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By José Daniel Fuentes
The use of agrochemicals in conventional agriculture has caused negative consequences, directly and indirectly, on soils, waters and human beings themselves. Annually, between 1 and 5 million poisonings with pesticides occur, resulting in the death of about 20,000 people (men, women and children) and it is predicted that each year 3 million will be poisoned and 750,000 new people will suffer chronic effects from exposure to pesticides.
It is evident that planet earth will not bear any more abuses by human beings, supported by the physiological need for food, since man in his eagerness to obtain, protect and secure his agricultural productions, has opted for the indiscriminate use and many times unaware of the pesticides used in conventional agriculture. This has caused direct and indirect negative consequences on soils, waters and human beings. For this reason, the research, use and application of alternatives that allow man to remedy his need for food production and protection of his crops, but from a more friendly approach to the environment that surrounds him, is currently gaining an impressive boom. In this sense, the use of plant extracts to control pests has the advantage of not causing contamination, because these substances are rapidly degraded in the environment. Furthermore, plants with biocidal potential constitute an important control component, within the context of integrated pest management.
Farmers are frequently exposed to pesticides, either during the preparation of the mixtures, their application on the crops, the cleaning of the equipment or the storage of the products. This is how intoxications or poisonings, both of the producer and his family, occur because gloves or masks are not used, due to spills of the product on the body, due to the malfunction of the sprinklers, or due to involuntary inhalations, either because the Products are stored in warehouses adjacent to the rooms or because the growing areas are close to the houses.
Annually, between 1 and 5 million pesticide poisonings occur, resulting in the death of about 20,000 people (men, women and children) and it is predicted that each year 3 million will be poisoned and 750,000 new people will suffer chronic effects from exposure to pesticides. A case is reflected in the study carried out in the Quibor Valley, Lara state, Venezuela, where it was found that 46% of the lactating women included in the sample had residues of benzene E-hexachloride (hexachlorocyclohexane), a product that is used as fungicide for the treatment of seeds and is considered carcinogenic, which is why it is not used in industrialized countries, but it is exported.
Despite the different conventions and codes of conduct proposed, safety in the use of pesticides depends on social, economic, educational and even climatic factors. The culture of their use is so ingrained in the producers that in practice it constitutes the first alternative used by them. Some products require certain high-cost protective equipment that may not be available to the small farmer. In addition, in some cases they are uncomfortable and hot in our tropical areas, so farm workers decide not to use them. That is why it is necessary to evaluate other control alternatives that are less dangerous and equally effective for the management of pests.
The International Code of Conduct for the Distribution and Use of Pesticides (CICDUP) in its Art. 3, section 3.9 establishes that "governments, with the support of relevant international and regional organizations, should encourage and promote the research and development of alternatives that involve lower risks: biological control agents and techniques, non-chemical pesticides ”…” and pose a reduced risk to humans and the environment ”. Within the framework of the FAO recommendation, research has been carried out in order to find, among wild plants, some whose extracts have a fungicidal, repellent or biocidal effect and can be used as an alternative in the management of diseases and pests in crops.
The use of plants and their extracts dates back hundreds of years in Chinese and Egyptian culture, which used them to control certain human, household and agricultural pests. At the same time in the indigenous cultures of Latin America (Mayas, Incas etc.), the use of them to counteract certain types of diseases and parasites in humans, for hunting, for fishing, for the treatment of snakebite, in the veterinary field, in the traditions to not allow harm or take out evil spirits, to prevent and reduce the damage of pests in crops and other uses.
The focus of our ancestors, in the use of plants within the agricultural context, although they did not have a scientific technical concept that is considered to exist today, was to promote and preserve biodiversity, to be friends with the environment that surrounded them. and that this was permanent, concepts that were diluted over time, until reaching the ecological disaster that surrounds us and that it will take a long time to get to recover part of that lost environment.
In Venezuela, the possibility of scientifically demonstrating that the aqueous extract of Artemisia vulgaris L. (Altamisa) could be an agroecological alternative to control insect pests, this plant being one of the various subspecies of the genus Artemisia. Occasionally called in Spanish: absinthe, altamisa, anastasia, artamisa, artamisia, artemega, mugwort, common mugwort, vulgar mugwort, mugwort, girdle, brown brush, flower of saints, wayfarer's herb, St. John's wort, madra, mother yerba, madrona, manzanillón, santolina, tomaraja, tomarajas, yerba de San Juan and mogusa in Japan. Scientific Classification. Class: Magnoliopsida; Order: Asterales; Family: Asteraceae; Subfamily: Asteroideae and Tribe: Anthemideane.
The author supports this proposal since according to various studies, the plant is especially rich in an essential oil that is mainly composed of eucalyptol and thujone, which are natural toxic substances. It also has resins, mucilage and, in the herbaceous parts, small amounts of adenine and choline are found. Also, the leaves contain vitamins A, B and C.
This plant in Venezuela, specifically in the Delta Amacuro state and its flooded areas of the urban limits of the city of Tucupita, presents all the edaphic and agroclimatic conditions, so that it develops in the wild in large quantities and that is rarely or rarely taken advantage of, having as a characteristic a strong natural smell, which causes, that its leaves are little attacked by insects, which allows the reasonable possibility that an investigative work is proposed, which is in charge of studying the biorepellent properties of the aqueous botanical extract of the same in different doses.
The result of this research would yield an ecological, efficient and economic alternative for pest control framed in agro-environmental conditions present in the Delta Amacuro state and other areas with similar characteristics.
At a productive economic level, it is estimated that with the use of ecological alternatives such as the aqueous botanical extract of Artemisia vulgaris (Altamisa), great savings can be achieved in terms of product application costs for the control of insect pests, compared to the expenses incurred with the application of chemicals. At the same time, an added value can be achieved to the final product, coming from a production with zero toxins.
Regarding the environment, it would be addressing a current and current problem framed within the guidelines of our country, by presenting an alternative with a guideline towards the path of ecological agriculture, which allows safeguarding the environment, at the same time they meet the nutritional needs of the nation. The fact of scientifically researching and promoting the use of agroecological techniques in the use of plants of spontaneous and abundant growth, for the control of insects within crops, would constitute a fact of great importance and importance in the protection of the environment today, because conventional agriculture continues with its techniques that involve huge amounts of agrochemicals.
With the use of the extract of Artemisia vulgaris L. (Altamisa), an alternative to control insect pests would be provided within a certain crop, without underestimating its potential as a source of nutrients for said extract and its possible use in other areas.
Within the social aspect, it can be denoted the possible ignorance of the producers in the area of these important ecological alternatives, for which it would seek to demonstrate through scientific methods, the effectiveness of these agroecological techniques, awaken their commitment to the environment that them surround and improve their knowledge, so that there is a change in behavior regarding the use of agro-toxins to control insect pests and put into practice the new techniques learned. As well as the use of a little-used plant with a truly large presence in community settings and during most months of the year.
With this research and the results it produces, new opportunities and agroecological techniques will be established that will result in health and life safety, things that cannot be certified with the continuous use of agrochemicals.
Jose Daniel Fuentes, Born in Tucupita, Venezuela - Delta Amacuro State, graduated from T.S.U in Plant Science, graduated from I.U.T Dr. Delfín Mendoza; Prof. Physical Education and Sports, graduated from the Libertador Experimental Pedagogical University, currently studying at the Pinar del Río University, framed in the Cuba - Venezuela agreement, being a student of the Master in Agroecology and Sustainable Agriculture.