Pesticide Controversies

Archive Report

Old Problem, New Concerns

Mixed Blessings of Pesticide Usage

Since men first tilled the earth, farmers have fought endless battles with pests that prey on crops and livestock. For 40 years, the agricultural industry has waged all-out war on insects, disease, worms and weeds with modern-day chemical weapons. But powerful pesticides, once hailed as miracles of science, have spread mixed blessings on the fields.

Agricultural pests still consume at least one-third of the food crops that the world grows each year. Synthetic chemical pesticides, while helping farmers double crop yields, have also bred resistant insects and set new pests loose by killing their natural enemies. Sprayed indiscriminately across the fields by helicopters or low-flying “crop dusters,” lethal compounds have killed wildlife, contaminated soil and streams, and built ...

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