Ag College President: Pesticides help modern farming

“Atrazine and other pesticides add more than $2.4 billion of crop production in Georgia. They control weeds and help the environment. Atrazine is vitally important to our economic health.”

Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College president David C. Bridges writes in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Warning: Recent studies may challenge deeply held assumptions about pesticides and the environment.

Most agronomists understand farm pesticide use is perhaps the single greatest factor in protecting wildlife, saving habitat and keeping our waters clean. Recent scholarship should help the truth of that assertion reach the public.

Pesticides empower us to grow much more per acre than we did 40 years ago. Stanford University researchers found that, without modern farming, cultivated farmland would likely need to double to produce the same amount of food.

Modern farming, including pesticide use, has saved a land mass greater than Russia from falling under the plow. Mechanization, fertilizers, plant breeding and biotechnology also play key roles in modern farming. But studies show environmental gains directly attributable to pesticides.

In a new study, agronomist Mike Owen of Iowa State University says pesticides help U.S. farmers produce four times the corn and wheat of the early 1900s without clearing forest habitats or draining wetlands.

Because herbicides control weeds without plowing, the University of Wisconsin’s Paul Mitchell reports in a companion paper that farmers save more than 550 million gallons of fuel per year, equaling more than 2 billion pounds of carbon-dioxide emissions. Greenhouse gasses are not released into the atmosphere…

Read Bridges entire op-ed.

Click here for the opposing viewpoint by anti-pesticide activist Jay Feldman.