Agriculture Evolves

Countless advances in science, technology and legislation over the past half-century have ensured smarter, safer, more environmentally-conscious applications of crop protection products. Those advances allow farmers to provide the produce we rely on every day, from the grocery store to the farmers market.

One significant event in the evolution of agricultural practices celebrates a milestone anniversary today—Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring was published 50 years ago, on September 27, 1962. Carson’s book inspired a movement that led to the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and helped usher in modern standards and practices that farmers utilize today.

50 years later, Silent Spring is still regarded as a revolutionary and provocative text, but many people do not realize how drastically the usage and regulation of pesticides has changed. Below is a sample of responses from participants in our Tell Me More MMA degree program, who reflected on how crop protection products and practices have changed over the last half-century.

  • “The past half-century has seen major changes in nearly all aspects of agriculture…Perhaps the most significant changes, however, have been in the design and application of modern pesticides. Modern pesticides are now typically designed for specific uses, targeting a specific crop/pest combination, generating minimal adverse effects on beneficial plants and insects. The use of precision pesticides allows farmers to treat their crops for a specific weed type, insect, or disease as needed, minimizing the total amount of chemical used.” Read full essay…
  • “Indeed, the readers of Carson’s 1962 book would hardly recognize the farmer of today. He or she is a well-educated professional, carefully considering all inputs and the sustainability and environmental impact, both short- and long-term, of all choices. This farmer uses high-tech equipment and precision application technology, all the while carefully monitoring and gathering data to ensure continuous improvement.” Read full essay…
  • “The crop protection products of today are developed to target specific organisms, break down in the environment so they do not linger 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.” Read full essay…

We live in a safer, healthier world as a result of Ms. Carson’s inspirational work, and for that, we can all be truly thankful.

For more facts, videos and resources on how crop protection products continue to evolve, click here.


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