IPM and the War on Pests

We now know that conducting mass chemical warfare against agricultural pests always turns out to be a losing proposition in the end. As farmers escalated their spraying in the post-World War II era, insects and weeds simply developed greater pesticide resistance—and devoured larger portions of the world's food crops than ever. Meanwhile, pesticide residues caused alarming outbreaks of human disease. When "Integrated Pest Management" (IPM) was introduced as a way of using natural ecological controls to wean agriculture from heavy pesticide reliance, it was hailed as a major victory for human and evironmental health. But in the past decade, pesticide manufacturers have expropriated the IPM banner—twisting its meaning in order to sell more agricultural chemicals than ever. Now the question is whether— and how—the original goals of IPM can be restored.