Problem: Pesticides, fertilizer, GMO’s, seeds, put high costs on farmers. How can we increase crop yields, and create better lives for farmers by increasing their productivity without harming their incomes?
Pesticide costs: According to National Geographic, it costs 500 000 Tanzanian shillings, more then $300, to buy enough pesticide to treat a single acre. This is a crippling expense in a country with an annual per capita income is less than $1,600. The use of pesticide also traps farmers in a cycle of dependency. Referred to as the "pesticide trap," farmers get caught on the treadmill as they are forced to use more and more — increasingly toxic — chemicals to control insects and weeds that develop resistance to pesticides.As "superbugs" and "superweeds" develop in response to widespread and continuous use of chemicals, a farmer will spend more on pesticides each year just to keep crop losses at a standard rate.
Overall, pesticide resistance is increasing. In the 1940s, U.S. farmers lost seven percent of their crops to pests. Since the 1980s, loss has increased to 13 percent, even though more pesticides are being used. Between 500 and 1,000 insect and weed species have developed pesticide resistance since 1945.
Delegates should consider whether pesticides, fertilizers, GMO’s, and other farm equipment, are viable methods of improving food security, or if they do more harm (to the environment, human health, and farmers incomes) then they do good.
Alternatives: Planting more varied crops to reduce the risk of one group of pests destroying an entire crop. Planting “refuge fields” filled with plants pests like - thus luring them away from cash crops. Biological pest control, using natural predators to deter insects.