Question: A lot has changed since Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring was first published 50 years ago in 1962. How have crop protection products changed, and how are they used differently?
When Rachel Carson wrote Silent Spring, chemicals were tools used to destroy or control the problem organisms. They did not look for interactions with other organisms and they did not have the studies to see how the chemicals would affect the users. The crop protection products of today are tested in many ways to ensure the safety of the user and the environment. We also have so many more choices that were not available 50 years ago.
Most users of crop protection products now use an integrated pest management (IPM) program that allows them to use a variety of control products to achieve their desired results with maximum safety for the user and minimal damage to the environment. In my own IPM for my greenhouse, I use sticky traps to monitor insect activity.Then, when I notice an increase in insects such as thrips, I release predatory mites to control the thrips. I also like to use chemicals like potassium bicarbonate and sulfur to control different fungi. They do an awesome job and create a safer work environment for me and anyone who comes into the greenhouse.
The crop protection products of today are developed to target specific organisms, break down in the environment so they do not linger like dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) and travel up the food chain and work in an integrated pest management program. We have so many more choices in crop protection products that finding a control method for a particular problem is much easier and safer for the environment.