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Reducing pesticide use and risks - What action is needed?

Authors:
Reducing pesticide use and risks -
What action is needed?
Briefing paper
Frank Eyhorn, Tina Roner, Heiko Specking
September 2015
Supported by:
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Acknowledgements and disclaimer
In Part I of this briefing paper we largely draw on information and published studies compiled
in the following publications:
FAO (2011). Save and Grow. A policy maker's guide to the sustainable intensification
of smallholder crop production. Rome: FAO.
IAASTD (2009). International assessment of agricultural knowledge, science and
technology for development: global report. Washington DC: Island Press.
Pretty, J. (2005). The Pesticide Detox - Towards a more sustainable agriculture .
London : Earthscan.
Pretty, J. and Bharucha, Z. P. (2015). Integrated Pest Management for Sustainable
Intensification of Agriculture in Asia and Africa. Insects, Insects 2015, 6, 152-182;.
Greenpeace (2015). Pesticides and our Health. A growing concern. Greenpeace UK.
Leu, A. (2014). The Myths of Safe Pesticides. Austin, Texas: Acres USA.
Part II builds on the results of a Symposium on pesticide reduction held on 3rd September 2015
at ETH Zurich, Switzerland. It compiles the conclusions of panel discussions and workshops
involving 130 participants including consumers and their organisations, farmers and their
organisations, scientists from various disciplines (agriculture, plant breeding, food safety,
health, economy, ecosystems science, ecotoxicology, aquatic science, food systems,
corporate social responsibility etc.), food brands, processors, retailers, public health
organisations, water suppliers, investors, government offices (agriculture, economy,
environment, veterinary and food safety), beekeepers, biocontrol suppliers, environmental and
social advocacy NGOs, development cooperation organisations, and UN organisations. Their
contributions are gratefully acknowledged.
This publication has been made possible through financial support by the Mercator Foundation
Switzerland, the Swiss Federal Office for Agriculture (BLW) and HELVETAS Swiss
Intercooperation. The content, however, is the sole responsibility of the authors.
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Contents
Executive Summary ................................................................................................................... 4
Introduction ................................................................................................................................ 5
PART I: Overview on issues, approaches and policies related to pesticide reduction
1. Pesticide use in agriculture What are the issues?.......................................................... 7
1.1. Current use of pesticides in agriculture ...................................................................... 7
1.2. Pesticides and health ................................................................................................. 7
1.3. Pesticides and the environment ................................................................................. 9
1.4. Economics of pesticide use ...................................................................................... 10
2. Strategies available for pesticide reduction ..................................................................... 10
2.1. Agronomic practices ................................................................................................. 11
2.2. Resistant crops ......................................................................................................... 11
2.3. Bio-control and natural pesticides ............................................................................ 11
2.4. Integrated Pest Management ................................................................................... 12
2.5. Agroecology.............................................................................................................. 13
2.6. Organic agriculture ................................................................................................... 13
2.7. Use of less hazardous pesticides............................................................................. 14
3. Policies to reduce pesticide use and risks ....................................................................... 14
3.1. International policies and instruments ...................................................................... 14
3.2. National legislation and policies ............................................................................... 14
3.3. Pesticide action plans............................................................................................... 15
3.4. Private sector and civil society initiatives ................................................................. 16
Part II: Conclusions and recommended action
4. Consensus on objectives and strategies ......................................................................... 18
4.1. Broad consensus on objectives ............................................................................... 18
4.2. Why is it necessary to reduce pesticides and their risks? ....................................... 19
4.3. Understanding the root causes of the pesticide problem ........................................ 20
4.4. How to approach pesticide reduction ....................................................................... 21
5. Recommended action ...................................................................................................... 21
5.1. Enhancing knowledge through research.................................................................. 21
5.2. Strengthening know-how on alternatives and on safe use ...................................... 22
5.3. Increasing the demand for low-/no-pesticide products ............................................ 23
5.4. Raising awareness for pesticide issues ................................................................... 24
5.5. Revisiting legislation and policies............................................................................. 25
6. Conclusions...................................................................................................................... 27
Annex: Overview of actions proposed ..................................................................................... 28
References .............................................................................................................................. 29
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Executive Summary
Pesticides play a sensitive role in food systems: they are applied in order to protect crops, but
they can have negative impacts on environment and human health. While global pesticide use
has grown to 3.5 billion kg active ingredients per year, a significant portion of the chemicals
applied has proved to be excessive, uneconomic or unnecessary both in industrialized and
developing countries. For society as a whole it would be desirable to gradually reduce pesticide
use to a level where negative impacts externalities like health hazards, biodiversity loss or
water pollution at least do not outweigh the value added in terms of yields or cost savings in
production. Today there is a consensus among a wide range of stakeholders that pesticide
use needs to be gradually reduced to a level that is effectively required to ensure crop
production, and that risks of pesticide application need to be reduced as far as possible.
Experience across the world shows that pesticide use can be reduced considerably without
unduly reducing yields or increasing costs of production. A step-wise reduction of pesticide
use is feasible already within the current production systems and with the knowledge,
technologies and alternatives available today.
There is a large body of scientific evidence that the current use of pesticides has unwanted
side effects on human health and environment. These externalities are particularly grave in
some developing countries and emerging economies because of the widespread use of highly
hazardous pesticides, the low level of awareness on risks and the lack of protective equipment.
Phasing out of highly hazardous pesticides is therefore absolutely necessary also in these
countries. But even in countries where strict registration processes are in place and farmers
apply pesticides as prescribed, multiple pesticide residues are found in food and water bodies.
Various studies concluded that pesticide exposure is a significant additional risk factor in many
chronic diseases such as several types of cancer, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s
disease. There is circumstantial evidence that exposure to pesticides is associated with
disruption in the immune system and hormone imbalances which may increase the risk for
obesity, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, reproductive problems and food allergies. Unborn
and young children are in particular vulnerable to pesticide exposure. Numerous studies
reported for children exposed to high levels of pesticides a delay in their cognitive
development, behavioural effects and birth defects. Other studies indicate that even pesticide
exposure from diet can be associated with poorer intellectual development or attention
deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Pesticides are now found in every habitat on earth and are routinely detected in both marine
and terrestrial animals. Pesticides in freshwater supplies have become a serious and
increasingly costly concern, with detected levels often exceeding the set limits. There is
substantial published literature on the effects of pesticides on wildlife and biodiversity. Studies
have shown that systemic insecticides affect the viability of bee colonies. Widespread pesticide
application negatively affects beneficial insects, spiders and birds, thus aggravating
subsequent incidence of pest outbreak. More independent and robust basic research is
needed on the impacts of pesticides particularly with regards to the long-term effect of pesticide
formulations and their metabolites, and on synergistic effects of multiple residues on human
health and on ecosystems. In the absence of full information the pre-cautionary principle
requires that pesticides are not permitted to be used if scientifically robust studies indicate
unacceptable risks, and that action is taken to reduce overall pesticide exposure.
Farmers do not apply pesticides without reason but in order to ensure productivity, to manage
entrepreneurial risks and to compete in the market in terms of quality and price. Pesticide use
is often cheaper than using alternatives like biocontrol or mechanical pest and weed
management. Traders, retailers and consumers expect cheap and visually perfect products.
The amount of pesticides needed to protect crops depends on the robustness of the farming
system. Over the past decades diversity in farming systems has been greatly reduced in terms
of crops and varieties grown as well as in natural habitats. In order to succeed with pesticide
reduction it is therefore essential to bring diversity back into agriculture. Farming systems need
to be redesigned or adjusted based on the available knowledge on agro-ecology. Suitable
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agronomic practices like crop rotation and the use of resistant varieties are key preventive
measures. Breeding strategies are needed to create robust varieties that facilitate the
introduction of agro-ecological farming systems at large scale. In addition, farmers need to
avail of various means to effectively manage pests, diseases and weeds. Biocontrol, the use
of botanical extracts and other organic farming methods offer promising options and need to
be strengthened. More public research is needed in order to advance the design of better
farming systems and the development of alternatives to synthetic pesticides.
Agro-ecology, integrated pest management and the use of alternatives need to be integrated
in vocational education, training and technical advice to farmers. Best practice from different
approaches need to be identified in order to design more resilient farming systems and better
management practices. As farmers mainly learn from practical experience it is important to
demonstrate alternatives in plot trials and pilot farms and to facilitate the exchange of know-
how. In addition it is important that farmers are made aware of the risks associated with
pesticide use and get equipped with feasible measures to reduce these risks.
Pesticide reduction is a shared responsibility of the overall society, including scientists,
farmers, consumers, governments and the private sector. Food brands, processors and
retailers take a crucial role in increasing the demand for low- or no-pesticide products which is
an essential driver for pesticide reduction. They can demand that their suppliers do not use
hazardous pesticides and that measures are taken to gradually reduce pesticide use. They
are well placed to promote resistant varieties and to raise awareness among consumers. An
increase in demand for organic products and for products from integrated production
significantly contributes to reduce pesticide use. Increasing the product range and the sales of
organic products is therefore an important contribution to pesticide reduction. In addition,
brands and retailers can convert entire products to compliance with minimum sustainability
standards that address pesticide use to some extent. There is a need for more awareness
raising among consumers with regard to what is “good food” - a product that is safe, healthy,
tasty, good for the environment and good for those who produce it, but not necessarily visually
perfect. Fact-based information on pesticide issues and on ways to reduce pesticide use and
risks also needs to be conveyed to scientists, government offices, public health and consumer
organisations, the management of relevant companies, investors etc. so that all stakeholder
pull in the same direction.
Governments have a range of policy instruments to find a responsible balance between
enabling judicious pesticide use where needed, and reducing the adverse health,
environmental and agronomic risks. When health and environmental costs are factored in,
pesticide application is only economical at a much lower threshold than what is commonly
practiced. A pesticide tax is therefore a worthwhile tool to internalize and minimize externalities
of pesticide use. However, to be effective, the tax needs to differentiate between levels of
toxicity or hazard. The income generated through the tax should be used to support
alternatives. Pesticide use is already highly regulated by national legislation and international
conventions and policies. The long-term effects of using multiple pesticides, however, need to
be better understood, and transparency in registration processes needs to be improved in
order to allow informed weighing of risks against benefits of pesticides. By revisiting
regulations and policies governments can set a conducive environment for pesticide reduction.
The development of national action plans to reduce pesticide risks is an important opportunity
for reducing externalities and for promoting alternatives. They can enhance enforcement of
existing legislation and boost efforts and innovations. It is important, however, that action plans
include binding and measurable reduction goals as well as milestones to get there.
Introduction
In recent months pesticides received increased attention in the media: New research results
indicate that pesticides increase the risk of severe health problems like cancer, Parkinson,
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dementia, diabetes and other diseases. The International Agency for Research on Cancer
(IARC) of the World Health Organization classified the most commonly used herbicide
glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic”, which initiated a heated discussion. Multiple pesticide
residues are found in food, drinking water, surface water, breast milk and urine. Systemic
pesticides (neonicotinoids) could be responsible for the collapse of bee colonies. Pesticides
contribute to loss of biodiversity etc.
