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Bulletin P

Abstract

The agricultural sector of the United States economy has long been recognized for its productive capacity and relative efficiency. This has resulted in abundant, high-quality, and relatively low-cost food and fiber. Many factors have made contributions to this phenomenon: adequate natural resources, research and resulting technology, the ready availability of this technology to farmers, available capital and labor, and the entrepreneurial ability of the American farmer to combine these resources efficiently.

One type of research and technology that has made a major contribution to the productive capacity and efficiency is that which relates to agricultural chemicals — pesticides for the control of insects, weeds, and diseases. The positive contribution of agricultural chemicals is generally accepted and can be validated. However, there is an expressed concern regarding the possible consequences of improper use of agricultural chemicals that might result in danger to the user, crops, livestock, aquatic and wildlife, and to the ultimate consumer of food products. In its extreme form this concern is expressed in terms of strict control or the abolition of the use of agricultural chemicals. Other proposals call for much stricter control over the clearance, sale, and use of chemicals.

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