Safe, Affordable Pesticides Still Needed in U.S. Agriculture

The vast majority of Americans are uncomfortable with the use of chemical pesticides. That attitude is understandable, given how pesticides have been used in the past half-century. Ill-considered applications of toxic or environmentally persistent chemicals have caused serious health problems and extensive environmental damage. But at the same time, Americans take for granted the year-round abundant supply of fresh, affordable food, including a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, at their loc

May Berenbaum
Sep 17, 2000

The vast majority of Americans are uncomfortable with the use of chemical pesticides. That attitude is understandable, given how pesticides have been used in the past half-century. Ill-considered applications of toxic or environmentally persistent chemicals have caused serious health problems and extensive environmental damage. But at the same time, Americans take for granted the year-round abundant supply of fresh, affordable food, including a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, at their local supermarkets. Consumers may not want to acknowledge it, but the fact remains that a safe and plentiful food supply is, in part, a result of pesticide use.

Today's pesticides, however, are very different from the sensational headline makers of years past. Many of the most destructive pesticides have been driven from the marketplace--thanks to advances in chemistry that reduce adverse impacts and to tougher regulations that protect human health and the environment. But pesticides remain a necessary tool...

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