Debates around pesticides are usually highly polarized, with opponents demanding an
immediate ban of pesticides because they are not safe, and proponents arguing that we cannot
maintain food production without pesticides. As a consequence of this deadlock progress to
address pesticide issues is slow and fragmented.
What pesticide use would be desirable for society?
For society as a whole, the ultimate goal should be to manage pests in a way that allows
sustainable crop production, without negative impacts on environment and human health. It
would be desirable that pesticides were only used when inevitable and with the least level of
side effects. In economic terms, the negative externalities (i.e. the impact on health and
environment and the costs to avoid them) should at least not be higher than the value
generated by using pesticides (i.e. yield increase and net cost reduction). Current pesticide
use is often far higher than what this equation suggests. It is therefore reasonable to combine
all available know-how and forces in order to identify pathways for gradual reduction of
pesticide use.
Purpose of this paper
This paper shall provide orientation and guidance to a broad range of stakeholders including
policy makers on how pesticide use can be reduced at a global level. Part I of this paper
provides a brief overview on current facts and issues related to pesticides and on available
strategies and policy instruments to reduce and regulate their use. It largely builds on recent
publications that elaborate on this topic in much detail based on comprehensive literature
reviews (see References). Part II of this paper will summarize the conclusions of a symposium
on pesticide reduction held on 3 September 2015 in Zurich, Switzerland. In this symposium a
broad range of stakeholders from science, civil society, private sector and government discuss
the need and feasibility of pesticide reduction and concrete action to get there.
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PART I: OVERVIEW ON ISSUES, APPROACHES AND
POLICIES RELATED TO PESTICIDE REDUCTION
1. Pesticide use in agriculture What are the issues?
1.1. Current use of pesticides in agriculture
Pesticides are used to protect crops and livestock from various pests, diseases, competition
from weeds and parasites, thus contributing to increased agricultural production. They help
farmers to reduce production costs and risks, and to survive in a highly competitive market.
Global pesticide use has grown over the past 20 years to 3.5 billion kg active ingredients per
year, amounting to a global market worth $45 billion (1). A significant portion of the chemicals
applied has proved to be excessive, uneconomic or unnecessary both in industrialized and
developing countries (2). While some countries reduced pesticide use over the past two
decades (particularly UK, France, Denmark and Japan), in most regions it considerably
increased (1). In Switzerland, pesticide sales are more or less stable at 2’120 tons of active
ingredients in 2013 (3). The volume alone, however, does not necessarily reflect the impact of
pesticides used, as older products are often replaced by substances that have more effect at
lower doses.
What type of pesticides are used
Herbicides account for 42%, insecticides 27%, fungicides 22% and disinfectants and other
agrochemicals 9% of global pesticide sales. In Switzerland, fungicides have the highest share
(47%), followed by herbicides (35%) and insecticides (17%) (3). Herbicides dominate the North
American and European domestic markets where they are also used to synchronize ripening
of crops, but insecticides are more commonly used elsewhere in the world (1). Pesticide use
intensity is highest in vegetable, fruit and cotton production.
Today's most used herbicide glyphosate was introduced in combination with genetically
modified herbicide-tolerant (HT) crops in the late 1990s. Presently, glyphosate formulations
(e.g. Roundup) account for more than 50% of total herbicide use (4) and are applied on more
than 80% of the genetically modified crops (5). The use of herbicides allows for methods like
low- and zero-tillage that reduce soil erosion. However, serious concerns are increasingly
raised due to the development of herbicide-resistant weeds.
1.2. Pesticides and health
Pesticides can have adverse effects to human health - acute but also chronic. While there are
no accurate data available on acute pesticide poisoning due to occupational and accidental
exposure most estimates are in the range of several million cases per year (6). Acute pesticide
poisoning is a serious problem in developing countries and emerging economies, where many
farmers use highly hazardous products, often without adequate protective measures. The
harms in actual conditions of use are experienced disproportionately by the poor and
disadvantaged (2). Replacing highly hazardous pesticides such as endosulfan and paraquat
with less toxic ones, and training farmers on proper handling of pesticides are expected to
reduce acute poisoning. However, despite official adoption of the FAO/WHO International
Code of Conduct on the Distribution & Use of Pesticides in 1985, there is evidence from the
field that, especially in developing countries, pesticides still pose a serious threat to human
health and the environment. Sadly enough, pesticide poisoning also plays today an important
role as a mean of suicide (7).
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Exposure to pesticides
In Europe and North America the focus of concern has generally shifted to chronic effects due
to low-level exposures (8). Farmers and pesticide applicators are particularly prone to adverse
effects due to their direct exposure to pesticides at work. In addition, in agricultural areas where
pesticides are heavily used, the population nearby is also at risk. Pesticides drift in the air,
pollute soil and water resources and can thus contaminate large areas. The widest exposure
to pesticides, however, is through residues in food. Exposure is presented as multiple mixtures
of chemicals, the toxic effect of which are unknown, particularly over longer time scales (9). In
some cases these substances can interact such that mixtures may have unpredictable and
higher toxicities than the individual components themselves (10). Most research on pesticides
is done on the active ingredient. So-called inert ingredients in pesticide formulations that
enhance the effect of the active ingredient, however, can also cause substantial health effects
(11). In addition, metabolites of active and inert ingredients can be of even higher toxicity than
the original substances (10).
Fruits and vegetables frequently have the highest levels of pesticide residues food items that
are generally eaten because they are deemed healthy. But also animal products contain
pesticide residues that accumulate from feed or from treatment against parasites, or, in the
case of fish and seafood, through bioaccumulation in the aquatic food web systems (12).
Studies have shown that people consuming an organic diet may be expected to have
consistently lower pesticide intakes than those who consume a conventional diet (13).
Health hazards due to low-level, long-term exposure to pesticides
The literature on health effects of pesticides at general exposure levels is inconclusive, and
more research is definitely needed (14) (15). While most industry-financed research suggests
that pesticides imply few health risks if they are properly used, there are hundreds of scientific
studies published in renowned journals that point out serious health hazards (10) (16). Though
there are inherent problems in conducting large-scale experiments and directly assessing
causation of these human health problems, the statistical associations between exposure to
certain pesticides and the incidence of some diseases are compelling and cannot be ignored
(12). Moreover, some persons have an inherent genetic susceptibility to the health effects of
pesticide exposure and are therefore likely to be more at risk than others.
Increased risk for cancer and damage to the nervous system
There is widespread evidence that exposure to certain pesticides is a significant additional risk
factor in many chronic diseases, including different forms of cancer, neurodegenerative
diseases and disruptions of the digestive system (10), (12). Various studies among farmers,
farm workers and their families showed increased incidences of several types of cancer, such
as lymphatic and blood system, lip, stomach, prostate, brain, testes, skin cancers and soft
tissue sarcoma (17), (18), (14). The International Agency for Research on Cancer recently
classified the widely used herbicide glyphosate as probably carcinogenic to humans (19).
Several studies found that exposure to pesticides is statistically associated with an increased
risk of developing Parkinson’s disease (20) (21) and Alzheimer’s disease (22). Whilst aging
almost certainly represents the greatest risk factor, low-dose/long-term exposures to
pesticides have been implicated as a further factor. Other studies found that chronic low-level
exposure to certain pesticides may be related to adverse effects on brain functioning, including
changes in attention, speech, sight, memory and emotional aspects (23), (24).
Effects on immune and hormone system
There is circumstantial evidence that pesticide exposure is associated with disruption in the
immune system (25), and hormone imbalances (26), (27). These effects may increase the risk
for diseases such as obesity and diabetes, autoimmune diseases or reproductive problems.
Exposure to certain insecticides may also contribute to the increasing incidence of food
allergies in westernized societies (28). Some studies showed that impacts may be extremely
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long-term as pesticides can disrupt gene expression and impact the following generations not
directly exposed to pesticides (12).
Effects of prenatal and infant exposure
Unborn and young children are in particular vulnerable to pesticide exposure due to the high
rate of growth and complex development processes, the higher dose per body weight and the
lower level of detoxifying enzymes compared to adults. Children themselves employed in
agricultural work, as often the case particularly in developing countries, are particularly
vulnerable to the toxic effects of pesticides. Numerous studies reported for children exposed
to high levels of pesticides a delay in their cognitive development, behavioural effects and birth
defects (12), (10). A study in California, US, found that high levels of organophosphorus
pesticides in mother’s urine were statistically associated with poorer intellectual development
and deficits in working memory in the children when they reached 7 years of age (29). These
cognitive effects occurred in children whose mother’s urine had levels of organophosphate
pesticides that were near the upper end of the range typically found across the general US
population. Another study reported that children with higher urinary pesticide levels, mainly
from diet, were more likely to be diagnosed with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
(30).
1.3. Pesticides and the environment
A large part of the pesticides applied to crops are either taken up by the plants and animals or
are degraded by microbial or chemical pathways. A considerable fraction of the amount
applied, however, is dispersed into the environment, by air drift, leaching and run-off so that
they are found in soils, surface and ground water (31). Pesticides in freshwater supplies have
become a serious and increasingly costly concern, with detected levels often exceeding the
set limits (in the EU: 0.1 μg l1 for any individual active ingredient, or 0.5 μg l1 for total
pesticides). In Switzerland, 70% of surface waters had pesticide levels above the official limit
(32). Pesticides are now found in every habitat on earth and are routinely detected in both
marine and terrestrial animals (33).
Reduced biodiversity and ecosystem services
There is substantial published literature on the effects of pesticides on wildlife and biodiversity.
Pesticide use has particularly contributed to the declines in the populations of birds, insects,
amphibians and aquatic communities (34), (35), (36) (37). The effect is either direct through
exposure, or indirect through a reduction in food availability. The widespread use of systemic
pesticides that are absorbed by the crops is predicted to result in substantial impacts on
biodiversity and ecosystem functioning (38). Studies have shown that systemic insecticides
from the group of neonicotinoids can trigger the collapse of bee colonies, thus reducing their
function as pollinators (39). Widespread and continued herbicide application eliminates plant
species in fields and bordering areas that provide food and shelter to beneficial insects, spiders
and birds. The effects of pesticides are enhanced by loss of habitat due to industrial farming
methods.
Aggravated pest problems
Pesticide use reduces populations of insects, spiders and birds that naturally control pests. As
pests usually recover faster than their predators, pesticide use can aggravate subsequent
incidence of pest outbreak. In some cases reduced populations of beneficial insects due to
overuse of pesticides contributed to the rise of pests that previously were of minor importance.
Cotton and rice are two historical examples of induced pest problems by mismanagement and
overuse of insecticides. Another growing concern is that pests and weeds increasingly develop
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resistance to pesticides. New pesticides are developed or combinations of pesticides are used
in order to control them, resulting in additional costs and new side effects.
