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.
Fighting Invasive Species
Invasive species such as insects and weeds have a potentially crippling effect on ecosystems, crop growth and the U.S. economy. Exotic pests cost the U.S. billions of dollars per year, and 42% of threatened or endangered species in the U.S. are at risk due to non-indigenous species. Crop protection products play an important role in helping to combat invasive pests, save farmers from total crop loss, and play a vital role in preserving threatened wildlife.
Insects and plants which have impacted U.S. crops in recent decades include:
- The olive fruit fly is the most serious insect pest for olives and only just appeared in California in 1998. Olive processors have a zero tolerance standard for the olive fruit fly, and now 100% of the state’s olive acres are treated with insecticides to prevent damage.
- Downy brome, often referred to as cheatgrass, has infested over 3 million acres of cropland in Idaho, Oregon and Washington. Cheatgrass is highly flammable and can be an extremely disruptive weed. Herbicides prove to be an ideal method for protecting crops and reducing wildfire risk.
- In 1990, the glassy-winged sharpshooter (GWSS) appeared in California and has been declared an agricultural pest for the area. The GWSS carries a bacterium which can cause full grapevine death within two years. Grape growers are advised to apply insecticides to prevent significant crop loss.
Specialty pesticide products also help safeguard the public health threat posed by the invasive species that cause disease and property damage. This includes mosquitoes carrying West Nile Virus and malaria, disease-carrying rats and rodents, and termites, fire ants and bed bugs.