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The Regulation of Pesticides

The regulation of pesticides has been an important component of environmental protection at least since Rachel Carson warned about the dangers of unregulated pesticide use in her book Silent Spring in 1962. While regulations have been passed and implemented for the control of pesticides, there has been an ongoing argument over the degree to which such regulations should curtail the use of these poisons. Agriculturalists and others emphasize the benefits that accrue because of the use of pesticides, including the protection of various crops and the increased food yield that this involves, leading in turn to lower food prices and more choice in the supermarket. Some have warned that if pesticide use was banned in the United Stats, crop losses would probably increase to 50 percent of current production and food prices would increase four- to five-fold. Critics stress the problems associated with the use of pesticides, the viewpoint of Carson, while opponents of pesticide regulation simply note the economic problems that increased regulation would bring. However, there is evidence that the problems associated with unregulated pesticide use are simply too great to be suffered and that some regulation is sorely needed for the protection of the economy as well as our health and safety.

The extent of pesticide use is considerable. About one billion pounds of pesticides are used each year in the United States to control pests, and they are employed primarily against insect pests, plant pathogens, and weeds. About 51 percent of those used are herbicides, 35 percent are insecticides, and 14 percent are fungicides. The distribution of these products on the crops is uneven. Fifty percent of all insecticide used in agriculture is applied to cotton and tobacco crops. Of the food crops, corn, fruits, and vegetables receive the largest dosage, but here again the distribution is uneven. Forty-five percent is applied to corn, and soybeans...

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The Regulation of Pesticides. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 17:20, April 19, 2019, from