1.4. Economics of pesticide use
Pesticide application in agriculture has obvious short-term economic benefits otherwise
farmers would not use them. They may reduce the costs of production (e.g. by using herbicides
instead of mechanical weeding) or reduce crop loss due to pest or disease infestation.
However, pesticides also cause costs to society in terms of health and environmental costs.
These external costs are not (yet) reflected in the market price of pesticides. They include
health costs to humans (acute and long-term effects), costs of adverse effects on biodiversity
(loss of beneficial insects, pollinators and wildlife), drinking water treatment costs, losses in
aquaculture and fisheries, and costs of greenhouse gas emissions during pesticide
manufacturing. Due to methodological difficulties and lack of data it is extremely difficult to
quantify external costs of pesticide use. Estimates are in the range of US$4-19 per kg active
ingredient, or $19-106 per ha cropland (1). With some 3.5 billion kg applied worldwide, this
would suggest annual costs of $10-60 billion, for a market size of $45 billion.
However, these estimates do not account for the health effects of chronic exposure to
pesticides described in chapter 1.2. If only a small fraction of the occurrence of certain
diseases like cancer, dementia, diabetes and behavioural disorders can be attributed to
pesticides, their external costs would be far higher. In addition, stockpiles of obsolete
pesticides exist in many of the least developed countries and are a particularly high risk in
situations of political instability. The root causes of the accumulation of these wastes are poor
pesticide regulation and management; and over-reliance on chemical pesticides as a first
option for pest control. Disposal of obsolete stocks is an extremely expensive undertaking
which poses an economic burden on the governments and societies.
Factoring-in health and environmental costs
The question at hand is not to weigh the total benefits of pesticides against their total external
costs in order to decide on whether or not to ban them completely a rather theoretical
scenario. More important is to assess to what extent pesticides can be reduced so that the
costs of that change (in terms of lower yields or higher production costs) is compensated by
an equal reduction in external costs. When health and environmental costs are factored in,
pesticide application is only economical at a much lower threshold than what is commonly
practiced. In addition, evidence from introducing Integrated Pest Management (IPM) suggests
that in a majority of cases pesticides can be reduced through better management practices
without substantially reducing yields or increasing costs. The concept of economic thresholds
balances the value of crops lost to pests or diseases with the costs of pesticide treatments.
2. Strategies available for pesticide reduction
Ideally, agricultural systems should be designed in a way that pests, diseases and weeds do
not build up to a level that they cause significant damage to the crop. Suitable agronomic
practices, the use of resistant varieties, and Integrated Pest Management are key preventive
measures. Bio control and the use of natural substances can complement these efforts. The
safe application of minimal toxic synthetic pesticides should be used as a last resort. The
following chapters provide an overview of applied approaches. In practice, they are
overlapping and are often combined.
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2.1. Agronomic practices
Suitable agronomic practices are essential to achieve healthy crops and to prevent build-up of
pest, disease and weed pressure (40). The following practices are of particular importance:
Appropriate plant nutrition and soil fertility management based on organic matter forms
the basis for healthy crops that are less susceptible to pests, diseases and weeds;
Crop rotation prevents the carryover of pest, pathogen and weed populations to the
following season;
Intercropping and the use of variety mixtures limits the spread of pests and diseases
and provides food and shelter for natural enemies of pests;
Timely shallow tillage reduces weed populations and at the same time improves
nutrient supply to the crop;
Appropriate irrigation management avoids water stress (too little or too much water)
that makes crops susceptible to pests and diseases and reduces proliferation of
weeds;
Appropriate timing of sowing or planting and of intercultural operations reduce pest
pressure.
Precision farming like spraying of hot-spots and weeding with optical detectors.
2.2. Resistant crops
Crops and crop varieties differ in their susceptibility to pests and diseases and in their ability
to compete with weeds. Growing crops suitable for local conditions and selecting appropriate
crop varieties is therefore fundamental to a preventive pest management system. The use of
resistant varieties together with rotations of non-susceptible crops can substantially limit pest
build-up within a field (8). While breeding for insect, disease and nematode pest resistance is
well known, much less effort has been focused on breeding crops for greater weed
suppressiveness. Resistance in crop varieties can be achieved by traditional breeding
methods like crossing and selection as well as through genetic engineering. In both cases an
identified resistance is incorporated into a plant with high yield potential and other favourable
agronomic characteristics. Collections of traditional varieties and wild relatives are often a
good source of useful resistance genes. Traditional plant breeding, however, takes time and
results are only visible after years. Resistance may not be lasting as pests and diseases can
adapt to the new crop. The wider the genetic base of resistance, the more likely is it to last.
Gene technology to breed resistant varieties
Marker assisted breeding and genetic engineering can speed up this process (41). Gene
editing based on the CRISPR system (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic
repeats) allows with high precision to introduce specific genes into varieties. The most
important insect resistant crops produced by genetic engineering carry genes of the soil
bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). These genes induce the crop to produce a protein (Bt-
toxin) that is toxic to specific insects that feed on the crop. However, the most widely used
genetically engineered crops today are those resistant to herbicides like glyphosate (42). The
herbicide is harmless to the modified crop and thus 'non-selective' herbicides can be used to
remove all other plants in a field. It is currently not evident whether the use of genetically
modified organisms (GMO) so far has reduced pesticide application (43). Critics point out
unwanted side effects on beneficial insects and other non-target organisms and to a narrowing
of genetic crop diversity (44).
2.3. Bio-control and natural pesticides
Bio-control makes use of pathogens (bacteria, fungi, viruses), insect predators or parasitoids,
pheromones and insect traps to keep pest populations low (2). The total eradication of a pest,
which results from the use of synthetic pesticides, would reduce the food supply of the pest’s
natural enemies, undermining a key element in system resilience. The aim, therefore, should
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be to manage insect pest populations to the point where natural predation operates in a
balanced way and crop losses to pests are kept to an acceptable minimum (40). The most
widely used bio-control methods are:
Conservation and augmentation of natural enemies of pests through flower strips,
hedge rows and other natural habitats;
Release of predators and parasitoids of pests such as Trichogramma, lady bird
beetles, lacewings and predatory mites;
Sprays with pathogens of pests such as Bacillus thuringiensis, Beauvaria,
Trichoderma and nematode species;
Pheromone dispensers to disrupt mating of pests;
Traps like sticky coloured boards, pheromone traps and light traps to catch insect
pests.
Natural pesticides
Various plant extracts and other natural materials are used that repel pests, reduce their
feeding or reproductive activities, reduce proliferation of diseases or act as biopesticides.
Some of them, however, also have unwanted side effects. Most commonly used natural
pesticides are:
Neem, the extract of the seeds of a tree common in tropical and sub-tropical areas,
reduces proliferation of insect pests while having little impact on beneficial insects;
Pyrethrum, the extract of a chrysanthemum species, decomposes rapidly in the
environment, but affects beneficial insects and is toxic to aquatic life;
Copper is widely used to control for fungal diseases, but it accumulates in the soil;
Sulphur, soap and paraffinic oil preparations are used to control mites, aphids and
other pests, but they also affect beneficial insects.
2.4. Integrated Pest Management
The FAO defines Integrated Pest Management (IPM) as the careful consideration of all
available pest control techniques and subsequent integration of appropriate measures that
discourage the development of pest populations and keep pesticides and other interventions
to levels that are economically justified and reduce or minimize risks to human health and the
environment (45). IPM is an ecosystem approach that does not seek to eradicate pests - but
rather to manage them. It is founded on the idea that the first and most fundamental line of
defence against pests and diseases in agriculture is a healthy agro-ecosystem, in which the
biological processes that underpin production are protected, encouraged and enhanced (40).
The approach is knowledge-intensives and requires a broad understanding of the specific
crop, its pests (including weeds) and their natural enemies. Strong focus is on pest prevention
by applying good agronomic practices and using resistant varieties, pest identification and
monitoring and biological pest control. As soon as the economic threshold is achieved - the
point at which the cost of pesticide use pays off (cost of expected loss in harvest exceeds the
cost of treatment) - chemical pest control becomes profitable. The last step includes learning
and adapting from IPM for the next crop season.
Pesticide reduction without yield loss
In the global South IPM techniques are often promoted through Farmer Field Schools (FFS)
in which a group of farmers frequently meets to share field observations and exchange
experience. Through IPM-FFS rice farmers in the Philippines reduced pesticide application
frequency and applications per hectare by 70%, increased yields by 12% and increased the
inter-year stability of yields (1). Many examples across the world demonstrate that IPM can
reduce pesticides while increasing the profitability for farmers. Integrated Production (IP), such
as the label IP-Suisse, builds on IPM in their production guidelines.
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2.5. Agroecology
Agroecology is a discipline that defines, classifies and studies agricultural systems from an
ecological and socio-economic perspective, and applies ecological concepts and principles to
the design and management of sustainable agroecosystems (46). It is an integrative way of
farming that focuses on working with and understanding the interactions between plants,
animals, humans and the environment. In Agroecology pest control seeks to reinforce
interactions of pests and natural enemies with the aim to maintain a natural balance in the
ecosystem (47). While there is no consent on what techniques and inputs are compatible with
agroecology the common denominator is to make use of biodiversity-based ecological
processes to optimize agricultural production systems.
Agroecology is gaining momentum
The increasingly high profile of agroecology is reflected in the growing body of evidence on
high- performing agroecological management practices (48). A study examined 40 initiatives
employing agroecological production methods in 20 countries, involving 10.4 million farmers
(49). Analysis of project outcomes demonstrated not only an average crop yield increase of
113% compared to conventional systems, but also numerous environmental benefits, including
carbon sequestration and reductions in pesticide use and soil erosion. Agroecological
strategies like crop diversification, animal integration, soil organic management and water
conservation are also expected to reduce vulnerabilities of farming systems and rural
communities to climate change (50).
A particularly useful application of agroecology is the Push-Pull method introduced in Eastern
Africa to control stem borer and striga weed in maize production (51). Farmers use Napier
grass and desmodium legume as intercrops in their maize fields. Desmodium produces a smell
that repels the maize stemborer - the push component, whereas Napier grass planted around
the maize field acts as a trap plant for the stemborer - the pull component and is also used
as animal fodder. In addition, desmodium suppresses Striga weeds while fixing valuable
nitrogen to the soil.
2.6. Organic agriculture
Organic agriculture is a production system that sustains the health of soils, ecosystems and
people. It relies on ecological processes, biodiversity and cycles adapted to local conditions,
rather than the use of inputs with adverse effects (52). Organic standards strictly prohibit any
use of synthetic pesticides. Crop protection in organic agriculture builds on good agronomic
practices such as crop rotation and intercropping, the use of organic manures, resistant
varieties and bio-control to prevent that pest, diseases and weeds cause significant damage.
