People the world over are growing environmentally conscious as we wake up to the damage we are causing the earth. And among the list of deadly sins is the use and overuse of chemical pesticides, which harm crops, the human beings who consume them, animals who feed on them and other flora and fauna linked to them. In this way, synthetic pesticides adversely impact the entire food chain. This magnified impact is called bio-magnification.
This realisation and the need to minimise the adverse effects of synthetic pesticides led to an interest in organic pesticides many years ago. Organic pesticides are of natural origin and are made from living organisms such as bacterial, viruses or fungi and minerals.
organic pesticides made from virus
For instance, many organic pesticides made from virus, bacterial or fungal extracts designed to cause disease and kill the pests that infest crops while leaving the crop itself unaffected. Organic pesticides are thus highly specific and require a great deal of research and testing before they can be employed.
A word of caution here: The word ‘organic’ can be a double-edged sword. Assuming that‘organic’ and ‘natural’ are equal to ‘safe’ can be very misleading. Studies have shown that some organic pesticides can even be carcinogenic(see Foods that prevent Cancer) .
Apart from their composition, there’s the problem of potency. Farmers need to use a lot more of organic pesticides vis-a-vis chemical pesticides for them to be effective. This, obviously, poses a problem.
2010 research study by the University of Guleph
A 2010 research study by the University of Guleph found that a mineral, oil-based organic pesticide that suffocates aphids was harmful as it was required to be sprayed in large quantities so that the aphids could be smothered. The environmental impact was felt in terms of how much of the pesticide leeched into the soil, and its toxicity to birds and fish.
But here’s some great news. Controlling pests in and around your home and in your garden can be much cheaper and easier than you think. The list of organic pesticides you can concoct at home requires simple, daily-use ingredients such as liquid detergent, alcohol, different types of peppers and even garlic. And the concoctions are simple, if you know what to do. A simple Internet search will fill an entire organic pesticide ‘cookbook’ that will take care of all those creepy-crawlies that make you shriek every time you open the screen door!