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Alternative NamesPesticides and food
Definition Return to top
Pesticides are substances that protect plants against molds, fungi, and insects. The term pesticide refers to all pest control substances, including insecticides, herbicides, and fungicides.
The use of pesticides helps prevent crop loss and potential human disease. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, there are currently more than 865 registered pesticides. Less than half of those are used to protect our food supply. (Overall, most experts agree the United States has a safe food supply.)
Man-made pesticides are regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This agency controls how much man-made pesticide can be applied on crops, and how much can remain on the food you buy.
Side Effects Return to top
Because pesticides are meant to kill, they do pose some risks. Certain pesticides, such as those that contain nicotine, can be very toxic. Biopesticides, which are created from natural materials, are less risky.
Large scale studies suggest that pesticide residues are unlikely to be an important risk factor for cancer for general public.Update Date: 8/9/2007 Updated by: Eric Perez, MD, Department of Emergency Medicine, St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center, New York, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.