Today, the world’s leading manufacturers of crop protection products invest more than $3 billion annually into research and development of new products, and the overall R&D investment by the major research-based companies has remained consistently high at 7%-10% of annual sales over the last 50 years (Phillips McDougall AgriService). With this high level of investment, companies have continued to develop and improve the efficacy and safety profiles of products to ensure high and enhanced regulatory standards are met and farmers are provided with effective tools to provide nutritious, safe and affordable food.
The publication of Rachel Carson’s ‘Silent Spring’ book in 1962 was an important milestone in the development of the crop protection industry. It emphasized the need to improve the safety and environmental profiles of pesticide products, and its public and political impact was instrumental in the formation of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In order to illustrate how the industry has evolved, it is helpful to compare key aspects of the crop protection industry around the time of Silent Spring’s release, with where it stands today.
In this report, the following aspects were researched and, where the data is available, the situations in the 1960s and the present day are compared.
• Product diversity: the number of products and product groups available
• Product efficacy: comparative application rates per hectare
• Innovation: the number of new products introduced per year/decade
• Regulatory costs and requirements
• Product safety and environmental aspects
• Product benefits
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The report, “The Evolution of the Crop Protection Industry Since 1960”, written by market analysts Phillips McDougall, charts how technological advancements have helped the crop protection industry meet increasingly rigorous regulatory requirements, meet societal expectations for ever-safer products, while also helping farmers meet the growing global demand for food.