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Food Safety pp 43-55 | Cite as

Safe Food Production with Minimum and Judicious Use of Pesticides

  • Christos A. DamalasEmail author
Chapter

Abstract

In agricultural ecosystems, pests, plant pathogens and weeds pose a major challenge to crop productivity and global food security. Without crop protection measures, the crop damage inflicted would be more severe by almost 30 % than that is at present. Pesticides have proved to be an efficient and reliable way of minimizing pest pressure in most cases. Nowadays, however, the excessive and uncontrolled use of pesticides is called into question, with the increasing knowledge of negative impacts and the demonstration of undesirable effects on ecosystems, on non-target species and on human health. Overreliance on pesticides is also counterproductive to the sustainability of pest control, especially with respect to the increasing problem of pest resistance. Concerns about the sustainability of agricultural ecosystems lead to the need of developing technologies and practices that do not adversely influence environmental goods and services, are readily accessible, easy to implement and effective for farmers and improve crop productivity. Because pesticides will likely remain a tool for modern agriculture, it is important to design strategies that will reduce the impact of pesticides. The use of advanced ecological knowledge at high levels of the hierarchy of the agro-ecosystem, which means utilization of comprehensive information on the life cycles of pests, maximization of the use of natural processes in the cropping system, rational decision-making for pest control taking into account the severity of the infestation and introduction of the damage threshold concept, is gaining popularity. With respect to pest control, regardless of the method selected, it should be implemented with precision and with as few chemicals as possible. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is seen as a way to achieve sustainable agricultural production with less damage to the environment. IPM provides a toolbox of complementary solutions for pest control by using complementary technologies. It relies on minimum use of pesticides that target specific pests, can be applied at low rates and are less toxic to beneficial organisms. IPM projects have been able to deliver substantial reductions in the use of pesticides coupled with increased yields. From their side, agrochemical companies try to expand their product portfolio by investing in the research of new chemical compounds with innovative modes of action, aiming at environmentally friendly and sustainable crop protection products that are effective with smaller amounts of active ingredients. Adaptive pest control based on IPM with rational use of pesticides and only as a last resort seems to be the most viable way forward for safe food production.

Keywords

Crop protection Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Sustainability Yield losses 

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Agricultural DevelopmentDemocritus University of ThraceOrestiadaGreece

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