore” (Reader pg 142). Therefore, it is in our own hands to make the change we wish to see in the world. We must search for our ecological roots as a way of protecting ourselves from contamination.

When something that may be lethal to people is an actual possibility, then everyone has right to be informed. Citizens should no longer allow themselves to be lied to. We should be getting the correct information about anything concerning our health. For example, many people are unaware of how the incineration of product can affect a large amount of people. With the way that winds blow, and the distance these chemical clouds can travel, people for miles around an incineration site can be affected. All of these people have a right to know about what is going on, but instead, will never know at all. Therefore, I see it as our responsibility to make sure people know.

Some ways to achieve awareness and protection may be to get the information about the types of pesticides that have been locally sprayed. We would have to learn about the sources of drinking water and it’s quality, or learn about the way the winds blow across our towns and if they come from an industrial area. Another safety measure may be finding out about how our houses are fumigated, and the quality of the livestock we eat. All of these measures may be what might save our lives. Unfortunately we also live in a society that likes things to be done for us. As a result, many people will ignore warnings or won’t take the necessary precautions that could be what protects them. It is obvious to me now that putting all my eggs in one basket is not going to work. I am not going to rely on our Capitalist society, that is all about profit, to protect me from these silent killers that are still around us each day.

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