Organic farming makes use of techniques similar to Integrated Pest Management and
agroecology, with the only difference that synthetic chemicals cannot be used as a last resort.
Instead, organic farmers can use specific natural substances permitted by organic standards
to control pests and diseases if preventive methods are not sufficient. Some of them, however,
also have unwanted side effects on non-target organisms. Particularly the use of copper to
control fungal diseases is problematic due to its accumulation in soils.
Limited yield reduction
Diversified organic systems can be more productive than monocropping, particularly in tropical
regions where they often contribute to improved food security and livelihoods (53). At global
level, however, yields in organic crops and systems tend to be 10-18% lower than in
conventional agriculture (54). As the main reason for lower yields is probably related to nutrient
management, the yield reduction effect of not using synthetic pesticides is likely to be in the
range of maximum 5-8% on average. In specific crops like vegetables and fruits and for specific
pests and diseases, however, organic farmers still face considerable challenges. More
research is needed to identify suitable organic solutions for these cases.
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2.7. Use of less hazardous pesticides
There are various systems to classify pesticides as per their toxicity for humans and the
environment. Phasing out the use of highly hazardous pesticides and replacing them with less
hazardous ones is therefore the most obvious way to reduce the negative side-effects of
pesticides (55). This approach needs to be combined with safe handling of pesticides so that
their impact on people and the environment is minimized. The use of protective gear and the
observation of waiting periods before harvest are the most important measures in this regard.
However, in many countries the lack of information, unavailability of protective equipment and
its impracticality in hot and humid climates result in low adoption rates (8).
3. Policies to reduce pesticide use and risks
3.1. International policies and instruments
International codes, treaties, conventions, commissions and advisory bodies play an important
role in for plant protection and pesticide management. Through the ratification of international
conventions, governments accept obligations to incorporate them into national policies. The
following international policies and instruments are most relevant with regard to reducing the
risk associated with pesticide use.
The Rotterdam Convention covers international trade in hazardous chemicals (most
of them being pesticides) with the aim of protecting human health and the environment.
If all parties agree that a specific pesticide constitutes severe health or environmental
hazards it can be listed for prior informed consent procedures. They require exporting
countries of these chemicals to notify importing authorities on data of known hazards.
As any party can veto the listing of a pesticide the process is rather slow. Currently the
convention lists 33 pesticides.
The Stockholm Convention aims to eliminate or restrict the production and use of
persistent organic pollutants (POPs), some of which are pesticides. Based on a
specified review process pesticides that fulfil the criteria for POPs can be listed for
elimination or restriction.
The International Code of Conduct on Pesticide Management is a voluntary
framework that has been endorsed by the FAO Members, and supported by key
pesticide industry associations and civil society organizations (55). It became a role
model to the development of pesticide legislation, and the major pesticide companies
have agreed to abide by the Code of Conduct.
The Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) is a
voluntary policy framework and strategy facilitated by UNEP to promote chemical
safety around the world. It brings together stakeholders and sectors that include
agriculture, environment, health, industry, labour, economics, science and academia
to catalyse achievement of the goal by 2020 “that chemicals are used and produced in
ways that minimize adverse effects on human health and the environment.”
The Joint Meeting on Pesticide Residues (JMPR) is an expert ad hoc body
administered jointly by FAO and WHO with the purpose of harmonizing the
requirement and the risk assessment on the pesticide residues. It recommends
maximum residue levels in food and feed commodities and provides guidance on
pesticide product quality parameters for regulatory and trade purposes.
3.2. National legislation and policies
The role of governments is to find a responsible balance between enabling judicious pesticide
use where such use is necessary to achieve desirable crop production levels, and reducing
15
the adverse health, environmental and agronomic risks (8). Governments have a range of
policy instruments to influence this balance. Pesticide legislation and registration offers
possibilities for regulating the availability and use of pesticides. The use of dangerous products
can be banned or restricted to certain crops, users or circumstances. Governments have the
opportunity and power to make budget allocations on the enforcement of pesticide legislation,
for monitoring of pesticides residues in food and drinking water, and for research into the side-
effects of pesticides use.
Various instruments are available
Public health policies may address pesticide residues in food and drinking water, and risks
associated with the storage, transport and disposal of pesticides. Environmental policies on
water quality, nature conservation and biodiversity can also influence the availability and use
of pesticides. In addition there are financial instruments to provide incentives or disincentives
for certain practices in crop production. This could be pesticide taxes or import tariffs, but also
financial incentives for the development and use of alternative pest management approaches
and products, and support for the local manufacture of such products. Pesticide-use fees or
pesticide taxes may be used to finance the development of alternative pest management
practices and subsidize their adoption. Equally important is to address factors that foster
unnecessary pesticide use, such as pesticide subsidies, pesticide application
recommendations by agricultural extension services or possible conflicts of interest affecting
regulatory authorities, research and extension (56).
Phasing out, phasing in
More and more countries, both industrialized and developing, are phasing out highly
hazardous pesticides, while encouraging less hazardous pest management approaches and
products (8). Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and biological control programmes are
increasingly recognized and promoted as viable alternatives. Several countries have set IPM
targets or declared IPM as the preferred approach to pest management. However, many
developing countries are still facing various constraints to the effective enforcement of their
regulatory systems. Available financing and human resources for the control of pesticides are
very small.
3.3. Pesticide action plans
In 2009 the European Union Commission passed a directive that requires all member countries
to adopt National Action Plans (NAPs) to set up their quantitative objectives, targets, measures
and timetables to reduce risks and impacts of pesticide use on human health and the
environment and to encourage the development and introduction of Integrated Pest
Management and of alternative approaches or techniques in order to reduce dependency on
the use of pesticides (57). In 2013, the Pesticide Action Network (PAN) Europe has undertaken
an analysis of all the NAPs that Member States have developed to comply with the EU
Directive (58). They concluded that Member States’ ambition to reduce pesticides use is
extremely low due to:
Lacking quantitative objectives, targets, and clear timetables for pesticide use
reductions;
Recycling what is already mandatory from other EU policies, without proposing new
actions;
Indicators for pesticide use reductions or conversion towards more use of non-
chemical techniques are replaced by ‘soft’ targets (number of training hours, number
of guidelines developed, number of certificates issued) unable to measure the effective
change.
Two countries stand out as progressive examples with regard to pesticide reduction policies:
Denmark and Sweden (58).
16
Denmark introduced its first pesticide reduction plan in 1986 to protect the ground
water that is consumed directly without any purification treatment. Since that time,
Denmark has banned specific pesticides when it was proved that they reached ground
water. In 1999, an expert committee prepared a report on reduction of pesticide use. It
recommended a reduction goal implemented through a three-pronged strategy:
covering spraying-free zones, organic farming, and general use reduction through new
technology and better farming practises. The recommendations, however, have only
partly been implemented, and the goal has still not been reached. Nevertheless, the
early introduction of a pesticide policy has led to the result that Danish products
(especially fruit and vegetables) have residue levels of pesticides below the EU
average today. In July 2013, Denmark introduced a pesticide tax on insecticides linked
to environmental and health hazards.
Sweden has the overall objective of becoming a non-toxic environment. The Swedish
National Action Plan contributes to this objective by further expanding on this goal
through the following objectives:
Concentrations of pesticides in surface and ground water should be close to zero;
Pesticide residues in vegetables grown in Sweden should be low and not pose risks
to the consumer;
Development of sustainable farming systems, which includes alternative methods
and techniques, will be developed and applied to a greater extent in order to reduce
the dependence on chemical pesticides, as well as a specific target for organic
agriculture.
The Swedish NAP defines detailed objectives, monitoring procedures and actions in a
broad range of areas.
Swiss National Action Plan under development
The Swiss Federal Council mandated its administration to develop a National Action Plan on
Pesticides by end of 2016. The Federal Office for Agriculture (BLW) initiated expert groups to
formulate objectives and measures for pesticide risk reduction and organized workshops with
interested stakeholder groups. A group of Swiss environmental organisations (WWF,
Greenpeace, Pro Natura and BirdLife) demand that the government formulates concrete
pesticide reduction targets in its National Action Plan. They elaborated a guidance document
with nine demands addressed to the Swiss government (59).
3.4. Private sector and civil society initiatives
The growing consumer desire for safe and wholesome food and a similar demand from
investors’ side, motivated the food sector to proactively respond with more critical attention
being paid to the crop production practices of their suppliers (8). Some of the largest players
in the market now actively pursue internal policies to reduce safety risks through supply chain
management. They often demand from their suppliers that certain production protocols are
followed, including more sustainable pest management and more responsible pesticide
management. The GLOBALGAP initiative of supermarket chains and their suppliers is an
example of this approach (http://www.globalgap.org). A similar initiative is the Sustainable
Agriculture Initiative (SAI) of a group of food processing companies, which promotes the
sustainable use of production resources to safeguard their long-term economic availability
(http://www.saiplatform.org). Another response to consumer demand for safe and sustainable
products is the broad range and increasing market shares of products carrying sustainability
labels (see http://www.isealalliance.org). Most of them address pesticide use to some extent,
ranging from a total ban of synthetic pesticides in organic labels to rather vague formulations
of objectives that are difficult to monitor or enforce.
Civil society initiatives
17
There are several civil society organisations and initiatives dedicated to the reduction of
pesticide hazards. The most important one among them is the Pesticide Action Network (PAN)
that involves over 600 participating nongovernmental organizations, institutions and
individuals in over 90 countries working to replace the use of hazardous pesticides with
ecologically sound and socially just alternatives. PAN was founded in 1982 and has five
independent, collaborating Regional Centers that implement its projects and campaigns.
Various environmental organisations worldwide lobby for using less pesticides and raise
awareness among the public.
In Switzerland, the Berne Declaration (EvB) advocates for a global phasing-out of highly
hazardous pesticides, with focus on paraquat. The four main environmental NGOs joined
forces to lobby for concrete pesticide reduction targets in the Swiss National Action Plan.
Consumer organisations and public health organisations also increasingly address the topic.
In May 2015 the Swiss consumer organisation (SKS), Doctors for the environment (AEFU) and
Greenpeace jointly launched a petition to ban the use of glyphosate.
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PART II: CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDED
ACTION
The second part of this briefing paper summarizes the results of a Symposium on pest
reduction held on 3rd September in Zurich, Switzerland. 130 representatives of a broad range
of stakeholders from Switzerland and neighbouring countries discussed the necessity and
feasibility of pesticide reduction and developed a set of proposed action to move towards this
objective. Although the participants came from a wide range of backgrounds and sometimes
conflicting positions the discussions were non-polarized and focussed on shared objectives
and common ground. All statements and proposals included in the following chapters were
made in plenum and were not disputed.
