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Time for Change Most pesticides are manufactured compounds that are designed to kill specific pests such as weeds and insects Many pesticides have the potential to harm non-target organisms especially if the organisms are exposed to high levels or for a long period of time In the early 1960s Rachel Carsons widely publicized book Silent Spring described the ecological impacts of DDT and other pesticides Concerns about the unintended effects of pesticides continue to this day and evaluation of the risk to humans and the environment from present-day levels of pesticide exposure remains highly controversial Since the beginning of farming pests including insects plant pathogens and weeds have been problems for farmers Presently despite all the control efforts used pests annually destroy about 40 to 50 percent of all crops worldwide Encyclopedia Britannica 15th Addition Volume 19 With so many areas of the world facing famine researchers are attempting to reduce this loss by improving pest control Even though this is a great concern we humans must remember the dangers involving the use of pesticides and herbicides These chemicals contain toxic materials that pose both environmental and human health risks Humans animals aquatic organisms and plants can be severely threatened by pesticides and herbicides The effectiveness of a pesticide as well as the hazards depends largely on how long the pesticide remains in the soil For example DDT a chlorinated hydrocarbon has a half-life of three years in cultivated soils while organophosphorus insecticides persist for only days or months Chlorinated hydrocarbons persist longer in soils having a large amount of organic matter although more of the chemical must be applied to these soils to kill pests Insecticides persist longer if worked into the soil than if left on the surface Herbicides applied to soils may not persist at all or may persist up to two years or longer depending on the compound Simiazine is one of the most persistent herbicides Eventually all pesticides disappear
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