Why Do We Use Poisons?

Q: Why do we have to use so many poisons on our lawns, gardens, and landscapes? Why not use organic things to kill pests?

A: As with most things in life, I think it comes down to personal choice and weighing the pro’s and con’s of a situation.

I support reducing the use of poisons in the environment…but I realize that poisons have made life better for millions of people. Mosquito nets kill malaria-carrying mosquitoes…and few people object to the benefits they give to tropical dwellers.

Many poisons must be weighed as to their risk and benefit. Gasoline contains benzene, which is carcinogenic…but we drive our cars despite the risk because of the benefit of efficient transportation.

Organic pesticides can be more deadly than synthetic ones. Nicotine sulfate (from tobacco) was a common garden poison when I was a kid…and it accidentally killed dozens of people each year.

Using organic pesticides is a laudable goal…but organic pesticides are not always as fast or as effective as synthetic materials.

Poisons and pesticides have been with us for millennia. I found the following paper to be quite interesting.

Pesticide Development – A Brief Look at the History