The Journal of Agricultural Science



Centenary Reviews

A century of fungicide evolution


P. E. RUSSELL a1c1
a1 263A Hinton Way, Great Shelford, Cambridge CB2 5AN, UK

Article author query
russell pe   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 

Abstract

Up until the 1940s chemical disease control relied upon inorganic chemical preparations, frequently prepared by the user. Key areas of use were horticulture and vegetable production with key targets being diseases that caused easily recognized damage. After this era and as the damaging effects of more crop diseases became obvious by the use of chemical control, the crop protection industry expanded rapidly and research to discover new active materials began in earnest. As new areas of chemistry were introduced, each one aiming to offer advantages over the previous ones, chemical families were born with research-based companies frequently adopting patent-busting strategies in order to capitalize on the developing fungicides market. Systemic fungicides offered new opportunities in disease control. The rise in Research and Development (R & D) and the increase in the number and quantity of chemicals being applied led to the introduction of regulation in the 1950s, initially on a voluntary basis, but now strictly controlled by legal obligations. In the 1960s, the market switched from horticulture and vegetables to one in which the main agricultural crops dominated. The cereal market, initially based on barley, moved to the current dominant market of wheat. The costs of R & D have risen dramatically in recent years and have become dominated not by the discovery process per se but by the provision of all the extra data needed to obtain registration. These rising costs happened at a time when markets showed little growth and are currently showing some decline. This has resulted in an industry that is continually striving to cut costs, normally by mergers and take-overs. As a consequence, many plant disease problems are not now being targeted by the industry and special measures have been introduced to ensure adequate disease control is available for these minor markets. Plant disease control will remain a necessity and fungicides will remain as a key factor in such control, although it is predicted that integrated control using chemicals, biological controls and biotechnology approaches will begin to dominate.

(Received August 10 2004)


Correspondence:
c1 Email: Phil.E.Russell@btinternet.com


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