NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Greens Wouldn't Like A World Without Pesticides, Chemicals

August 12, 1999

Through their attacks on agricultural chemicals, environmental activists are shooting themselves in the foot, say farming specialists. Their efforts to stamp out pesticides, for example, will jeopardize both food security and wildlands conservation -- all in the name of eliminating food risks we can't even verify.

  • Hybrid seeds, irrigation, chemical fertilizers and pesticides triggered a revolution in agriculture resulting in enough food to feed the world.
  • Global food security has led Third World couples to stop having children once two or three are born, rather than six or 16 -- because they know their children will live to maturity and not starve.
  • Since we are currently feeding more than twice as many people as lived in 1950 -- and doing so on the same 37 percent of the planet's land area that we farmed then -- wildlands have been preserved from agricultural development.
  • Higher crop yields have saved more than 15 million square miles of wildlife habitat -- equivalent to the total land area of the U.S., Europe and South America.

If the world were forced to abandon agricultural chemicals and adopt organic farming, five million to 10 million square miles of wildlife habitat would need to be plowed under immediately.

We've added eight years to the average lifespan since we started using pesticides widely. And after billions of dollar spent trying, not one pesticide-residue cancer victim has been found.

Source: Dennis Avery (Hudson Institute), "Why Greens Should Love Pesticides," Wall Street Journal, August 12, 1999.


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