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我们真的需要杀虫剂吗 – 译学馆
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我们真的需要杀虫剂吗

Do we really need pesticides? - Fernan Pérez-Gálvez

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Light up the world
1845年 爱尔兰的巨型马铃薯田被一种真菌感染
In 1845, Ireland’s vast potato fields were struck by an invasive fungal disease
并且迅速地传遍主要作物
that rapidly infested this staple crop.
这件事的影响是毁灭性的
The effect was devastating.
一百万人死于饥荒
One million people died of famine,
还有一百多万人被迫离开爱尔兰
and over a million more were forced to leave Ireland.
现今 我们借助杀虫剂避免这样的农业灾难
Nowadays, we avoid such agricultural catastrophes with the help of pesticides.
那是一系列可以控制害虫【杀虫剂】
Those are a range of manmade chemicals that control insects,
杂草
unwanted weeds,
真菌
funguses,
啮齿动物
rodents,
以及可能会影响
and bacteria
我们食物供应的细菌的人造化学品
that may threaten our food supply.
它们已成为我们食物系统的重要组成部分
They’ve become an essential part of our food system.
随着人口的增长 单作物种植培栽的策略
As populations have grown, monoculture, single crop farming,
让我们能更有效地为人们提供食物
has helped us feed people efficiently.
但是这也使我们的食物更容易受到害虫的广泛攻击
But it’s also left our food vulnerable to extensive attack by pests.
反过来 我们变得越来越依赖杀虫剂
In turn, we’ve become more dependent on pesticides.
现今 我们每年在地球上喷洒超过50亿磅杀虫剂【约合227万吨】
Today, we annually shower over 5 billion pounds of pesticides across the Earth
以控制这些不受欢迎的访客
to control these unwanted visitors.
对抗害虫 尤其是昆虫的战役
The battle against pests, especially insects,
在漫长的农业历史中留下了标记
has marked agriculture’s long history.
几千年前的记录就表明
Records from thousands of years ago
人们在收割后会积极地烧毁一些作物
suggest that humans actively burned some of their crops after harvest
去避免虫害
to rid them of pests.
甚至在古代 就有人类招募其他昆虫控制虫害的证据
There’s even evidence from ancient times that we recruited other insects to help.
公元300年 中国农民专门在橙果园培育凶猛的
In 300 A.D., Chinese farmers specially bred ferocious predatory ants
食肉蚂蚁去预防其他虫害
in orange orchards to protect the trees from other bugs.
后来 随着大规模种植的普及
Later, as large-scale farming spread,
我们开始喷洒砷 铅以及铜来处理作物【砷对昆虫、细菌与蕈类有极大的毒性 铅有毒 铜有很强的杀菌作用】
we began sprinkling arsenic, lead, and copper treatments on crops.
但是这些东西对人类也有很大的毒性
But these were incredibly toxic to humans as well.
随着我们需求的提高 安全生产也在发展
As our demand for more, safer produce increased,
所以需要能够大规模控制虫害的
so did the need for effective chemicals
有效的化学物
that could control pests on a grander scale.
这开辟了化学农药的时代【化学农药】
This ushered in the era of chemical pesticides.
在1948年 一个名叫保罗·赫尔曼的瑞士化学家【1948年得到诺贝尔生理学或医学奖,这是首次由非生理学家夺此殊荣】
In 1948, a Swiss chemist named Paul Hermann Müller
因为发现二氯二苯三氯乙烷 也叫DDT
was awarded a Nobel Prize for his discovery
而获得诺贝尔奖【二氯二苯三氯乙烷】
of dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, also known as DDT.
这种新分子在控制多种害虫上 都有无与伦比的能力
This new molecule had unparalleled power to control many insect species
直到50年代 害虫才对其免疫
until the 1950s, when insects became resistant to it.
糟糕的是 这种化学物也导致了鸟类数量的急剧下降
Worse, the chemical actually drove dramatic declines in bird populations,
污染了水源
poisoned water sources,
并最终导致了人类长期的健康问题
and was eventually found to cause long-term health problems in humans.
到1972年时 DDT在美国已被禁用
By 1972, DDT had been banned in the United States,
不过 直到现在 环境中仍有它的印记
and yet traces still linger in the environment today.
从那时起 化学家们一直在寻找替代品
Since then, chemists have been searching for alternatives.
每一次有新的发明 他们都会遇到相同的障碍
With each new wave of inventions, they’ve encountered the same obstacle –
即物种的快速进化
rapid species evolution.
因为杀虫剂削减了害虫的数量
As pesticides destroy pest populations,
它们只会留下最耐药的个体
they leave behind only the most resistant individuals.
然后害虫对它们的后代
They then pass on their pesticide-resisting genes
传递耐药基因
to the next generation.
这样导致超级害虫的数量上升
That’s lead to the rise of super bugs,
如科罗拉多州的马铃薯甲虫【马铃薯甲虫属鞘翅目,叶甲科。是世界有名的毁灭性检疫害虫。原产在美国,后传入其他国家。】
such as the Colorado potato beetle,
对50多种杀虫剂免疫
which is resistant to over 50 different insecticides.
另一个负面影响是其他昆虫被误伤
Another downside is that other bugs get caught in the crossfire.
其中有些是有益的害虫捕食者或者重要的传粉者
Some of these are helpful predators of plant pests or vital pollinators,
所以消灭它们 也抹杀了它们的益处
so erasing them from agriculture wipes out their benefits, too.
随着时间推移 杀虫剂有所改进
Pesticides have improved over time
而且现在受到严格的安全标准管制
and are currently regulated by strict safety standards,
但它们仍有可能污染土地和水源
but they still have the potential to pollute soil and water,
影响野生动物
impact wildlife,
甚至是人类的生命
and even harm us.
考虑到所有风险 我们为何还要继续使用杀虫剂
So considering all these risks, why do we continue using pesticides?
尽管不完美
Although they’re imperfect,
它们目前仍是我们对抗主要作物灾害的最佳选择
they currently may be our best bet against major agricultural disasters,
更不用说蚊媒疾病【蚊媒传染病,是由病媒蚊子传播的自然疫源性疾病,常见的有流行性乙脑、疟疾、登革热、丝虫病、黄热病等】
not to mention mosquito-born diseases.
现在科学家们在寻求可供替代的
Today, scientists are on a quest for alternative pest control strategies
能够平衡食物生产需求与环境保护之间关系的
that balance the demands of food production
害虫控制策略
with environmental concerns.
自然界一直都是主要的灵感来源
Nature has become a major source of inspiration,
从可以驱除或者吸引昆虫的天然植物或者真菌产出的化学物质
from natural plant and fungal chemicals that can repel or attract insects,
到招募其他昆虫作为植物的保镖
to recruiting other insects as crop bodyguards.
我们也求助于高科技 如无人机
We’re also turning to high-tech solutions, like drones.
给它们编程 在作物上方盘旋
Programmed to fly over crops,
这些机器可使用传感器和GPS定位
these machines can use their sensors and GPS
来进行更有针对性的喷药
to carry out more targeted sprays
以限制农药对自然界的广泛影响
that limit a pesticide’s wider environmental impact.
结合对于生物的了解
With a combination of biological understanding,
环保意识
environmental awareness,
以及改进的技术
and improved technologies,
我们将能够找到一个全面解决害虫的方法
we have a better chance of finding a holistic solution to pests.
化学农药可能永远无法改变其饱受争议的名声
Chemical pesticides may never shake their controversial reputation,
但是在它们的帮助下
but with their help,
我们可以确保农业灾害
we can ensure that agricultural catastrophes
只存在于历史之中
stay firmly in our past.

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