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Great Lakes Farmers Save Money and Wildlife By Reducing Pesticide Use

Washington -- Farmers throughout the Great Lakes basin are increasing
profits while reducing their reliance on synthetic chemical pesticides, but
on too many farms pesticide use remains unnecessarily high despite evidence
that wildlife and humans are at risk, reports a new book from World
Wildlife Fund.
	Focusing on an area of the US and Canada that contains 20 percent
of the worldís supply of freshwater, the book examines the link between
synthetic pesticides and a host of human and animal health effects.  It
found that over half the pesticides used in the Great Lakes basin fall into
at least one of the following hazard categories:  probable or possible
human carcinogen, potential endocrine or reproductive system disruptor,
groundwater contaminant, acute immediate danger to farmworkers, or acute
hazard to birds, aquatic organisms and mammals.
	Reducing Reliance on Pesticides in Great Lakes Basin Agriculture
(1997, World Wildlife Fund, Washington, D.C.) provides the first
comprehensive overview of agricultural pesticide reduction, concluding that
not only can farmers lower the risks to humans and wildlife by reducing
pesticide use, they can also increase their profit margins.  For example:

Campbell Soup Company reduced pesticide application by more than 50 percent
in four years without sacrificing yields or quality.  Campbell farmers in
Ohio lowered the number of pesticide applications by 80 percent and saved
$26 per acre;

Illinois soybean producers saved an estimated $23 million in 1992 by using
innovative crop rotations and planting pest-resistant crops;

a collaborative effort between governments, academic institutions, growers
and processors reduced pesticide spraying on potato fields in Wisconsin and
saved almost $6 million on pesticides and irrigation.

	"Farmers who continue to rely on massive applications of synthetic
pesticides are literally pouring away millions of dollars into the Great
Lakes basin," said Dr. Polly Hoppin, Director of WWF's Agricultural
Pollution Prevention Project.  "This study proves that companies and
individual farmers save money and protect the environment through prudent,
biologically based
pest management systems."
	WWF examined data on pesticides and pest management practices and
conducted a series of meetings with those having a stake in pest management
-- farmers, consumers, environmentalists, representatives of agribusiness,
government officials and academics. The book suggests a new, basin-wide
initiative to reduce reliance on pesticides be developed with the input of
all stakeholders, but guided by three realities:

the health and environmental risks from pesticides currently used in the
basin are not fully understood and measured, but are potentially severe;

for many crops, alternative management practices already exist and are
being used by a small but growing segment of farmers;

regional institutions have the potential to promote substantial reductions
in chemical pest management through new and existing programs and policies.

	The book gives farmers, companies and activists the tools they need
to reduce pesticide use, on the farm, in the boardroom or in the halls of
government.  Detailed discussions and case studies of crop management
systems, new technologies, measurable reduction goals and private sector
initiatives all lead into a comprehensive action agenda for the Great Lakes
	WWF recently signed an agreement with the Wisconsin Potato and
Vegetable Growers Association (WPVGA) designed to reach many of the goals
outlined in the book. The project targets include: the adoption of pest
management systems to restore the natural balance of pests and predators
and use pesticides only as a last resort;  expanding and appropriately
managing places where wildlife can thrive; measuring progress farmers are
making toward pesticide reduction and other environmental goals, and making
data available to the public; developing a packaging label to recognize
good practices in the marketplace; and identifying and working to change
policies that are discouraging farmers from making environmental
	"Reducing reliance on pesticides prevents pollution.  It reduces
environmental risks, enhances biodiversity, and increases economic
competitiveness," Hoppin said. "The issue should no longer be whether we
make the transition, but how we do it."
	Individuals can order the book by calling (410) 516-6951.
World Wildlife Fund (WWF), known worldwide by its panda logo, leads
international efforts to save life on earth.

Michelle Miller
1575 Linden Drive
Madison,WI  53706

FAX  262-5217

Home Office 608/255-1503
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