4. Consensus on objectives and strategies
4.1. Broad consensus on objectives
Today there is a consensus among a wide range of stakeholders that pesticide use needs to
be gradually reduced to a level that is effectively required to ensure crop production, and that
risks of pesticide application need to be reduced as far as possible. Stakeholders include
consumers and their organisations, farmers and their organisations, scientists from various
disciplines (agriculture, plant breeding, food safety, health, economy, ecosystems science,
ecotoxicology, aquatic science, food systems, corporate social responsibility etc.), food
brands, processors, retailers, public health organisations, water suppliers, investors,
government offices (agriculture, economy, environment, veterinary and food safety),
beekeepers, biocontrol suppliers, environmental and social advocacy NGOs, development
cooperation organisations, and UN organisations. This provides a strong mandate to policy
makers, value chain actors and to civil society to take appropriate measures.
Reducing the reliance on pesticides
It is widely accepted that we need to reduce reliance on pesticides for agricultural production
in order to reduce unwanted side effects (see chapter 4.2). At the same time it is clear that
pesticide use cannot be phased out entirely in the near future. Most of our current agricultural
systems depend on pesticides for their productivity, for various reasons (see chapter 4.3). In
order to reduce this dependency the design of farming systems needs to be revised to some
extent. However, a step-wise reduction of pesticide use is feasible already within the current
production systems and with the knowledge, technologies and alternatives available today.
Experience across the world shows that pesticide use can be reduced considerably without
unduly reducing yields or increasing costs of production.
Reducing the risks of pesticides used
Given that reducing the reliance on pesticides is the most crucial step, the remaining pesticide
use needs to happen in a way that risks are maintained as low as possible. This requires that
hazardous pesticides are replaced with less hazardous ones. It also requires that pesticides
are used in a way that the risks of negative impact on health and environment are minimized.
Adherence to user instructions, use of protective equipment and observation of buffer zones
and waiting periods need to be ensured.
Phasing out of highly hazardous pesticides
Developing countries and emerging economies are often not able to ensure safe handling of
hazardous pesticides, with severe impacts on human health and environment. A majority of
19
farmers and farm workers does not use adequate protective gear and is not likely to do so in
future. Phasing out of highly hazardous pesticides (HHPs) is therefore absolutely necessary
also in these countries. The international conventions (Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions)
provide a useful framework for this, but are not sufficiently effective due to the veto option by
individual countries. Even if pesticides have been identified to fulfil all criteria for HHP, they
therefore not always get listed under the conventions. Understandably, manufacturers of HHPs
often protect their business interests by taking significant influence on decision makers. It is
therefore important to ensure that decisions are taken in the best interest of society.
4.2. Why is it necessary to reduce pesticides and their risks?
Reducing externalities
There is a large body of scientific evidence that the current use of pesticides has unwanted
side effects on human health and environment. These externalities are particularly grave in
some developing countries and emerging economies because of the widespread use of highly
hazardous pesticides, the low level of awareness on risks and the lack of protective equipment.
But even in countries where strict registration processes are in place and farmers apply
pesticides as prescribed, multiple pesticide residues are found in food and water bodies. The
effects of pesticide residues are difficult to accurately assess due to the large number of active
ingredients and commercially available pesticide formulations, the even larger number of
metabolites that are sometimes more toxic than the original ingredient, and the synergistic
effects of multiple residues. Ecosystems as well as human beings are highly complex and we
struggle to understand all the effects of pesticides, in particular the long-term effects of multiple
residues.
Applying the precautionary principle
In practice it is very difficult to duly assess the risk of pesticides submitted for registration. The
long-term risk of pesticides tend to be underestimated as the knowledge and awareness for
negative effects usually lags behind. When e.g. DDT was introduced it was considered a major
improvement until unwanted side effects became evident. Once hazards are proven the
phasing-out of registered pesticides still may take several years. More research is therefore
needed particularly on the long-term and synergistic effects of pesticides on health and
environment. In the absence of full information the precautionary principle requires that
pesticides are not permitted to be used if scientifically robust studies indicate unacceptable
risks, and that action is taken to reduce overall pesticide exposure. The risk associated with
specific pesticides also needs to be re-assessed if they are widely used, thus exposing a large
number of people and a wide range of ecosystems.
Reducing external costs
The unwanted side effects of pesticide use causes substantial costs to society. These costs
include health costs (of both acute and chronic effects), costs of adverse effects on
ecosystems and their services (e.g. loss of beneficial insects, pollinators and wildlife), and
drinking water treatment costs. Although it is difficult for methodological reasons to accurately
assess external costs of pesticide use, conservative estimates show that these costs are
substantial. At the same time, the benefits of pesticide use in terms of increased yields are
often overestimated.
Consumer expectations concerning residues
Last but not least pesticide reduction is a necessity because most consumers expect that their
food and environments are free from pesticide residues. Surveys show that a majority of
consumers are concerned about pesticide residues. In this sense there is currently a
20
disconnection between market offer and consumer demand. Consumer demand should be a
key determinant for producers, retailers and policy makers.
4.3. Understanding the root causes of the pesticide problem
Understanding why pesticides are used
Farmers do not apply pesticides without reason but in order to ensure productivity, to manage
entrepreneurial risks and to compete in the market in terms of quality and price. Even if farmers
apply good agronomic practices like crop rotation they are confronted with the challenge to
control pests, diseases and weeds in sensitive crops and under difficult weather conditions.
Pesticide use is often cheaper and more effective than using alternatives like biocontrol or
mechanical pest and weed management. Traders, retailers and consumers expect cheap and
visually perfect products. These requirements, however, are disconnected from the
expectation that products shall be safe for health and environment.
Loss of diversity in farming systems
The amount of pesticides needed to protect crops depends on the robustness of the farming
system. If crops are cultivated in locations that are not suitable to their requirements, they are
more susceptible to pests and diseases. Over the past decades diversity in farming systems
has been greatly reduced in terms of crops and varieties grown as well as in natural habitats.
The result is a loss of eco-system services like natural pest control through predators and a
loss of soil fertility, both affecting the robustness of the farming system. In order to succeed
with pesticide reduction it is therefore essential to bring diversity back into agriculture. This
involves moving away from monocultures of single varieties, increasing diversity of crops and
natural habitats, but also increasing the genetic diversity of cultivated varieties.
The legacy of established crop varieties
Over the past decades crop breeding has focused on yields and other output-oriented factors,
but has mostly neglected selection for resistance. Robust traditional varieties have often been
replaced by high-yielding ones that respond well to chemical inputs but are susceptible to pests
and diseases. As most seed companies are now owned by agrochemical companies, seed
providers have limited interest in developing robust varieties. Moreover, consumers are used
to and prefer the established varieties and are reluctant to accept new, more robust ones.
Robust varieties, however, are an essential element in the design of farming systems that rely
less on pesticides.
Role of agro-input providers
The current business model of the agro-input industry is still based on selling pesticides. As
the development and registration of pesticides requires large investments it is currently difficult
to reach consensus on the objective to reduce pesticides or to phase out HHPs. Due to their
marketing power and their role in extension, agro-input manufacturers and traders have
substantial influence on farming practices. Most of them have ventured into developing and
offering biocontrol and other alternative pest control methods. With their control over a large
part of the seed market they also have a unique position in the development of robust varieties.
They could therefore become an important driver in the development of more robust varieties,
alternative pest control inputs and modern technology for precision farming.
Lack of information and awareness
There is a general lack of information and awareness on pesticide issues that needs to be
addressed. Many farmers are not fully aware of the negative effects of pesticide use and on
the availability of alternatives. The same is true for consumers, retailers, policy makers and
even for scientists. It is therefore important that fact-based information is compiled and
disseminated.
21
4.4. How to approach pesticide reduction
It is obvious that there is no single or quick solution to reduce pesticide use and the associated
risks. There is a consensus that pesticide reduction requires a set of changes in current
production systems, value chains and in the policy environment. Three factors are required to
work together (see figure below): availability of and know-how on alternatives, increasing
demand for low-/no-pesticide products and conducive legislation and policies.
Joint responsibility
Pesticide reduction is a joint responsibility that cannot be burdened on the farmer alone.
Pesticide reduction positively affects public goods and reduces costs currently borne by
society. Therefore, the investment of public funds for pesticide reduction is justified. It also is
in the interest of the private sector as it can result in competitive advantage or offer new
business opportunities. Investments of the private sector in the development and promotion of
alternatives is crucial. Pesticide reduction will only succeed if there is collaboration among
different kinds of stakeholders, particularly of stakeholders along the value chain from
producers to consumers.
Addressing trade-offs
When pursuing pesticide reduction it is important to openly address possible trade-offs. It is
most critical to de-couple pesticide use and long term yields. Pesticide reduction is not a
reasonable option for a country if it coincides with substantial reduction of yields and increased
import from places where pesticides are used indiscriminately. Pesticide reduction also needs
to be compatible with the need to secure farm incomes and to keep production risks low. There
are also possible trade-offs between pesticide reduction and other objectives like soil
conservation (no-till farming may require herbicide use) and reducing greenhouse gas
emissions (mechanical weeding may require more energy) that need to be openly discussed.
5. Recommended action
5.1. Enhancing knowledge through research
Understanding the impacts of pesticide use
More independent robust basic research is needed on the impacts of pesticides particularly
with regards to the long-term effect of pesticide formulations and their metabolites and on
synergistic effects of multiple residues on human health and on ecosystems. Ecosystems as
well as human beings are highly complex and we struggle to understand all the effects of
pesticides, in particular the long-term effects of multiple residues. Data on pesticide use and
Promotion Incentives
Enhancing
RESEARCH
on pesticides
and alternatives
Strengthening
KNOW-HOW
on alternatives
Increasing
DEMAND
for low-pesticide
products
Raising public
AWARENESS
on pesticides
Farmers use
less pesticides
Legislation
PUSH PULL
POLICY
22
relevant studies from private companies that are used for registration need to be made
accessible so that they can contribute to the body of knowledge.
Assessing the external costs of pesticide use
The full external costs of pesticide use need to be calculated or estimated in order to set them
in relation with the benefits of pesticide use. This will also help in determining what level of
pesticide use is acceptable for society, and in monitoring progress towards. The introduction
of mechanisms to internalize these costs into the price of pesticides in the form of taxes need
to be evaluated, taking into consideration the specific risks associated with different pesticides.
Re-designing farming systems based on agro-ecology
In order to reduce reliance on pesticides it is crucial to get diversity back into crops, farming
systems and landscapes. Farming systems need to be redesigned or adjusted based on the
available knowledge on agro-ecology. Additional research is required to increase the
understanding of how diversity can be used to protect crops. Farmers need to avail of various
preventive and curative means to effectively manage pests, diseases and weeds (including
management of resistance). Agricultural diversity is enhanced when diverse farming systems
are co-existing in a region (i.e. integrated and organic systems).
Breeding robust varieties
Breeding strategies are needed to create genetic resources that facilitate the introduction of
agro-ecological farming systems at large scale. Considerable progress has been made in
some crops (e.g. scab resistant apple varieties) while the introduction of resistant potato
varieties in the market hasn’t succeeded yet. The use of modern gene-technology-based
breeding techniques can speed up and enhance the development of robust or resistant
varieties.
