1 minute read


Benefits Of Insecticide Use

Humans have attained important benefits from many uses of insecticides, including: (1) increased yields of crops because of protection from defoliation and diseases; (2) prevention of much spoilage of stored foods; and (3) prevention of certain diseases, which conserves health and has saved the lives of millions of people and domestic animals. Pests destroy an estimated 37% of the potential yield of plant crops in North America. Some of this damage can be reduced by the use of insecticides. In addition, insecticide spraying is one of the crucial tools used to reduce the abundance of mosquitoes and other insects that carry certain diseases (such as malaria) to humans. The use of insecticides to reduce the populations of these vectors has resulted in hundreds of millions of people being spared the deadly or debilitating effects of various diseases.

This is not to say that more insecticide use would yield even greater benefits. In fact, it has been argued that pesticide use in North America could be decreased by one-half without causing much of a decrease in crop yields, while achieving important environmental benefits through fewer ecological damages. In fact, three European countries (Sweden, Denmark, and the Netherlands) passed legislation in the 1990s requiring at least a 50% reduction in agricultural pesticide use by the year 2000, and similar actions may eventually be adopted in North America.

Because of the substantial benefits of many uses of pesticides, their use has increased enormously since the 1950s. For example, pesticide usage increased by 10-fold in North America between 1945 and 1989, although it leveled off during the 1990s. Pesticide usage (including insecticides) is now a firmly integrated component of the technological systems used in modern agriculture, forestry, horticulture, and public-health management in most parts of the world.

Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Incomplete dominance to IntuitionismInsecticides - Introduction, Kinds Of Insecticides, Benefits Of Insecticide Use, Damages Caused By Insecticide Use