Essay Title

A World of Fewer Green Tales and Less Pesticides

Globally, approximately 2.7 million tons of pesticides were reportedly applied to agricultural land in 2020 (Pesticides Use, Pesticides Trade and Pesticides Indicators, 2022). Pesticides were designed to prevent yield losses; however, not only have they been given rise to new environmental issues, but also backfired on humans, significantly impeding progress towards achieving The 2023 Agenda’s socio-environmental goals, such as SDG 2 Targets, including combating desertification (15.3), conserving oceans (14.1), and strengthening resilience to climate hazards (13.1). By bridging the gap between bold pledges of enterprises and concrete, measurable actions, we can rebuild a harmonious relationship with nature and strive towards a sustainable future with less climate hypocrisy and less pesticides.

 

Similar to the resistance seen in antibiotics, excessive pesticide use kills soil microorganisms that break down nutrients for plant growth and destroy habitats of natural enemies against pests, posing threats to achieving Target 15.3. Furthermore, 730 tonnes of pesticides enter rivers each year, with approximately 13,000 kilometers of rivers showing chemical concentrations above safety limits for aquatic plants and invertebrates (Maggi, F., Tang, F. H. M., & Tubiello, F. N, 2023). These environmental impacts have significantly set back progress towards Target 14.1. In developing countries, such as Kenya and Nigeria, governments have attempted to establish new pesticide control management systems. However, the lack of governance and monitoring apparatus has hindered improvement. Overall, this problem has decelerated the progress towards achieving Target 13.1.

 

 

To minimize the abuse and the impacts of pesticides, the writer suggests governments in developing countries formulate policies targeting the research and practice of Integrated Control, including a collection of methodologies and criteria. This aims to guide sustainable crop management practices to farmers and enterprises, increasing yields and efficiencies while averting impacts on the ecosystems. Internationally, financial and technical support from large, transactional enterprises is essential to strengthen the research and development of new pesticide substitutes in farms.

 

EU member states have been exporting pesticides produced and banned in their own countries to the Global South, which owns the world’s greatest biodiversity, for massive agricultural activities. The excessive use of pesticides in agriculture has caused a pesticide treadmill in developing countries, resulting in the worsening of the agricultural environment and significant yield losses. As farmers sold their products at low prices, they were too poor for food. While global food production and consumption exceeded 9.5 billion tonnes and 2.5 billion metric tonnes, respectively, in 2021, there were still 828 million people suffering from hunger (Agricultural Production Statistics 2000–2021, 2022). The hypocrisy from enterprises and countries has to be taken into account! 

 

The situation of imbalance in food distribution will persist unless enterprises that dominate the global pesticide industry cease to profit by transforming their environmental costs to poor territories. On a global note, the Macau SAR government and authorities worldwide can provide financial incentives, such as imposing lower taxes on produce from companies with good records in pesticide use, to support green and ethical companies. Simultaneously, to increase citizens’ demands for more sustainable products in the short term, Consumer Councils can reward consumers for purchasing green produce and joining the “Clear Your Plate” campaign. This motivates the public to cultivate sustainable shopping habits and encourages enterprises to reduce pesticide use in agriculture to attract consumers.

 

Nature is home to creatures and plants, and she possesses innate wisdom to maintain equilibrium in the progress of evolution. Innovation and technology empower us to meet massive production demands and improve advancements. Excuses for the abuse of agrochemicals and climate hypocrisy are tactful tricks played on vulnerable workers, but nature retaliates. To rebuild the harmonious relationship between humankind and nature, governments and enterprises must integrate innovation and technology into their environmental protection strategies to fulfill their commitments. Simultaneously, everyone, the world citizens, should take on the role of a vigilant supervisor, checking on each other’s task completion.

 

References

Pesticides use, pesticides trade and pesticides indicators. (2022). In FAO eBooks. https://doi.org/10.4060/cc0918en

Maggi, F., Tang, F. H. M., & Tubiello, F. N. (2023). Agricultural pesticide land budget and river discharge to oceans. Nature, 620(7976), 1013–1017. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-023-06296-x

Agricultural production statistics 2000–2021. (2022). In FAO eBooks. https://doi.org/10.4060/cc3751en

Photo Reference

Photo by Min An: https://www.pexels.com/photo/person-holding-green-grains-1230157/

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