Elwha river, © David Frederick

We Can’t Make This Stuff Up

Industry report shows pesticides are good for America!

(…a special installment of “Can’t Live Without ‘Em”)

That’s right. A new report from the good folks at Crop Life America identifies a cure for our nation’s prevailing economic ills: PESTICIDES!

Bald eagle in flight_us_military

Bald eagles were nearly wiped out in the 1970s due to the harmful effects of the pesticide DDT. Photo courtesy US Military

Turns out, pesticides create an additional $82 billion by improving crop yields, with “spin-off effects” of $166.5 billion in related industries. The report also concludes that pesticides have produced environmental benefits by quadrupling yields of corn and wheat without having to clear additional land. Who knew?

Of course, there’s absolutely no mention of the indirect costs on America’s native wildlife or public health from spilling toxic chemicals into our waterways. Nor is there any evaluation of the long-term impacts of agribusiness and industrial-scale monoculture, both of which are responsible for dismantling local food networks and putting the small family farmer out of business.

Let’s not forget that less than 40 years ago, the widespread use of DDT had virtually eradicated bald eagles and peregrine falcons, and pesticides today continue to wreak havoc on fish and amphibian species across the country.** (Read Defenders factsheet to learn more about the real impacts that pesticides have on the environment.)

Now, we all have to eat. And certainly pesticides will continue to play an important role in feeding the country. But no economic assessment can be complete without also examining the impact that pesticides have on water quality, human health, and the myriad species that must endure these poisons in their habitat.

Crop Life America has been lobbying Congress to weaken protections from pesticides that keep our drinking water safe and our people and wildlife healthy. This one-sided report is just their latest attempt to exploit our nation’s current economic downturn in order to boost corporate profits for the pesticide manufacturers and agribusinesses they represent.

Pacific salmon are just one of many species at risk from pesticide poisoning.

At-risk species like Pacific salmon and steelhead, which have tremendous economic value of their own, are now threatened with extinction in large part because of toxic run-off into our rivers and streams from farms sprayed with pesticides. The truth is that we need stronger protections to limit the damage that pesticides inflict on the environment, not weaker ones.

If pesticides are to be used, we must do a better job of making sure they don’t harm humans and wildlife. Rolling back environmental protections and dumping ever more pesticides onto the land and into our water is not a recipe for sustainable economic growth.

Help Defenders stand up to powerful special interests like Crop Life by supporting better protections from pesticides.

**NOTE: A recent survey of 583 conservation scientists found that 99.5% of respondents believe that a serious loss of biological diversity is imminent.

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