One of the significant challenges we face is dealing with biological pests. In the United States, the accepted pest control method is using chemicals to kill anything that affects crop growing, spreads diseases, or just annoys us. We use weed and vegetation killers, insect sprays, chemical treatments for trees, and chemicals for the soil to make our lives more comfortable and increase the food supply. Unfortunately, the problems caused by the careless use of chemicals to control pests become more evident as we see the collateral damage and the cost of chemical production and distribution.
The current battle over the potential cancer-causing effect of Roundup reminds us of the health damage Agent Orange caused for military personnel in Vietnam. On a personal note, my younger brother died from the effects of Agent Orange that he was exposed to during his military service. We need to realize that God has given us tools to control negative environmental influences without the careless use of chemicals.
Studies show that the collateral damage from air pollution and ground-level ozone includes increased heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and dementia. Even aggression among animals and humans increases when pollution levels rise. For example, a study of 70,000 U.S. cases showed more people were bitten by dogs on smoggy days.
American foulbrood is a bacterial disease that has wiped out many broods of honey bees and is apparently catalyzed by pesticides used on crops that bees pollinate. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved an oral honeybee vaccine against the disease. But, again, this is an example of collateral damage from the careless use of chemicals to control pests.
Natural pest control avoids collateral damage. For example, vineyard owners near Cape Town, South Africa, use a group of domesticated Indian runner ducks to eat the snails and bugs that infect their vines. In addition to eating the pests, the ducks leave natural fertilizer to nourish the vines.
People use bats to eat insect pests in various places worldwide. Locust swarms are not an issue where bat populations are large. Insecticides can cause the death of songbirds, and as the bird populations decline, insect swarms increase, creating more problems. Even removing fish and frog populations harms pest control, as fish and frogs eat many insects and their larvae.
God has built pest controls into our planet, but humans often upset the balance. Restoring natural controls is within our reach, but people often believe the careless use of chemicals to control pests is easier and more profitable. Unfortunately, ignoring God’s design leads to health problems linked to the chemicals we dump on our land and into our rivers, lakes, and oceans.
— John N. Clayton © 2023
References: “What pollution does to you” in the March 25, 2023, issue of Science News, “The list of diseases linked to air pollution is growing” in Science News, September 2017, and Solutions, a publication of the Environmental Defense Fund.