How many times have those of us in the crop protection industry used the word “pesticide” and encountered responses of confusion or concern? Among many consumers, the crop protection products that farmers rely upon have developed an inaccurate reputation and are more often associated with potential risks than rewards. The truth is that after decades of work by industry, government and growers alike, we are able to improve the safety and effectiveness of these products and add to the growing list of benefits that they bring.
Here are just a few potentially unknown benefits of pesticides when it comes to…
- Maintaining a healthy lifestyle: Pesticides help provide the fresh fruits and vegetables that are essential for longer, healthier lives. A study published in Food and Chemical Toxicology found that increasing fruit and vegetable consumption by just one serving a day could prevent approximately 20,000 cancer cases every year.
- Climate change: Herbicides allow farmers to rely more on conservation tillage practices to keep weeds under control; these practices can reduce fuel usage by 558 million gallons and carbon dioxide emissions by 22.2 billion pounds per year. Smart tillage practices minimize environmental impact through soil conservation, as well, and reduce erosion by 360 billion pounds per year.
- The 2012 drought: Although this year’s drought presented challenging growing conditions for farmers across the country, its negative effects will be relatively minor compared to major droughts of the past. This is in part because innovative farming approaches that include the safe application of crop protection products have decreased soil loss by 67 percent and reduced irrigation water use by 53 percent.
- Biodiversity: Maintaining the health and diversity of the ecosystem is just one of many goals of modern agriculture. Crop protection chemicals are designed to specifically protect against harmful pests, diseases and invasive weeds that threaten to overrun natural habitats, while also preventing these habitats from being converted into farmland.
- The U.S. economy: The crop protection industry is vital to the U.S. economy and provides jobs for approximately one million Americans. As an added benefit, data shows that crop protection products allow consumers to save when purchasing fresh produce.
This year, and in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of Silent Spring, CropLife America shared additional benefits related to the positive intersections between Silent Spring and the crop protection industry, many of which can be read in the February 2012 Tell Me More newsletter or on the CLA website. As modern agriculture evolves and enhances our quality of life, CLA will continue to publish these benefits in the New Year and beyond.