Advancing alternative crop protection methods
There is a broad consensus that more alternatives are needed that are scalable. Biocontrol
options through augmentation of predators, release of beneficial organisms or application of
microbes still offer an important potential that needs to be used. Botanical extracts and
microorganisms show many beneficial impacts and present a huge opportunity to develop
“safer” active ingredients. However, their potential hazards need to be thoroughly tested in
order to avoid unintended consequences. In order to develop, register and commercialize
these new products considerable investments are needed. New ways of funding the
development of alternative crop protection methods and new business models for crop
protection services are needed.
Funding research and development
Public research is very important to assess impacts of pesticides and to identify and test
alternatives. Unfortunately it is difficult to get funding for research on ecotoxicology, in
particular because results are uncertain. There is already considerable research happening of
which the findings need to be made more visible. In order to make progress in research it is
important to identify priority areas and to join forces of government, private sector (input
manufacturers as well as food brands and retailers) and civil society (e.g. philanthropists).
5.2. Strengthening know-how on alternatives and on safe use
Applying agro-ecology for designing resilient farming systems
Farms that grow locally adopted crops in suitable rotations and with methods enhancing soil
fertility and biodiversity face less pest, disease and weed problems. In order to transfer the
available knowledge to practitioners it is important that agro-ecology is integrated in vocational
education and training curricula. It is worth analysing the experience of France where agro-
23
ecology is currently being mainstreamed in agriculture. Best practice from the different
systems should be identified in order to design more resilient farming systems and better
management practices. Conventional farmers can learn a lot from organic ones (e.g. the use
of biocontrol or botanical sprays), and vice versa (e.g. precision farming techniques like
selective spraying).
Education, training and information for better pest management
Agro-ecology, integrated pest management and the use of alternatives also needs to be
integrated in the work of extension or rural advisory services. They need to become part of the
recommendations on good agricultural practices. In some countries this may require a change
in the business model of extension services in order to make them independent from the sales
of pesticides. As farmers mainly learn from practical experience it is important to demonstrate
alternatives in plot trials and pilot farms and to facilitate the exchange of know-how among
practitioners. In many countries the farmer field school approach has proven quite effective in
this regard. Information and communication technology is available for improving timely access
to know-how and for optimizing crop management (e.g. forecasts of pest and disease pressure
allows better timing of management practices).
Capacity building on safe use
In many developing countries and emerging economies farmers are very far from “safe use”
of pesticides, making the phase out of HHPs an absolute priority. Nevertheless it is important
that farmers are made aware of the risks associated with pesticide use and get equipped with
realistic and feasible measures to reduce these risks. One option could be that farmers need
to undergo a compulsory training on the risks of pesticides, their avoidance, and on safe use
to acquire a permit required to purchase pesticides. This could also become a requirement for
home gardeners also in industrialized countries who usually have less knowledge on these
aspects compared to professional farmers.
5.3. Increasing the demand for low-/no-pesticide products
Food brands, traders, processors and retailers take a crucial role in increasing the demand for
low- or no-pesticide products which is an essential driver for pesticide reduction. The same is
true for the natural textile sector, particularly for cotton. Retailers are well positioned to
translate the demand of consumers to producers, but can also raise awareness among
consumers for how food is produced. Openness for collaboration with the food and fibre
industry and with retailers is therefore crucial to achieve change. Consumer expectations that
food is free of pesticide residues and responsibility for health and environment are important
reasons for processors and retailers to engage in pesticide reduction.
Applying restrictions on hazardous pesticides
Food processors and retailers can enforce that suppliers comply with existing laws and codes.
In addition, they can go a step further by imposing additional restrictions, e.g. prohibiting
pesticides included on the list of highly hazardous pesticides of the Pesticide Action Network
(PAN). They can and should conduct regular residue tests in order to ensure compliance with
their set requirements, and inform their suppliers on the results of these tests.
Introducing resistant varieties in the market
The introduction of more robust or resistant crop varieties strongly depends on whether they
are accepted in the market. Processors and retailers are well placed to promote these
varieties, as the successful introduction of scab resistant apple varieties in Switzerland has
shown. They can also contribute to pesticide reduction by revising their quality requirements
e.g. by tolerating small cosmetic defects. These important measures require pro-active
awareness raising and information of consumers with suitable marketing activities.
24
Promoting sustainability labelled products
Increasing the product range and the sales of organic products is an important contribution to
pesticide reduction. Organic consumption is steadily growing so that promotion of organic
products offers an interesting business opportunity. In addition, brands and retailers can
convert entire products to compliance with minimum sustainability standards such as UTZ
certified, Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance, 4C, Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS), Round
table on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI). These standards
address pesticide use to some extent, mostly by excluding certain hazardous pesticides,
demanding for safety measures (training and safety equipment) and even for IPM. Gradually
strengthening these standards with regard to pesticide reduction and safe use of pesticides
along the measures indicated earlier offers scope for continuous improvement in a significant
segment of consumption. For wider outreach pesticide use and risk reduction should also be
integrated in widely used industry standards such as GlobalGAP and BRC.
Supporting research, capacity building and conversion
Brands and retailers can also play an important role in supporting the development of
knowledge and in capacity building of farmers. Some of them fund research on alternatives,
support IPM training for producers or encourage conversion to more sustainable systems. The
focus is usually on crops and value chains that are known to use a lot of pesticides. Some of
the know-how and technologies can also be transferred to other crops and farming systems.
The food industry can also play an important role in lobbying for better policy frameworks.
5.4. Raising awareness for pesticide issues
Raising awareness among consumers
Consumers may be aware of the risks of pesticides, but not always of the consequences of
their choices. Consumers are rarely aware that the impact of pesticide use on producers in the
South is far worse than the impact on consumers in the North. They should be made more
aware of the health risks associated with unsustainably produced food for the involved farmers
and farm workers. There is a need for more awareness raising among consumers with regard
to what is “good food - a product that is safe, healthy, tasty, good for the environment and
good for those who produce it, but not necessarily visually perfect. This information needs to
be brought to a wider public in order to induce change. New alliances are needed to achieve
this raise in awareness. Governments, science, the health sector, the food industry, the water
sector, environmental groups and media should join forces for this task. One should not scare
people, but inform them, show alternatives, and motivate them to ask and pay for good food.
At the same time one should abstain from calming down consumer fears with regard to
pesticide risks.
Raising awareness among decision makers
Awareness also needs to be raised among decision makers in different fields and sectors. As
indicated earlier pesticide reduction is a joint responsibility and requires that all stakeholder
pull in the same direction. Fact-based information on pesticide issues and on ways to reduce
pesticide use and risks needs to be conveyed to scientists, government offices, public health
and consumer organisations, the management of relevant companies, investors etc. This will
help scientists to integrate pesticide related issues and the search for alternatives into their
research agendas, that governments design and implement conducive policies, that
companies address pesticide issues in their supply chain policies and use opportunities for
alternative business models, and that investors include pesticide issues in their investment
decisions. It also helps to strengthen the link between farmers, consumers, private sector, civil
society and governments. Fortunately everybody is a food consumer and therefore directly
concerned also as an individual.
25
5.5. Revisiting legislation and policies
There is a consensus that policy making needs to be science-based. Experience shows that if
scientists point out risks that have so far been underestimated, they are usually right, but it
often takes years until policy sufficiently reacts. It is therefore important to make information
on pesticide externalities, on the availability of alternatives and on options to reduce pesticides
and their risks available to relevant government authorities. By revisiting regulations and
policies governments can set a conducive environment for pesticide reduction. Policies can
boost efforts and innovations in the private sector also in the field of agricultural production.
Imposed or self-imposed restrictions on pesticide use or sending out the signal to farmers that
certain pesticides will no longer be available in future will foster the search for alternatives.
Pesticide action plans
The development of national action plans to reduce pesticide risks is an important opportunity
for reducing externalities and for promoting alternatives. They can enhance enforcement of
existing legislation and define additional measures. It is important, however, that action plans
include binding and measurable reduction targets as well as milestones to get there. Targets
need to be acceptable to stakeholders and reachable (e.g. tolerable residues instead of zero
residues). If the emphasis is on incentives for alternatives and improved practices rather than
on economic disincentives for current practices the action plan is more likely to meet with broad
acceptance. Voluntary restrictions by the private sector may enble faster results than only
trying to impose restrictions. The main aim should be to advance alternatives through a
combination of regulations and incentives.
Revising the regulatory practice
Current practices for pesticide registration are complex and already cover acute toxicity of
single active ingredients fairly well. Commercially available pesticide formulations may contain
substances that increase the toxicity of the active ingredient. In Switzerland and the EU the
whole formulation is tested for acute toxicity. Additional risk assessment studies are performed
on additives so that those of toxicological concern can be classified. However, metabolites of
ingredients and synergistic or additive effects with other pesticides or with substances naturally
occurring in food items may increase the impact of pesticide exposure. While many studies
are performed for the registration of a new pesticide more research is needed to close certain
gaps particularly in order to better assess the long-term health and environmental risks related
to pesticide exposure. Regulatory practices need to be based on the latest findings, also taking
into consideration the results of independent published research. International codes and
conventions and regional collaboration on legislation and regulation processes provide
valuable guidelines for continuous improvement.
Improving transparency
The toxicity of active ingredients is currently assessed based on studies provided by the
manufacturer. These studies are kept confidential for reason of competition. Weighing risks
against benefits, however, are not only technical but also political decisions involving values.
The underlying information therefore needs to be transparent. Transparency is also needed
with regard to who is involved in decision making so that conflicts of interest can be ruled out.
At EU level data related to the toxicity of active ingredients are now being published in an
online database, but regulatory authorities agree that there is still scope for improvement.
Internalizing external costs
If external costs of pesticide use are integrated in their sales price they become less
economical compared to alternatives. Their use therefore will decrease to some extent, as
experience in Denmark has shown. A pesticide tax is therefore a worthwhile tool to internalize
and minimize externalities of pesticide use. However, to be effective, the tax needs to
differentiate between levels of toxicity or hazard. The income generated through the tax should
26
be used to support alternatives and to cover the costs related to monitoring activities. Where
pesticides still receive subsidies or beneficial treatment like lower value added tax rates their
removal are a necessary first step. As pesticide use is relatively inelastic to price increase,
taxes would need to be substantial in order to have an effect. This may affect political
acceptability of introducing a pesticide tax. Rewarding the non-use of pesticides with a subsidy
or introducing payments for environmental services may be politically easier to introduce.
Supporting the development of alternatives
There is a consensus that more public research is needed in order to advance the design of
better farming systems and the development of alternatives to synthetic pesticides. This
requires that research programs are focused on areas where pesticide reduction is crucial,
and that sufficient funds are made available. As we have seen earlier breeding of resistant
varieties is of high importance for pesticide reduction and should therefore receive sufficient
attention. The registration and market introduction of improved varieties requires substantial
efforts that are worth supporting. Governments could also provide funds for the required testing
and registration of alternative means such as biocontrol and the use of botanical preparations.
