Farmers have been plagued with insects since the dawn of agriculture. From the beginning, farmers used natural means to combat the insects, but with the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, they have turned to chemical pesticides and bacteriological methods of controlling insects. I remember, as a youngster, going with my father to our mountain land to combat grasshoppers. My dad used a rotary spreader to spread a powdered pesticide over the fields (I don't remember, but the poison was probably DDT). The fields were large, and we needed a couple of days to complete the job. A few days after we returned home, my dad came down with the "flu". Our family doctor came to our home and gave my father something for his illness. My dad did recover, but I wondered at the time, and since then, whether he was sick from the flu or from the pesticide he spread on his land. He had been covered with dust from the spreader.

Scientists are trying to find pesticides that are less toxic to humans but are still effective in controlling insects. They are also trying to find natural methods that will reduce the populations of insects. Here are some of the results of their research into understanding the problems and developing newer pesticides.
Pesticides commonly used in California's Central Valley, one of the world's most productive agricultural regions, have been found in remote frog species miles from farmland. Writing in Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, researchers demonstrate the contamination of Pacific Tree Fogs in remote mountain areas, including national parks; supporting past research on the potential transport of pesticides by the elements.
They found pesticides in all of the homes, along with indications -- such as sighting of live pests or pest debris -- that traditional pesticides were not effective. "The results from the current study, as well as other recent studies, conducted in low-income public housing, child care centers and randomly selected homes in the U.S. should accentuate the need for alternative pest management programs," the report states. IPM focuses on eliminating the cause of pest infestations by minimizing access to food, water, hiding places, and sealing cracks and other openings in walls to prevent entry of pests.
Now, UCLA researchers have discovered a link between Parkinson's and another pesticide, benomyl, whose toxicological effects still linger some 10 years after the chemical was banned by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
A common herbicide used in the United States may be linked to an increased risk of a congenital abnormality of the nasal cavity known as choanal atresia, say researchers at Baylor College of Medicine and other Texas institutions.
Two of the pesticides found in high concentrations in the placentas of affected newborns and stillborn fetuses were endosulfan and lindane. Endosulfan is only now being phased out in the United States for treatment of cotton, potatoes, tomatoes and apples. Lindane was only recently banned in the United States for treatment of barley, corn, oats, rye, sorghum and wheat seeds.
University of Granada researchers have shown that infants born to women living in large cities are more likely to have higher weight at birth than those born to mothers living in rural areas. This is probably due to a higher exposure to xenoestrogens, a type of environmental pollutants that act like hormones, according to researchers. This is the first research study conducted in Spain establishing a correlation between estrogenic burden in pregnant women’s placenta and a higher birth weight.

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