The used of chemicals and crop protection products has allowed the United States to become a dominant supplier of agriculture products across the world and has allowed us to sustain this status.  If we stopped using crop protection we would forgo the higher yields that we are now able to obtain because of crop protection, and the American farmer would no longer be able to produce almost ten billion bushels of crop. John F. Kennedy once said, “Our farmers deserve praise, not condemnation; and their efficiency should be cause for gratitude, not something for which they are penalized.” Why do we ignore what one of our greatest Presidents said, and instead criticize our farmers for using crop protection, which allow them to produce 40% of the world’s corn while only using 20% of the land?

corn and soybean cropWe need to stop altogether the disapproval towards our farmers and applaud them for using new technology that allows them to supply all of us with food and jobs. Countless people carry the notion that chemicals are bad or harmful but they fail to understand how essential they are for farmers. Crop protection products are defined as any substance or mixture of substances intended to prevent or control any pest. But what actually is a pest? It’s any living organism that threatens ours crop or livestock. These definitions demonstrate to us that crop protection products are not in fact poisonous or toxic they are essentially liberators for our crops and livestock from any and all threats.

The use of crop protection for farming is not a new invention; as a matter of fact it dates all the way back to 7000 BCE, where the Sumerians used elemental sulfur to preserve their crops from the insects. While times have clearly changed since the Sumerians first started using crop protection products, we still require pesticides for farming but we have been able to evolve our crop protection to become safer and more energy efficient. As our crop protection has evolved so has the rules and regulations that go along with them.  Each state is sanctioned to regulate the use of crop protection and the quantity that is distributed each year.

Now that the clock has struck 2013 and our world population has now escalated to over 7 billion people, how will we be able to continue feeding a population that is developing infinitely? We have an obligation to continue using crop protection because they permit us to save our precious fuel, remain energy efficient, and last but surely not least, obtain higher yields allowing us to feed our world’s population.  As we celebrate President’s Day we should remember what John F. Kennedy said and stand up for our American farmers and thank them all for supplying the globe.

Kevin mcmullanKevin McMullan
Illinois State University

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