Enhancing education, training and advice
As elaborated earlier it is important that vocational education and training integrate the
transmission of knowledge on agro-ecology and on alternative pest management options. In
most countries governments play a crucial role in agricultural education and training and
therefore should ensure that this happens. It is equally important to strengthen advisory
services to farmers that are independent from the agro-chemical industry. Advisory systems
should avail of modern information and communication technology to transmit knowledge and
information to farmers. Early pest and disease prognosis systems, for example, are an
important element in effective advisory systems.
Promoting sustainable farming systems
In organic farming systems the amount of active ingredients applied is greatly reduced
compared to conventional systems. An increase in areas under organic farming would
therefore significantly contribute to the objective of pesticide reduction. It is therefore desirable
for society as a whole that the demand for organic products increases. Similarly, an increase
in market share of products from integrated production or of products meeting sustainability
standards would contribute to reduce pesticide use. Governments can provide incentives to
convert to organic farming or integrated production or can demand that products meet certain
minimum standards. Public procurement of organic, integrated or sustainability labelled
produce can also contribute to raising demand for low- and no-pesticide products, and set
important signals.
Providing information and raising awareness
Broader public awareness on the impact of pesticides is an important factor to increase
demand for low- or no-pesticide products. Governments should therefore support fact-based
consumer information through public media and other suitable means. Information and
awareness raising should already start at school level.
Assessing the risks of pesticides and monitoring progress
More research is needed to better assess and monitor the impact of pesticides on human
health and on ecosystems. Monitoring is also required in order to assess whether the
measures taken in order to reduce pesticide use and risks are effective or need to be adapted.
27
6. Conclusions
Pesticides play a sensitive role in food systems. On the one side they contribute to ensuring
sufficient food production and on the other side they pose risks to food safety, health and
environment. For society as a whole it would be desirable to gradually reduce pesticide use to
a level where negative impacts externalities like health hazards, biodiversity loss or water
pollution at least do not outweigh the value added in terms of yields or cost savings in
production. Today there is a consensus among a wide range of stakeholders that pesticide
use needs to be gradually reduced to a level that is effectively required to ensure crop
production, and that risks of pesticide application need to be reduced as far as possible.
Experience from across the world shows that current pesticide use can be substantially
reduced without jeopardizing production. However, there is no single quick solution available
but a combination of measures is required in order to gradually reduce pesticides and their
associated risks. The amount of pesticides used depends on the resilience of crops and
farming systems. Pesticide reduction therefore requires that farming systems re-integrate
diversity and that available knowledge and alternative technologies are applied. Further efforts
are required to enhance the understanding of farming systems and to develop robust varieties
and alternative means to manage pests, diseases and weeds.
Moving into this direction is a shared responsibility not only of farmers, but also of researchers,
companies, consumers, civil society organisations and governments. Consumer demand and
the engagement of food processors and retailers play important roles in increasing the market
share of products produced with less or without pesticides. There is a need for more
collaboration along the value chain, from consumers to producers. Retailers are positioned at
a crucial interface as they translate the demand of consumers to producers, but are also able
to raise awareness among consumers on how food is produced.
Governments need to adapt or introduce regulations and policies that ensure that pesticide
risks are minimized, that pesticide use is reduced and that alternative systems and methods
are promoted. Regulations and policies need to be based on the latest available knowledge
and decision making processes need to be transparent. Introducing restrictions on pesticide
use and taxes that internalize external costs into the price of pesticides can foster innovation
and the development of alternatives. Research and investments are needed in order to assess
and monitor impacts of pesticide use and to develop alternatives. Governments need to define
roadmaps with clear reduction targets and monitor progress.
28
Annex: Overview of actions proposed
Overview of actions proposed for pesticide reduction (summary result of the symposium on
pesticide reduction of 3rd September 2015 at ETH Zurich).
Know-how and advice (PUSH)
Investment in research on alternatives / diversity /
breeds -> Government / Private Sector
Research in risks of pesticidies (also of alternatives)
and on better risk management
Improve information, training and advice to farmers
Promote GAP, IPM, agroecology, diversity,
biocontrol, locally adapted crops; make use of ICT
Demonstrate alternatives, exchange know-how
Business models for alternative plant protection
Collaboration among stakeholders alongvalue chain
Processing, retail, consumers (PULL)
Informing and motivating consumers on "good food"
(media, schools, home gardeners)
Alliance between research, health, water sector etc.
Introduce resistant varieties in shops
Retailers engage in organic farming and (improved)
labels addressing pesticides
Promotion of "safe" food offers competitive advantage
Strengthen the link between consumers - private
sector - farmers to reduce pesticide use
CSR policies on pesticide risk management / Rating?
Legislation, promotion, incentives (POLICY)
Enforce implementation of existing regulation
Revise pesticide regulation / policies based on latest scientific know-how
Registration: Implement pre-cautionary principle, phase out hazardous pesticides
Incentives (drop subsidies, raise taxes, payments for environmental services,
support for conversion, independent extension, crop risk insurance)
Pesticide tax specific on toxicity, use income for alternatives (see DK model) ->
internalize external costs
Inform governments on pesticide reduction / alternatives
International conventions and regional collaboration on legislation/regulation
Food industry jointly lobbying for better policy frameworks
Public procurement of labelled / "better" produce
29
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... Water and air are easily and highly affected by pesticides. A large part of the pesticides applied to crops are either taken up by the plants and animals or are degraded by microbial or chemical pathways (Frank et al., 2015) [33] . Vorley and Keeney (1998) [119] reported that, a considerable fraction of the amount applied, however, is dispersed into the environment, by air drift, leaching and run-off so that they are found in soils, surface and ground water. ...
... Water and air are easily and highly affected by pesticides. A large part of the pesticides applied to crops are either taken up by the plants and animals or are degraded by microbial or chemical pathways (Frank et al., 2015) [33] . Vorley and Keeney (1998) [119] reported that, a considerable fraction of the amount applied, however, is dispersed into the environment, by air drift, leaching and run-off so that they are found in soils, surface and ground water. ...
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This study investigated the extent of pesticide use and poor handling practices which characterize intensive vegetable farming, among smallholder vegetable farmers in south western Uganda. 100% of respondents were using pesticides for control of pest and diseases, and over 78% applied pesticides on a twice-a-week basis. Majority of farmers used pesticides in violation of recommended procedures/rules; use of unsafe storage facilities, ignore risks and safety instructions, and did not calibrate the spray equipment, and disposed of containers unsafely. Poor pesticide-handling practices were associated with farmers’ lack of knowledge and awareness in use and handling, inadequate extension services, low education levels, and the everyday context in which pesticides were bought and used. A careful approach to analyze pesticide use and handling practices to systematically identify ways to change the current farmers’ practices needs to be adopted or undertaken.
... Due to their lipophilic features, azole compounds can also enter the body by penetrating through the skin depending on their resorption kinetics which is 60% within 24 h for TEB (Zarn et al., 2003). The use of fungicides can reduce the costs of feed production; however, they can cause some adverse effects harmful to human and animal health (Frank et al., 2015). ...
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This study is the first to investigate the effects of tebuconazole (TEB) on the physiological functions of bovine testicular cells and epididymal spermatozoa. Motility and plasma membrane integrity of spermatozoa exposed to TEB (0.001–100 µM) were evaluated at different incubation times (0–6 h), while TEB-induced spermiotoxicity was assessed after 24 h in cell cultures. Testicular cells, obtained from the parenchyma of bovine testes, were seeded at 1.0 × 104 and 1.5 × 106 cells/well in 96- and 12-well culture plates and incubated for 48 h in culture media containing TEB (0.001–100 µM) to evaluate cytotoxicity and hormone release, respectively. TEB did not affect the motility and plasma membrane integrity. However, significant spermiotoxicity occurred at higher TEB (1–100 µM) concentrations (P < 0.05) compared to control and lower doses. Although no dose caused cytotoxicity in testicular cells (P > 0.05), 1 and 100 µM TEB caused a significant increase in testosterone secretion (P < 0.05). As a result, high doses of TEB (1–100 µM) had slightly suppressive effects on spermatozoa; however, these doses had stimulatory effects on testosterone secretion by testicular cells. It appears that the disruption of hormonal homeostasis of testicular cells after TEB exposure may result in metabolic and especially reproductive adverse effects in bulls.
... Nowadays, the estimated worldwide consumption of pesticides has reached 3.5 million tons per year (Eyhorn et al. 2015). Repeated insecticide applications resulted in a high selection pressure that has led to the rapid evolution and emergence of resistances in target pest populations (Denholm 1988, Dittrich et al. 1990, Palumbo et al. 2001. ...
Thesis
Bemisia tabaci est un insecte ravageur d’importance mondiale de par sa capacité à transmettre des phytovirus. Trois espèces d’aleurodes coexistent à La Réunion : l'espèce indigène IO, et deux espèces exotiques MEAM1 et MED-Q, qui ont successivement envahi l’île en 1997 et 2010. La principale stratégie de lutte contre ces espèces est l'utilisation d'insecticides, ce qui peut mener à l'émergence de résistances. Le principal objectif était de comprendre l’évolution de la distribution de ces espèces dans les agrosystèmes insulaires, au regard de leur spectre de résistance aux insecticides dans un contexte d’hybridation interspécifique. Des aleurodes ont été échantillonnés dans 56 sites, génotypés pour 11 marqueurs microsatellites et pour deux loci kdr impliqués dans la résistance aux pyréthroïdes. Quinze populations ont été phénotypées pour la résistance à la pymétrozine et à l’acétamipride, et le coût de la résistance à l’acétamipride a été évalué. Les deux espèces envahissantes se retrouvent principalement dans les agrosystèmes, et possèdent des mutations de résistance kdr. La plupart des populations de MEAM1 sont résistantes à l'acétamipride, à la pymétrozine ou aux deux insecticides. La résistance à l’acétamipride ne semble pas soumise à un coût. L'espèce indigène IO a été principalement échantillonnée dans les zones non agricoles, ou en bordure d’agrosystèmes. Elle n'a aucune mutation de résistance aux pyréthrinoïdes et est sensible aux insecticides testés. L’hybridation interspécifique (MEAM-IO) observée ne conduirait pas à l'introgression de mutations résistantes dans l’espèce indigène, mais possiblement à l’introgression de sensibilité chez MEAM1.
... This leads to monotonous food habits and may cause the accumulation of chemicals used to ensure the quantity of products. Some of the agricultural chemicals can lead to food toxicity or long-term health impacts such as cancer, neural damage, hormonal and immunity morbidity, and natal health issues [31] . On the other hand, indigenous agricultural practices from different cultures focus on survival, seasonal food, using natural food sources, and trade between different loci [32][33] . ...
