In this section
Crop Protection Facts and Pesticide Data
- Today, growers of many U.S. crops hire independent professional consultants to manage their product use and only request applications of crop protection products when a problem arises. They also use products that are specific to the pests present. This has led some crops, like cotton, to reduce product applications from 20 or 40 applications per year down to 4 or 5.
- Manufacturers have made tremendous advances in modern-day crop protection products. Today we have many highly targeted products that only affect specific pests. In addition to safer products that dissipate in the environment more quickly, today we use these products in much lower rates because they are much more targeted and effective.
- Crop protection products increase crop productivity by 20 – 50%, thereby making it possible for consumers to choose from an abundant supply of fresh, high-quality foods that are affordable and accessible year-round.
- Agricultural output has to double in the next 20-30 years in order to feed the world’s population. By 2030, the United Nations predicts there is likely to be 1.7 billion more people to feed worldwide. Farmers must have access to crop protection solutions to grow more food per acre.
- Crop protection products combat global malnutrition and starvation by increasing crop yields, helping families worldwide afford more fresh produce. Currently, one-sixth of the world population, over 900 million people, suffers from malnutrition and continued advances in crop protection are needed as the world’s population grows.
- There are over 2 million farms in America, and individuals and family businesses operate 97% of them.
- U.S. consumers spend about 10% of their income on food, while consumers in other countries, such as France and India, use between 13 – 35% of their income on food.
- Agriculture is America’s top export, with Canada, Japan, Mexico and the European Union being our leading foreign markets.
Pest, Disease, and Weed Management
- Each acre of U.S. cropland contains 50 to 300 million buried weed seeds.
- Crop protection products comprise a wide range of goods for both professional and home applications, including insecticides, fungicides, herbicides, sanitizers, growth regulators, rodenticides, and soil fumigants that help control insects, diseases, weeds, fungi and other undesirable pests that would otherwise threaten our food supply.
- 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.
- Farmers get back at least $14.60 for every $1 invested on fungicides which allows them to use that money to further invest in seeds and other farming implements to grow more and better crops.
- Crop protection protects biodiversity by controlling noxious, invasive weeds that may choke waterways or overrun natural habitats. They also aid in the safety of America’s roadways by keeping road signs, right-of-ways, power lines, and railroad tracks visible and clear from weeds.
- Organic farmers use pesticides, too. They apply non-synthetic crop protection products, such as sulfur and copper, to protect crops from pests and increase yields.
- Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a system using biological, cultural, physical, and chemical tools to manage pests. Farmers use methods such as IPM, buffer zones, and reduced and no-till farming to protect the environment.
- Crop protection products help fight diseases that jeopardize public health by killing parasites like malaria and guinea worm.
- Although the world population has doubled in the last 40 years, the area of land devoted to food production has remained virtually constant; crop protection products have enabled farmers to produce higher yields of their crops on less land. In fact, U.S. farmers provide 18% of the world’s food supply on only 10% of the world’s farmland.
- Currently in the U.S., 2 million acres of farmland are devoted to growing rice. Without crop protection products, it would take twice as many acres to provide the same supply.
- U.S. agriculture accounted for 5% of energy use in 1970, and today accounts for 1% of national energy use, thanks to the introduction of reduced-tillage farming and crop inputs. For more information on conservation tillage please click here.
- Crop protection contributes to U.S. energy security by supporting efficient corn growth and in turn, ethanol production.
- Crop protection products help to protect water quality and aquatic habitats by reducing soil erosion, which can sweep dirt and other materials into surface waters.
- The regulatory framework of crop protection products encompasses national, regional, and international legislation that helps ensure safety for users, consumers and the environment.
- Safety considerations pertaining directly to the use of crop protection products includes education and training programs that relay how products can be used safely and efficiently. Only a certified crop protection applicator can apply restricted-use agricultural crop protection products.
- It costs up to $256 million to research, develop, and register a new crop protection product; only 1 in 139,000 chemicals make it from the laboratory to the farmers’ fields.
- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) safety review involves over 100 toxicology and environmental studies on crop protection products that must demonstrate that their proper use do not pose unreasonable risks to human health or the environment before it can be registered for use by EPA.
- The Federal Insecticide, Rodenticide, and Fungicide Act (FIFRA) regulates the crop protection industry and provides EPA with the authority to oversee the sale and use of pesticides.