Are Pesticides A Sustainable Tool? New Study In Favor

The University of Arkansas released a study this month that shows pesticides advance sustainable agriculture.

This was a first-of-its-kind effort to assess the environmental footprint of pesticide use. The three-year Life Cycle Assessment evaluates the environmental benefits and impacts of pesticide application in corn, cotton, and soybeans. The study examined crop productivity with and without pesticides (herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides) for three crops. The completed assessment also passed an independent third-party review.

CropLife America, the trade organization for the organic and inorganic pesticide industry, commissioned the study. Communications lead Genevieve O’Sullivan says the study modeled 40 typical farms, including Wisconsin corn and soybeans.

The results show that without pesticides, the yields of corn, cotton, and soybeans dropped up to 70 percent.

Growing corn, cotton, and soybeans without pesticides resulted in roughly three times more land, water, energy use, and greenhouse gas emissions.

The research found pesticides enhance productivity and significantly reduce pressure on resources per bushel of corn and soybeans and per pound of cotton.

CropLife America says the study will help address the stigma that pesticides are negative for the environment. Learn more:

O’Sullivan explains this assessment comes as the EPA works on updating its proposed Herbicide Strategy — its plan to protect endangered species by further regulating pesticide usage. The next draft is expected in late summer.