a1 Department of Entomology and Section of Ecology and Systematics, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, U.S.A.
Although pesticides provide benefits in our battle to control pests that destroy more than a third of all food, the use of pesticides also results in significant costs to public health and the environment. As many as 500,000 humans are poisoned annually by pesticides in the world; the United States alone reports about 45,000 human pesticide poisonings.
Pesticides have also caused many detrimental effects on agroecosystems and natural ecosystems. These include: (i) reducing and sometimes eliminating beneficial natural enemies that keep pest populations at low densities; (ii) increasing or decreasing reproduction in various animal populations; (iii) altering decomposition rates of soil organic matter; (iv) developing insecticide resistance in pests, which results in increased pesticide use and additional crop losses; and (v) eliminating honey bee and other bee populations in certain regions thus reducing crop yields and quality. Pesticides also have had major impacts on fish, bird and mammal populations.
(Received March 25 1983)