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Study Overuse of pesticides by Chinese farmers and devastating results

Susanna Pilny – “While the Great Recession is over, many of its aftereffects are still being felt—especially in China, where a shift in agricultural practices driven by the economic crisis may have devastating results, according to a new study that spanned 10 years. In the early 2000s, the Chinese government decided to invest in chemical production facilities, which served them well on the international market until the global recession. Then, as exports plummeted, these facilities began to flood local markets with their products—including now-cheaper insecticides. Farmers began spraying their fields in earnest.But, according to a study published in Ecological Applications, this sudden surge in pesticide usage had an unusual effect: While helping to eliminate much of a one of the top 100 invasive species, a pest known as the whitefly, it appears to actually have driven the growth of a different subtype of the same species. This would all be fine and dandy, except for one enormous issue: This now-booming subtype of whitefly is an enormous plant disease carrier—and as of 2012, it had become dominant in all but two of the 28 provinces and territories examined. (Six, including contentious Tibet and Taiwan, were not included in the study.)”

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