Biodiversity, Food and Farming for a Healthy Planet

Can farming affect biodiversity?

Using pesticides can have unexpected and unwanted effects. Often, the same chemicals that farmers apply to get rid of crop pests harm other species living around the farm. Some of these species may actually help to control the real crop pests! For example, DDT (Dichloro-Diphenyl-Trichloroethane) is a powerful pesticide that is poisonous to not only insects, but also animals and humans. DDT is so powerful it was banned in many countries, but some countries that face malaria problems still use it to kill mosquitoes. So if a farmer chooses to spray chemicals he or she must follow the instructions carefully to minimize the damage to other harmless species.

If farmers are not careful in their use of natural resources, they can decrease the amount of resources available to them to grow food. When there are not enough nutrients in the soil, farmers often buy chemical fertilizers. Using fertilizers can help grow more food, but using too much can pollute the water. Polluted water affects organisms that drink the water or that live in it. For example, too many pollutants can kill fish. Water pollutants also affect our health, as it decreases the amount of clean water to drink, wash and grow crops.