This book seeks to address some of these difficulties and set out some new solutions. Pests, diseases and weeds eat, infiltrate and smother crops and grab their nutrients. If farmers stood back and let nature take its course, there would be insufficient food. They must do something. Pesticides are easy to use, although often costly for farmers. In addition, they frequently involve considerable costs to society in the form of public health and environmental costs. Alternatives often appear more difficult to implement, but are more sustainable in the long term. Their broad introduction, however, continues to face many challenges.
In this book this approach to IPM is sometimes called community-IPM, lowtoxicity IPM, ecological IPM or even just ecological pest management (EPM), implying that the approach is something more than just a reduction in pesticide use. Despite many positive national and international intentions and commitments, and even though less hazardous alternatives are often readily available, large quantities of undesirable pesticides continue to be used in many parts of the world. These include products with acute toxicity hazards or chronic health hazards. Some are persistent in the environment and/or disrupt ecosystem functioning.
This book explores the potential for the phasing out of hazardous pesticides and the phasing in of cost-effective alternatives already on the market. The priority criterion for phasing out is acute mammalian toxicity in view of the high incidence of farmer poisoning, especially in the tropics where protective clothing is not available or is too costly or uncomfortable to use. Other criteria include chronic health hazards and hazards to ecosystems. But such phasing out of undesirable products and the phasing in of new ones will need to be accompanied by supportive policy measures. Policy changes may include: the removal of subsidies on products scheduled for phase-out; taxation of products with high social costs; financial incentives to encourage local development and the production of new products; incentives to encourage partnerships between local producers in developing countries and producers of non-toxic products in Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries; a review of lists of registered pesticides; the establishment, monitoring and enforcement of maximum residue limits; and investment in farmer training through farmer field schools.