Sunday, June 29, 2008

Famines and Pesticides

A study of history is the most engaging way to secular progress. Learning is fundamentally easier than abstraction for the average individual. Neither flashes of inspiration nor propaganda can substitute rigorous review of relevant realities.

Biblical plagues by locust swarms preceded the Great Irish Potato famine. Grapes are important ingredients of the European diet, so fungal attacks in vines were more serious than natural in Asian and African countries. The observation that copper irrigation pipes somehow helped in fungal control gave early impetus to the development of metallic fungicides. Pesticide development was centered during the dawn of the 20th century in Europe. This is why fungicides preceded other pesticide types.

Insecticide research received a fillip when Germany decided to develop nerve poisons. It was fortunate that the country lost World War II in time. The other major loser was Japan, and its insect-ravaged rice crop proved to be a convenient outlet for pesticide companies of hapless German pesticide companies. India had already lost more than 3.5 million lives before the first half of the last century was over. A bacterial infection threatened rice output when independence dawned. That is why the Directorate of Plant Protection, Quarantine & Storage was born.

Famines occur due to more than one kind of reason. Inclement weather and extreme forms of civil strife between communities and nations, join debilitating pest attacks in preventing the laity from essential and adequate food supplies. Pesticides save lives. Freedom from hunger due to pest attacks is a concrete contribution of this industry.

Pesticides bring stability and assurance to every user family. Investments in land preparation, seeds, fertilization, and water, may mean bring financial ruin if weeds take over fields, if fruiting is affected, or if the plants themselves succumb to diseases.

Pesticide technologies are multi-disciplinary. They are sophisticated products and require skill sets for prescribed use. Many manufacturers spend as much on extension as they do on the conventional expense heads of ordinary business. Governments also maintain complex systems to help agrarian communities use pesticides correctly. The dimensions of service required are staggering. That is why abuse still takes place. However, famine due to pests may have become a thing of the past in this Millennium.

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