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    Repiglican Roast

    A spirited discussion of public policy and current issues

    Location: The mouth of being

    I'm furious about my squandered nation.

    Tuesday, June 24, 2008


    http://i.treehugger.com/files/th_images/bees-nrdc-02.jpg According to entomologist Dr. Paul De Bach, a proponent of less insecticide use, "The average farmer has been thoroughly 'sold' by insecticide salemen, extension literature and so-called economic entomologists. He has adopted the oft-repeated T-V brain-washing slogan 'The only good bug is a dead bug.' Now, obviously, this has to change, not because biological control workers think it is bad, but because it doesn't work."(1)

    Biological control is not a new concept; it stresses that harmful insects can be held in check by natural predators and that spraying will upset this balance. Most advocates of biological control do not believe that pesticides have no place in insect control but that insecticides, preferably selective types, should be used only when absolutely necessary. Hodge Black says it this way: "We are gifted with some wonderful crop protection chemicals which, if used properly and wisely, can assist us in making maximum yields and maximum profits."

    There are many examples of how biological control has given excellent insect control at lower costs. A good case study is in the San Joaquin Valley of California. A few years back, Bill Kincaid, who farms almond orchards totalling 380 acres near Ripen, inadvertently omitted a pesticide spray from one of his orchards. Later he could tell no difference in insect control between the unsprayed orchard and those he had sprayed. He cautiously continued the no-spray program and soon noticed quantities of ''new" insects in his orchards which an expert identified as "good" bugs that fed on harmful pests. Kincaid then decided to spray only when he felt his crop to be in dire danger from insect pests. He has not sprayed any of his orchards for 3 years and has sold his spray rig. His yields have held up and he has had less insect problems than his neighbors who follow a diligent spray program.

    Some observers of Kincaid's experiments are giving his method serious consideration. Others have seen but will not believe until the "powers that be" tell them it is possible: Experiences such as Kincaid's suggest that a re-appraisal of current insect control practices is in order on the part of many growers.

    It is unlikely that all growers would be in a position to eliminate insecticide applications entirely but it is not unrealistic to believe that the number of applications could be materially reduced.

    Why haven't better insect control methods been put into effect? A major part of the answer is that the present insect control machinery has been built up to such Gargantuan extent that it is virtually impossible to shut it off or change its course. In the last 20 years the pesticide industry has burgeoned into a multimillion dollar business. On many farms insect control easily heads the list as the most expensive item in the farmer's budget.



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