The Ecologist February 1971: The Pesticide Fallacy

Front Cover for the 1971 February Ecologist Edition
Forty years ago this February Roy Bridger wrote The Pesticide Fallacy - outlining early concerns over certain pest control methods. But have things improved?

Forty years on and the same situation exists: ‘man’ still needs control over the running of nature. In writing ‘The Pesticide Fallacy’, Roy Brigder outlined his pressing concerns about the detrimental impacts pest control management was inflicting upon the environment. 

Believed to date back as far as 2500 BC, when the Sumerians first used sulphur for pest eradication, a multiplicity of control practices are in operation today. Ranging from pesticide spraying, biological pest controls, integrated pest management and some extreme uses of explosives and fire blasting in areas like Africa, it is no wonder that even now, pest management strategies are creating great cause for concern.
Despite having limited knowledge in the 70’s of the effects of pesticide application upon the environment, Brigder feared that with time, increased pest management would end up threatening the ‘existence of all individuals in all species.’

With pesticide application causing resistance in target pests, and being responsible for introducing persistent, toxic chemicals into nature, we can applaud those responsible for the banning of pesticides like Diazinion and PCB’s. Supported with research suggesting that 98 per cent of sprayed insecticides and 95 per cent of herbicides reach a destination other than their target species, pest control is being named and shamed for worldwide biodiversity loss. 

Today’s efforts in pest removal have greatly turned towards Genetically Modified (GM) crops for the answer. This alternative has brought with it even more pressing concerns however.

Therefore, 40 years on from Brigder’s argument, it appears that the situation still remains the same, if not worse. More needs to be done if we want to protect our environment and stop the removal of irreplaceable species from nature. We need to question who is the real pest in nature? And do something about it fast.

Brigders original article

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