Article
Healthy ecosystems are important for human health. There is a need for designers, planners, and researchers to collaborate in order to create the resilient built environments for both environmental and human well-being. However, the current research findings may be difficult to apply to specific context in actual settlements. In each settlement, urban or rural, designers, planners, and researchers need to understand the existing in contexts and issues to provide adequate research and design questions, which will lead to providing the solutions. These gaps between knowledge and implementation may result in the delay of progress. This study examined three built environment issues found in Northern Thailand via the perspectives of an urban planner, landscape architects, and researchers including environmental justice, food security, and clean air. The directions that such collaboration can move forward, involving evidence-based design, research methods, and design evaluation were then discussed. A new paradigm was proposed to improve the relationships between healthy ecosystem and healthy human settlements.
... Pesticides can damage human and animal health, 4-7 exacerbated by limited use of personal protective equipment, and have detrimental effects on the environment and biodiversity. [4][5][6][7][8] Incorrect usage can also lead to the development of pesticide resistance, reducing the cost-effectiveness of control. Integrated pest management (IPM) has therefore been promoted as the basis for sustainable agriculture, giving priority to ecological, safer methods of crop production, and minimising the use of pesticides. ...
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BACKGROUND Although Kenya has a relatively high number of registered biopesticide products, little is known about their use by smallholder farmers. This paper documents farmers' current use and perception of chemical pesticides and biopesticides, farmers' willingness to pay for biopesticides, and the key challenges to their uptake. RESULTS A survey found chemical pesticides are widely used by smallholder farmers despite awareness of the risks to human health and the environment. Almost half of respondents showed awareness of biopesticides, but current use in the survey localities was low (10%). Findings identify the key reasons for low use of biopesticides by smallholders in this study were perceptions of effectiveness, primarily speed of action and spectrum of activity, availability and affordability. Those who used biopesticides cited effectiveness, recommendation by advisory services and perception of safety as key reasons for their choice. While farmers viewed both pesticides and biopesticides as costly, they invested in the former due to their perceived effectiveness. The average willingness to pay (WTP), above current chemical pesticide expenditures per cropping season was 9.6% (5.7 US$). WTP was significantly different between counties, and higher amongst farmers with more education or greater awareness of health risks. CONCLUSION This study confirms low use of biopesticide products in the survey areas alongside high use of conventional chemical pesticides. In order to promote greater uptake of biopesticides addressing farmers' awareness and their perceptions of effectiveness is important, as well as increasing the knowledge of those providing advice and ensuring registered products are locally available at competitive prices. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
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Over the past few centuries, some subspecies of the western yellow wagtail Motacilla flava have shown changes in their reproductive ranges. The aim of this research is to verify if changes have occurred also in the wintering range of the species in Africa and Europe from 1848 to 2017. The data, collected through the consultation of over 840 bibliographic sources, 184 travel reports, 38 databases (including 25 relating to museum collections) and some website, shows an expansion of the wintering range to the north. The analysis is also extended to the single subspecies (flava, iberiae, cinereocapilla, flavissima, thunbergi, pygmaea, feldegg, beema, lutea, leucocephala). The factors that can affect the conservation of the species during wintering are examined and the oversummering range of Motacilla flava in sub-Saharan Africa is also discussed.
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More than 15 years after their first successful commercial introduction in the United States, genetically engineered (GE) seeds have been widely adopted by U.S. corn, soybean, and cotton farmers. Still, some questions persist regarding the potential benefits and risks of GE crops. The report finds that, although the pace of research and development (measured by the number of USDA-approved field tests) peaked in 2002, other measures show that biotech firms continue to develop new GE seed varieties at a rapid pace. Also, U.S. farmers continue to adopt GE seeds at a robust rate, and seed varieties with multiple (stacked) traits have increased at a very rapid rate. Insecticide use has decreased with the adoption of insect-resistant crops, and herbicide-tolerant crops have enabled the substitution of glyphosate for more toxic and persistent herbicides. However, overreliance on glyphosate and a reduction in the diversity of weed management practices have contributed to the evolution of glyphosate resistance in some weed species.
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Since the 1960s, the world's population has more than doubled and agricultural production per person has increased by a third. Yet this growth in production has masked enormous hidden costs arising from widespread pesticide use - massive ecological damage and high incidences of farmer poisoning and chronic health effects. Whereas once the risks involved with pesticide use were judged to be outweighed by the potential benefits, increasingly the external costs of pesticides, to environments and human health, are being seen as unacceptable. In response to this trend, recent years have seen millions of farmers in communities around the world reduce their use of harmful pesticides and develop cheaper and safer alternatives. The Pesticide Detox explores the potential for the phasing-out of hazardous pesticides and the phasing-in of cost effective alternatives already available on the market. This book makes clear that it is time to start the pesticide detox and to move towards a more sustainable agriculture.
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Diverse, severe, and location-specific impacts on agricultural production are anticipated with climate change. The last IPCC report indicates that the rise of CO 2 and associated " greenhouse " gases could lead to a 1.4 to 5.8 °C increase in global surface temperatures, with subsequent consequences on precipitation frequency and amounts. Temperature and water availability remain key factors in determining crop growth and productivity; predicted changes in these factors will lead to reduced crop yields. Climate-induced changes in insect pest, pathogen and weed population dynamics and in-vasiveness could compound such effects. Undoubtedly, climate-and weather-induced instability will affect levels of and access to food supply, altering social and economic stability and regional competiveness. Adaptation is considered a key factor that will shape the future severity of climate change impacts on food production. Changes that will not radically modify the monoculture nature of dominant agroecosystems may moderate negative impacts temporarily. The biggest and most durable benefits will likely result from more radical ag-roecological measures that will strengthen the resilience of farmers and rural communities, such as diversification of agroecosytems in the form of polycultures, agroforestry systems , and crop-livestock mixed systems accompanied by organic soil management, water conservation and harvesting, and general enhancement of agrobiodiversity. Traditional farming systems are repositories of a wealth of principles and measures that can help modern agricultural systems become more resilient to climatic extremes. Many of these ag-roecological strategies that reduce vulnerabilities to climate variability include crop diversification, maintaining local genetic diversity, animal integration, soil organic management, water conservation and harvesting, etc. Understanding the ag-roecological features that underlie the resilience of traditional agroecosystems is an urgent matter, as they can serve as the foundation for the design of adapted agricultural systems. Observations of agricultural performance after extreme climatic events (hurricanes and droughts) in the last two decades have revealed that resiliency to climate disasters is closely linked to farms with increased levels of biodiversity. Field surveys and results reported in the literature suggest that agroecosystems are more resilient when inserted in a complex landscape matrix, featuring adapted local germplasm deployed in diversified cropping systems managed with organic matter rich soils and water conservation-harvesting techniques. The identification of systems that have withstood climatic events recently or in the past and understanding the agroecological features of such systems that allowed them to resist and/or recover from extreme events is of increased urgency , as the derived resiliency principles and practices that underlie successful farms can be disseminated to thousands of farmers via Campesino a Campesino networks to scale up agroecological practices that enhance the resiliency of agroecosystems. The effective diffusion of agroecological technologies will largely determine how well and how fast farmers adapt to climate change.
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Subject: Pesticides are supposed to complete their intended function without " any unreasonable risk to man or the environment ". Pesticides approval and registration are performed " taking into account the economic, social and environmental costs and benefits of the use of any pesticide ". The present book documents the various adverse impacts of pesticides usage: pollution, dietary intake and health effects such as birth defects, neurological disorders, cancer and hormone disruption. Risk assessment methods and the involvement of molecular modeling to the knowledge of pesticides are highlighted, too. The volume summarizes the expertise of leading specialists from all over the world. Available at: http://www.intechopen.com/books/show/title/pesticides-the-impacts-of-pesticides-exposure
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Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a leading complement and alternative to synthetic pesticides and a form of sustainable intensification with particular importance for tropical smallholders. Global pesticide use has grown over the past 20 years to 3.5 billion kg/year, amounting to a global market worth $45 billion. The external costs of pesticides are $4–$19 (€3–15) per kg of active ingredient applied, suggesting that IPM approaches that result in lower pesticide use will benefit, not only farmers, but also wider environments and human health. Evidence for IPM's impacts on pesticide use and yields remains patchy. We contribute an evaluation using data from 85 IPM projects from 24 countries of Asia and Africa implemented over the past twenty years. Analysing outcomes on productivity and reliance on pesticides, we find a mean yield increase across projects and crops of 40.9% (SD 72.3), combined with a decline in pesticide use to 30.7% (SD 34.9) compared with baseline. A total of 35 of 115 (30%) crop combinations resulted in a transition to zero pesticide use. We assess successes in four types of IPM projects, and find that at least 50% of pesticide use is not needed in most agroecosystems. Nonetheless, policy support for IPM is relatively rare, counter-interventions from pesticide industry common, and the IPM challenge never done as pests, diseases and weeds evolve and move. OPEN ACCESS
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This new edition builds on the explosion of research on sustainable agriculture since the late 1980s. By separating myth from reality, Miguel Altieri extracts the key principles of sustainable agriculture and expounds on management systems that “really work.” Providing case studies of sustainable rural development in developing countries, he goes beyond a mere description of practices to include data that reveal the socioeconomic and environmental impacts of alternative projects. Each chapter of Agroecology has been enriched and updated with the latest research results from around the world. New emphasis has been placed on such issues as the ecological economics of agriculture, policy changes needed for promoting sustainable agriculture, rural development in the Third World, the role of biodiversity in agriculture, and new research methodologies.
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This book provides a timely analysis and assessment of the potential of organic agriculture (OA) for rural development and the improvement of livelihoods. It focuses on smallholders in developing countries and in countries of economic transition, but there is also coverage of and comparisons with developed countries. It covers market-oriented approaches and challenges for OA as part of high value chains and as an agro-ecologically based development for improving food security. It demonstrates the often unrecognised roles that organic farming can play in climate change, food security and sovereignty, carbon sequestration, cost internalisations, ecosystems services, human health and the restoration of degraded landscapes.
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Honey bee (Apis mellifera L.) colony collapse disorder (CCD) that appeared in 2005/2006 still lingers in many parts of the world. Here we show that sub-lethal exposure of neonicotinoids, imidacloprid or clothianidin, affected the winterization of healthy colonies that subsequently leads to CCD. We found honey bees in both control and neonicotinoid-treated groups progressed almost identically through the summer and fall seasons and observed no acute morbidity or mortality in either group until the end of winter. Bees from six of the twelve neonicotinoid-treated colonies had abandoned their hives, and were eventually dead with symptoms resembling CCD. However, we observed a complete opposite phenomenon in the control colonies in which instead of abandonment, they were re-populated quickly with new emerging bees. Only one of the six control colonies was lost due to Nosema-like infection. The observations from this study may help to elucidate the mechanisms by which sub-lethal neonicotinoids exposure caused honey bees to vanish from their hives.