Fortunately, there is evidence that where chemicals are used strategically and widely in agriculture, such as the United States, wildlife biodiversity improves. Kevin McGowan of the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology in New York, told Live Science: “Birds are increasing and that’s good. … We don’t always hear enough about the fact that a lot of things are doing well.”
After decades of progress, though, improvements in agricultural productivity have slowed and world food prices have increased when adjusted for inflation. The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) notes: “The sudden [food price] increases took many by surprise and led to increased concern over the ability of the world food economy to adequately feed billions of people, now and in the future.”
Population will continue to expand, which warrants expansion of farming with agro-chemicals and other technologies to ensure a growing food supply. Yet policies advanced by Carson’s followers are moving the world in the opposite direction, applying increasingly stringent regulations and some bans on many safe and valuable agro-technologies.
Although many in the developed world may be able to shoulder some of these costs, the world’s poor will suffer disproportionately, and wildlife could suffer as well if more land is needed for agriculture as per-acre production dwindles.
Moving into a new year, it’s time we look to the future and advance the technologies that will make life better for everyone. Continuing to advance misguided ideas of the past is the more dangerous proposition.