240 pages, Figs, tabs
In recent years millions of farmers around the world have been identifying harmful pesticides and developing cheaper and safer alternatives. The Pesticide Detox explores the potential for phasing-out hazardous pesticides and the phasing-in of more cost-effective alternatives already on the market.
Developed in the 1940s, synthetic pesticides were first extolled as panaceas and later excoriated. Their benefits lay in improving countries' economies and in feeding, clothing, and pest-proofing rising densities of people. In the 1960s, public attention turned to their external, largely undocumented costs. Important factor include pesticides' adverse environmental effects on wildlife, human health and reliance on off-farm inputs, and, more recently, genetically modified crops and effects on human use of arable land. Fourteen chapters address the indirect costs of synthetic pesticides, endeavoring to inform the debate regarding how best to produce, sustain, and protect valuable resources. The initial chapter, 'Pesticide Use and the Environment, ' sets the subject; chapters follow on health, costs, corporate involvement, pesticide alternatives, farmers, social dimensions, and commodity/country case histories. With sometimes limited information, authors indicate that the problem is serious, that some progress has been made, and that more efforts are necessary for better remediation and avoidance of past mistakes. Surprisingly, the external costs of rice production in China were calculated to exceed the value of synthetic pesticide use by 86 cents/dollar (value exceeded cost for other countries). Liberal use of informative graphs and tables, a useful index, and extensive bibliographic references enhance the text. Summing Up: Recommended. All levels.-M. K. Harris, Texas A & M University in CHOICE
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