Insecticide Resistance After Silent Spring

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Science  28 Sep 2012:
Vol. 337, Issue 6102, pp. 1612-1614
DOI: 10.1126/science.1226994

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Rachel Carson's book Silent Spring, published 50 years ago (1), eloquently awoke the public to the manifold dangers for the environment and human health posed by the wanton use of chemical pesticides (2). Carson argued that in addition to their many harmful ecological effects, chemical insecticides ultimately undermine sustainable pest management: They kill the parasites and predators that formerly held many pests in check, while the pests themselves become resistant and require ever-higher amounts of sprays for their control. Since the publication of Silent Spring, more than 450 arthropod species have been reported with resistance to one or more pesticides (3). Yet over the same period, a paradigm shift in dealing with this global problem has also occurred.