Does it sound great to have a world without pesticides?
Our answer to this question likely depends on what you know about pesticides.
Generally, a pesticide is a substance that deters or kills an organism that is harming human health, agriculture, the environment, or the economy.
This could be a synthetic chemical purchased at the store or a simple mixture of soap and oil DIY style (which may still be a Pesticide)
While it may sound nice to have “A World Without Pesticides”, this could actually result in increases in mosquito vectored disease, reduced crop protection, and harm to the environment from invasive species.
This is because pesticides are an integral part of the way we manage pests given the tools we have at our disposal. However, we are at risk of losing some of our pesticide tools. Why might we lose these options? The answer is pesticide resistance.
Considering pesticides have been used since 2500 BC we are unlikely to lose these options completely.
What we really need to pay attention to is, what happens if we lose the option to effectively use synthetic pesticides for large-scale pest control?
This is a reality as we are seeing more and more cases of pesticide resistance.
Pesticide resistance occurs when a population of a pest becomes less susceptible to a pesticide to the extent that the pesticide can no longer provide control. In other words, the chemical doesn’t kill enough of the pest anymore and it continues to cause problems
To explain pesticide resistance, I’ll first define two phrases. The first is Active Ingredients. These are the ingredients in a pesticide product that kill the pest (Ex: Deltamethrin, Cypermethrin, Imidacloprid).
The second is the Mode of Action (MoA). This is the physiological disruption at the target site caused by the pesticide. More simply, it’s how the pesticide kills the pest (Ex: Sodium Channel Modulators, Acetylcholinesterase (ACHE) Inhibitors, Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptor (NACHR) Competitive Modulators).
Insects can avoid the disruption by naturally occurring genetic variation that allows them to alter the target site, or by reducing binding to the target site. Insecticide resistance occurs when products with the same MoA are used over and over again.
A world without pesticides might mean a world without pest management. So be sure to protect these tools, so we can attack our pests rather than them attacking us!