their exposure to potentially harmful chemicals and refine worker-protection regulations and enforce compliance with them.

  • Reduce adverse off-target effects by judicious choice of chemical agents, implementation of precision application technology and determination of economic- and environmental-impact thresholds for pesticide use in more agricultural systems.

  • Reduce the overall environmental impact of the agricultural enterprise.

The most promising opportunity for increasing benefits and reducing risks is to invest time, money, and effort into developing a diverse toolbox of pest-management strategies that include safe products and practices that integrate chemical approaches into an overall, ecologically based framework to optimize sustainable production, environmental quality, and human health.

With respect to the fourth charge—recommending an appropriate role for the public sector in research, product development, product testing and registration, implementation of pesticide use strategies, and public education about pesticides —the committee agreed that specific policy actions in research, education, regulation, and management can enhance the likelihood that the opportunity for public-sector contributions is not missed.

Research topics that should be targeted by the public sector include

  • Minor-use crops.

  • Pest biology and ecology.

  • Integration of several pest-management tools in managed and natural ecosystems.

  • Targeted applications of pesticides.

  • Risk perception and risk assessment of pesticides and their alternatives.

  • Economic and social impacts of pesticide use.


Pesticides provide economic benefits to producers and by extension to consumers. One of the major benefits of pesticides is protection of crop quality and yield. Pesticides can under some circumstances prevent large crop losses, thus raising agricultural output and farm income. Many farmers are responsible land stewards and are concerned with potential environmental impacts of pesticides, but it is unrealistic to expect most farmers to adopt alternative pest-management strategies that would decrease their profits without the use of some policy incentives and disincentives.

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