Jen Grond/the Gauntlet

When carrots cry

The problem of pesticides in the EU

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It appears the crunch is on for carrot production in the United Kingdom. Recently reported on the BBC, the European Union's decision to ban over 20 pesticide ingredients has had a mixed response. To the farmers and pesticide companies, this is a kick straight to the nuts; they claim that it would cut carrot production by 100 per cent. But to the general population who come in contact with products treated with these pesticide ingredients every day, it seems like a damn good idea. The ingredients banned were carcinogenic, mutagenic or toxic to reproduction.

Although most farmers agree with the European Crop Protection Association, who stated that, "The banning criteria are of major concern to industry and the whole European food chain. European farmers have already lost 60 percent of the substances previously available in 1991." The risk doesn't need to be this bad. Yes, in 1991 they lost a percentage of their pest control substances, but they came back from it and found other pesticides to use. The same should happen this time around. Also, the risk to the general population from buying produce sprayed with a carcinogen is a little more important. If the people buying said food are getting sick from the food, then a reduction in that food's production doesn't seem like a terrible idea.

The EU rules will be a primarily hazard-based, instead of risk-based, advance-- they will be cautious and treat products whether they are suspected or proven carcinogens, or if there has been some observation of carcinogenic behaviour. This is also not a bad idea. It is better to be over-cautious than under-cautious.

Farmers warn the affected food's prices will increase two or threefold. One even tried to argue that low income families would not be able to purchase healthy fruits and vegetables at such prices. But said healthy fruits purchased at lower prices are just the opposite of healthy. "These are the substances that are most dangerous to human health, that cause cancer, that disrupt the body's internal systems- reproductive and otherwise," European Commission representative Antonia Mockin said. Produce, at any cost, which could have such ingredients on it from the pesticides, contain more health risks than health benefits.

So although crop sizes are at risk of falling, and prices are at risk of increasing, it is a win for the general EU population. There are many other ways of combating pest problems that do not utilize carcinogenic pesticides and instead of griping about this decision, individuals affected by it should be looking for other methods of pest control. If they did it in '91, they can do it again now.