Agronomy for Sustainable Development (2013) 33, 243-255

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József Popp, Károly Peto and János Nagy (2013)
Pesticide productivity and food security. A review
Agronomy for Sustainable Development 33 (1), 243-255
Abstract: The 7 billion global population is projected to grow by 70 million per annum, increasing by 30 % to 9.2 billion by 2050. This increased population density is projected to increase demand for food production by 70 % notably due to changes in dietary habits in developing countries towards high quality food, e.g. greater consumption of meat and milk products and to the increasing use of grains for livestock feed. The availability of additional agricultural land is limited. Any expansion will happen mostly at the expense of forests and the natural habitats containing wildlife, wild relatives of crops and natural enemies of crop pests. Furthermore, more agricultural land will be used to produce bio-based commodities such as biofuel or fibre instead of food. Thus, we need to grow food on even less land, with less water, using less energy, fertiliser and pesticide than we use today. Given these limitations, sustainable production at elevated levels is urgently needed. The reduction of current yield losses caused by pests is a major challenge to agricultural production. This review presents (1) worldwide crop losses due to pests, (2) estimates of pesticide-related productivity, and costs and benefits of pesticide use, (3) approaches to reduce yield losses by chemical, as well as biological and recombinant methods of pest control and (4) the challenges of the crop-protection industry. The general public has a critical function in determining the future role of pesticides in agriculture. However, as long as there is a demand for pesticide-based solutions to pest control problems and food security concerns, the externality problems associated with the human and environmental health effects of pesticides need also to be addressed.
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