Crop plants must compete with 30,000 species of weeds, 3,000 species of nematodes and 10,000 species of plant-eating insects. Despite the use of modern crop protection products, 20-40% of potential food production is still lost every year to pests. An adequate, reliable food supply cannot be guaranteed without the use of crop protection products.
Consumers expect high quality fruit and vegetables; this means produce free of insect blemishes and insect contamination. Before the introduction of insecticides, holes, scars, and surface tunnels made my insects feeding on crops could often be found in produce sold to consumers in addition to insect fragments in canned products. Before the introduction of insecticides, blueberries often contained maggots, aphids - also known as plant lice - could be found in canned spinach, and fruitworm in tomatoes. Insecticides reduce and, in some cases, eliminate, insect damage allowing the consumer to purchase blemish-free, high quality produce.