How has the
increased use of pesticides in the US affected crop output and pest populations?
farmers in the U.S. regularly rely on pesticides and herbicides. Additionally,
they often use agricultural methods such as monoculture (the cultivation
of a single crop) and genetically identical crops to maximize output.
These methods of agriculture have an effect on the number and strength
of pests. There has been a significant increase in the proportion of crops
lost to pests since the beginning of the Agricultural Revolution in the
1950's, and a study conducted by the University of Vermont concluded that
pesticide resistance has cost the U.S. $1,400,000,000 since then.
The process of developing and applying pesticides is an unending problematic chain that continually increases the risks to human and environmental health. For example, though banned in many European countries, the pesticide atrazine is becoming more widespread in the U.S. While a maximum contaminant level has been set by the EPA, atrazine leaches into groundwater and was the second most frequently detected pesticide in EPA's National Survey of Pesticides in Drinking Water Wells. EPA's Pesticides in Ground Water Database detected atrazine at concentrations above the maximum contaminant level in ground water in several states
There are many alternatives to chemical pest control. Pest control by promoting natural enemies has been found to be effective. Genetic control or breeding disease-resistant varieties of plants can also be done. Also, as one case study in Pennsylvania showed, some soil management practices, such as organic farming rotations, can reduce the need for pesticides, thus preventing pesticide resistance.
To read more about pesticide resistence, please visit the following sites: