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Adequate pesticide reduction policies are essential for food security

In a study published in the KeAi journal Fundamental Research, researchers from China and the United States explored the agri-food and environmental implications of an agrochemical (pesticide) use reduction policy introduced in metropolitan Shanghai, East China. The policy aimed to reduce agrochemical use by 20% by 2020, relative to 2015.

Official statistics show that Shanghai achieved that goal with a decline of just over 40% in pesticide use (from 4,415 to 2,644 tonnes). However, the planted area shrank by nearly 25% over the same period (from 340,200 to 255,200 hectares), with the production of staple crops decreasing by 18% and vegetable production by 31%. This was despite the municipality’s stated aim to keep the peri-urban agriculture as intact as possible, guaranteeing food security.

The team found that imposing the existing reduction policy at the district level and the regional level generated significantly different outcomes. When every district followed the 20% reduction mandate, both rice and vegetables (leafy greens and cabbage) experienced noteworthy reductions in acreage, resulting in lower production levels. However, for districts such as Chongming (northern island) and Qingpu (western) this reduction in acreage – and pesticide use – also had a positive outcome, alleviating pollution in the Yangtze River Estuary and the Dianshan Lake.


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