Management of Pesticide Resistance

Pesticides are important tools used in managing pest populations; however, some individual pest organisms are naturally resistant to pesticides. These resistant individuals survive and reproduce, passing on genetic resistance to generation after generation until most of the population is resistant and certain pesticides are no longer effective. In recent years, use of conventionally applied herbicides, fungicides, and insecticides has increased significantly and pesticide resistance has multiplied rapidly. In addition, some insect pests have developed resistance to insecticidal proteins that are expressed in genetically modified plants. When resistance develops and commonly-used pesticides fail to control pest populations, damage to crops, property, and landscapes intensifies and costs skyrocket. For example, cotton growers in the southeastern U.S. face serious crop losses due to weeds that are resistant to the commonly-used pesticide, RoundUp®. Soybeans, rice, and other crops are expected to face similar problems soon. Pesticide resistance often leads to overuse or misuse of pesticides, risking harm to the environment and public health and making the crops less desirable to certain markets and consumers. Quickly and successfully addressing pesticide resistance requires the work of scientists from many disciplines and up-to-date information. Managing pesticide resistance also relies on persistent monitoring and consistent, effective strategies in the field. Better management of pesticide resistance will lead to improved protection from pests, a more stable supply of quality crops for consumers, better profits for growers, and healthier humans, animals, and environments.

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