Agrotoxic or pesticides?

I confess that I reflected for some time, before I decided to write this text. The fear of displeasing many readers crossed my mind. In a quick tour of the web, I easily noticed that the old, false-polemical mold continues, even after almost four decades of passionate discussions.

However, since I’ve decided to write, I promise that I won’t be on the fence! In return, I don’t ask you to agree with me, dear reader, no. I only ask that, if possible, disarm your spirit for a moment. Stay chill, because we are going to rise a little, get off the ground of this discussion. Come on, from above, as if we were flying in a balloon, then look down. I hope that, at the very least, we will have an interesting trip.

Let’s see everything very smal down there. Factories, houses, people and their personal, corporate interests, their paradigms. While the balloon is flying very slowly, from above everything seems so small, so insignificant… However, as we contemplate the sky above us, we realize the immensity of the universe to which we human beings, on board our small planet, are guests.

This view tends to lead us, unintentionally, to intimate questions, in fact very old in our society. They are part of us, since, as humans, we started to think, to use reasoning and intuition, instead of just our instinct. They are of the type:

What is the meaning of life? What are we doing here? What is our role in this crazy world?

Calm down! This will not become a philosophy class! These questions arise naturally, whenever we manage to get out of the “ground of our worries” and fly a little higher, in our thinking. When we are able to free our mind, even for a moment, from daily tasks, it usually goes a long way behind these answers.

Well then; up here, in our balloon, what does this discussion mean? This discussion has been going on for decades, should whether we call those products agrotoxic or pesticides. Nothing!!! From up here, I want to know other things. For example:

After all, do these products, which we use in crops, contaminate the environment? Are they bad for our health or not?

Yes, the vast majority of them harm us and contaminate the environment. The intensity of this depends, in addition to the chemical nature of each, the doses and the frequency with which they are used, in addition to the grace period, which is the time interval between the last application and the harvest.

So why do food producers use them?

In some cases, why is there no other way, for now. In others, because they are poorly guided by technicians, by manufacturers, by the government, by universities. In some cases, the producer is literally pressured to use; do “terrorism” in their heads.

And … Why are producers misguided?

Because all agribusiness is contaminated by the need for manufacturers to sell their products. Just as medicine is contaminated by the need for laboratories to sell their medicines. Just as television is contaminated by the need to sell space to its advertisers. It is not just the producers, the whole society, researchers, teachers, students, consultants, are contaminated! It is almost inevitable!

Is there a way out of this issue? Can we produce food without pesticides on a large scale?

In some cases, yes, in others not yet. Research needs sponsorship, money, to move forward. Who will invest in Agroecology, for example? The direction of the research is ultimately dictated by its sponsors. In Brazil, who is more interested in this issue? The government or the powerful multinational manufacturers? Then we fall into another problem…

That of the seriousness of governments! I don’t even want to start this discussion here, because that would make this text a very thick book!

At this point, I would like to end this brief chat sayng:

  1. It’s not producers fault; they do the best they can, and they work hard, I witness it;
  2. The extreme of hypocrisy is not recognizing hypocrisy itself. This is the case for our society as a whole, including governments;
  3. There are many well-meaning people working for input manufacturers. However, the logic of the capitalist system is the same. Sell, sell and sell! As bad as it is, it is still much better than the other models that have already been tested and failed, such as communism, for example;
  4. Only the individual evolution of consciences can lead us to a rapid evolution, as a society. So, with less hypocrisy, less petty interests and less ignorance, then we can change the current situation.

Therefore, given this perspective, I am in favor of using the term AGROTOXIC. Thus, although we still need, in several cases, its use, we will always remember that we are dealing with potentially dangerous substances, many of which are difficult to eliminate by the soil, water and our own organism.

After all, worldwide, these substances are known as “pesticides”. In our legislation, they have always been, and continue to be called “pesticides”. So, if you want to call them “defensive”, say it!

The important thing is to know that the producer uses it because he needs it, and we eat because there is no other way (except in some cases). But…. Neither producers like to use it, nor do we like to eat. Tell me, what’s wrong with admitting it?

From an agronomic point of view, it is important to know that, even with all the ignorance and hypocrisy, we are moving, in large paces, towards the non-dependence of pesticides. This means decontaminating soils, rivers, food, people. It’s great news! Or not?

Don’t worry about the manufacturers! They will quickly change their production lines. They will make organic products, or whatever we are willing to buy.

Antonio N. S. Teixeira
Executive Director – IBA

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