Botany and Plant Pathology Seminar Series
Speaker: Mr. Leonard Gianessi - Crop Protection Research Inst. - Crop Life Foundation, Washington D.C.
Topic: The Worldwide Importance of Pesticides for Crop Production
When: Wednesday, September 12, 2012 at 3:30 pm in Dean's Auditorium, PFEN

In the United States and Europe, widespread pesticide use began over 100 years ago as a result of

consumer demands for insect-free fruit and vegetables. Today, consumers all around the world have

similar expectations: for produce free of pest damage. As a result, most of the world’s fruit and

vegetables are treated with insecticides and fungicides. Pesticides are widely used in growing export crops in the Tropics. Production of coffee, bananas, cocoa, mangoes, tea and rubber would decline significantly without regular use of insecticides and fungicides to prevent losses to insects and diseases.

Farmers began to use herbicides about 60 years ago and, today, more than 95% of the crop acres in the U.S., Europe, Japan, Australia and Canada are treated with herbicides to prevent weeds from taking over crop fields. These countries adopted widespread herbicide use when worker shortages in the 1950s and 1960s made handweeding impractical. Countries such as China and India are experiencing a rapid growth in herbicide use today as millions of workers leave rural areas and the drudgery of handweeding for industrial jobs.

Widespread pesticide use in developed countries has contributed significantly to food security throughcontrol of pests that would otherwise significantly lower yields. U.S. farm output grew by a factor of five following the introduction of pesticides. Wheat yields in countries like Canada and Australia have increased dramatically with herbicides substituting for tillage. Brazil has increased soybean production and China has expanded wheat production with fungicides. Japan no longer experiences famine due to uncontrolled rice blast disease.

Crop yields have remained stagnant in sub-Saharan Africa as a result of a low rate of pesticide use.

Farmers still try to cope with massive weed infestations by handweeding. Not enough weeding is done,herbicides and fungicides are not used, and African crop yields are 50-90% lower than they could be.

​Contact our receptionist (494-4614) if you are interested in visiting with a speaker