Organic Pesticides vs. Synthetic Pesticides

With rising concerns about the impact of pesticides on the environment and how they affect health, there is an increased interest in the use of organic pesticides. For those who have used synthetic pesticides for years, does there continue to be value in this method of pest control?

What are Organic Pesticides

As long as humans have cultivated agriculture, organic pesticides have been in use. Today’s ecologically friendly pesticides are created from plant, animal, or mineral materials and are effective and safe. Other natural or non-toxica and household substances such as liquid dish soap, alcohol and egg shells may also be used to repel unwanted garden visitors.

TIP: Our expert Gardening advisor, Susan Patterson adds, "Companion planting is also used as a form of natural pest control."

The primary approach to organic and eco-friendly pest control is to improve the health of the plant and build up the soil, without negatively impacting the environment or animals or people. Although organic pesticides may not appear to work as rapidly as synthetic pesticide products, patience and consistently pay off once plants are healthy and soil is nutrient rich.

TIP: Susan advises, "Healthy plants are much less susceptible to damage from insects."

What are Synthetic Pesticides

Synthetic pesticides are toxic chemicals that are made to repel, prevent and kill pests. While synthetic pesticides may do the job of killing pests, they also cause considerable harm to other, beneficial living organisms and create a serious health and environmental risk. Those that use synthetic pesticides, including big agribusinesses argue that chemical pesticides are a necessity to protect large crops. However, the short term benefits of synthetic pesticides are not nearly as great as the long term damage that results when they are used. Studies indicate that a wide range of health problems are closely related to the widespread use of toxic chemicals on crops. These problems include, birth defects, hormonal problems and nervous system damage. Synthetic pesticides find their way into water supplies and also drain nutrients from the soil.

Certainly, if you are planning on using synthetic pesticides in your own garden or around your home, there are some basic safety precautions to be used.
  • Do not spray these chemical compounds unless you absolutely need to, and only apply them to the intended plants for the intended insect infestations.
  • Do not spray on windy or breezy days. Not only will this prevent back-spray onto yourself, but also will prevent the chemicals from being spread unintentionally to places you do not want.
  • Do not store chemical pesticides where they can be found by children. Even with precautions, synthetic pesticides are dangerous and can be deadly.

TIP: Susan cautions you, "If synthetic pesticides are used, be sure to wash all produce thoroughly."

For those who have an interest in finding out more about organic pesticide use, there are many simple recipes available online and even entire books devoted to the use of ecologically friendly gardening.