NRC 1993), but applicator and worker safety remains a concern for this committee.

Recommendation 1. There is no justification for completely abandoning chemicals per se as components in the defensive toolbox used for managing pests. The committee recommends maintaining a diversity of tools for maximizing flexibility, precision, and stability of pest management.

No single pest-management strategy will work reliably in all managed or natural ecosystems. Indeed, such “magic bullet” fantasies have historically contributed to overuse and resistance problems (Chapter 2). Chemical pesticides should not automatically be given the highest priority. Whether they should be considered tools of last resort depends on features of the particular system in which pest management is being used (for example, agriculture, forest, or household) and on the degree of exposure of humans and nontarget organisms. Pesticides should be evaluated in conjunction with all other alternative management practices not only with respect to efficacy, cost, and ease of implementation but also with respect to long-term sustainability, environmental impact, and health.

With regard to the second charge—identifying what types of chemical products will be required in specific managed ecosystems or localities in which particular chemical products will continue to be required—the committee decided that there is too much variability within and among systems to provide coherent and consistent recommendations. Differences among managed and natural ecosystems in biological factors, such as pest pressure, and in economic factors, such as profitability, make generalizations about particular products of little value. Indeed, generalizing across systems as to the necessity of pesticides is responsible in part for many concerns and conflicts of opinion.

As for the third charge—to identify the most promising opportunities for increasing benefits of and reducing risks posed by pesticide use—the committee identified these:

  • Make research investments and policy changes that emphasize development of pesticides and application technologies that pose reduced health risks and are compatible with ecologically based pest management.

  • Promote scientific and social initiatives to make development and use of alternatives to pesticides more competitive in a wide variety of managed and natural ecosystems.

  • Increase the ability and motivation of agricultural workers to lessen



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