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Insecticides cause big crop yield jumps, study finds

Agriculture.com Staff 03/26/2009 @ 7:55am

The findings of a recent study show the value of insecticide use on U.S. crops has caused a $20 billion increase in yield value, according to a report from the Crop Protection Research Institute (CPRI).

"The Value of Insecticides in U.S. Crop Production" is the culmination of a three-year effort focusing on 50 crops and examining the value of insecticides to production by crop, by state and by growers nationally and demonstrates the enormous impact insecticides have in protecting the yields of numerous crops in the U.S. and in feeding millions of people while keeping food inexpensive and abundant, according to a report from CPRI, part of the CropLife Foundation (CLF), a non profit, non-advocacy organization created to advance the understanding of pesticide use in the U.S. through research and education.

Given current economic conditions, it is more important than ever that food and fiber remain affordable. Officials say CPRI's study makes clear that without insecticides and the higher yields they provide, billions of pounds of apples, oranges, potatoes, and tomatoes would be lost in the United States annually if not for these front-line weapons against crop destroying pests. Consumers would pay higher prices for the staples that they and their families rely on, not just in the U.S. but around the world and during a challenging global economy not seen for decades.

"Insecticides provide tremendous and wide-ranging benefits at relatively small cost," says Jay Vroom, chairman of CropLife Foundation. "Without insecticides many of our crops would see huge production losses. Billions of pounds a year of some of our most basic commodities would see dramatic declines or collapse altogether. The necessity for this crop protection technology is increasingly important as production and consumer demand for food and fiber needs continues to rise."

The report details several key findings. Of the crops surveyed, 31 of 50 would suffer yield losses of 40% or greater and seven crops would see losses of over 70% without the use of insecticides. California, Florida and Washington would see the most dramatic losses in crop production value and 144 billion pounds of additional, food, feed, and fiber would be lost annually in the U.S.

"Without insecticides for control of crop-feeding insects, production of some crops would be impossible in parts or all of the country," says Leonard Gianessi, CPRI director. "With the introduction of synthetic insecticides in the 1950s, production of crops increased dramatically as a result of better insect control. In some cases, as with sweet corn production in Florida, the crop could not be produced at all before synthetic insecticides were made available."

Full results of these studies, along with detailed breakdowns by state and crop, can be found at www.croplifefoundation.org.

The findings of a recent study show the value of insecticide use on U.S. crops has caused a $20 billion increase in yield value, according to a report from the Crop Protection Research Institute (CPRI).

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