Go Easy on Pesticides

We frequently see people excoriating others not to use pesticides. Pesticides, we are told, shouldn’t be used. To some they’re everything that’s wrong with industrial agriculture. Some will even say “don’t use pesticides: use soap/beer/garlic oil/diatomaceous earth”.

The thing is, those are all pesticides. Soap is a pesticide when you use it to suffocate bugs. Beer is a pesticide when you use it to lure slugs to their doom. Vinegar is a pesticide when you use it to kill back weeds.

What most people really mean is that we shouldn’t use synthetic pesticides, which I don’t necessarily agree with entirely. We definitely need to limit and phase out persistent pesticides, that is, those that persist in the environment for years, maybe decades. We need to absolutely stop the reckless overuse that destroys soil life and countless small animals. But this doesn’t mean “never use pesticides” any more than our preference for building soil fertility using biotic sources means that nobody should ever use nitrate fertilizers.

So really, go easy on the pesticides, both in the sense of don’t use them excessively and also stop beating up on any and all uses of pesticides.

Shown: our slug traps.

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