So where do we stand? Should we use pesticides?
We find that many cases where pesticides (such as Roundup) cause problems have been in situations where the pesticide has been used improperly and unsafely. Many chemicals available in retail stores and online DO have unsafe and toxic properties–to humans, wildlife, and plants–but these properties tend to be exacerbated and problematic when these products are used in an improper manner and when applicators do not understand how the products work or how to properly use them.
That said, we believe chemical manufacturers need to have better information available to properly educate chemical end users, and that retail centers need to train their staff to be more knowledgeable about what they sell so that homeowners can take more responsibility and have more understanding while using chemicals. Everyone can get better.
Here at Mid Atlantic Gardening, we have many articles on how to control different pests–from weeds to fungi to insects. Our focus is to inform our readers how to properly use pesticides to safely eliminate these pests in the most environmentally friendly way possible. Our methods will likely not be for everyone–those who want to live pesticide-free may not agree with our use of products such as Roundup or Sevin. That said, we do our best to inform our readers how to safely apply those chemicals when it is necessary, as well as offer non-chemical, cultural solutions as well.
We focus on solutions that are responsible, but work.
Please see our guidelines for safely using pesticides here. How to Use Herbicides Safely
And our guidelines on how to use pesticides in their various forms here. How to Use Pesticides in Their Various Forms
Here is our policy on a few controversial topics in recent years:
There has been plenty written about the problems with Roundup and its parent company, Monsanto.
Read about a relatively recent lawsuit here. A quick Google search will bring up many reasons to be concerned about glyphosate (the active ingredient in Roundup) and other chemicals. But there is enough doubt both legally and scientifically in this debate that make it difficult to make a sweeping statement one way or the other that Roundup is definitely safe or definitely harmful.
Our take: Roundup is always going to be dangerous when its used improperly, like it was in the lawsuit above. However, on this website we do advocate for the use of Roundup and similar products when the situation arises–right time, right place, right amount of chemical, right safety, and right way of applying.
There has been a real push in the fast few years to eliminate certain types of insecticides and to reduce the use of pesticides on flowering plants so that honeybees and beneficial pollinator insects are not injured.
As a whole, this push is GREAT. We should do EVERYTHING possible to save our pollinators. They are the organisms responsible for our food and our ability to survive on this earth.
That said, there are plenty of harmful insects that hinder our ability to grow and harvest food. Not only in our own gardens, but in croplands around the world that can negatively affect the ability for people to eat and survive. Much like our take on herbicides above, we believe that harmful insects should be controlled properly and safely with the most efficient and environmentally friendly insecticide possible.
Sometimes, this may mean spraying in our gardens with a heavy hitting insecticide such as Sevin. We believe it has its place, even though it will kill a honeybee upon contact. Awareness and understanding of the chemical and what it does is key. This is where education is important. If using an insecticide such as Sevin that is harmful to honeybees, care should be taken not to spray plants in flower or in bud stage. If bees are present, simply don’t spray.
Here are some good bullet points to remember if you have to use pesticides, straight from an organization that protects insects and pollinators.