Pesticides

Notice: This is only a preliminary collection of relevant material

The data and research currently presented here is a preliminary collection or relevant material. We will further develop our work on this topic in the future (to cover it in the same detail as for example our entry on World Population Growth).

If you have expertise in this area and would like to contribute, apply here to join us as a researcher.

Empirical View

Pesticide application rates

Pesticide application across the world

This world map shows pesticide application in kilograms per hectare.

In the chart view it is possible to explore the change since 1990.

Pesticide production

This graph shows the increase of the total global pesticide production over the last decades. Production is measured in million tonnes here.

Total global pesticide production and global pesticide imports, 1940s-2000 – Tillman et al. (2002)1
Total global pesticide production and global pesticide imports (1940s-2000) – Tillman et al. (2002)0

Pesticide production by type

This visualization shows pesticide use, broken down by product type in the US. It is measured in tonnes of active ingredient.

Throughout this entire period herbicides were the most commonly used pesticides.

Pesticide consumption

Pesticide consumption by country

Shown here is the total annual use measured in tonnes of pesticide.

Loss of food production due to pests

Global losses

Estimates of food production losses due to diseases, insects and weeds.

Loss of food production due to diseases, insects and weeds – Agrios (2005)2
Attainable crop production (2002 prices) $1.5 trillion
Actual crop production (-36.5%) $950 billion
Production without crop protection $455 billion
Losses prevented by crop protection $415 billion
Actual annual losses to world crop production $550 billion
Losses caused by diseases only (14.1%) $220 billion

Potato blight and the Irish famine

This map shows the itinerary of the advance of the potato blight between June, when the blight was first detected in Belgium, and the end of October 1845, by which time it spread from Italy to Ireland and from Spain to the Scandinavian countries.

Late blight of potato and the Irish famine: itinerary of the potato blight – Agrios (2005)3
The late blight of potato and the Irish famine – Agrios (2005)1

Definition

The UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization gives the following definition of Pesticides4: ‘Pesticides refer to insecticides, fungicides, herbicides, disinfectants and any substance or mixture of substances intended for preventing, destroying or controlling any pest, including vectors of human or animal disease, unwanted species of plants or animals causing harm during or otherwise interfering with the production, processing, storage, transport or marketing of food, agricultural commodities, wood and wood products or animal feedstuffs, or substances which may be administered to animals for the control of insects, arachnids or other pests in or on their bodies. The term includes substances intended for use as a plant growth regulator, defoliant, desiccant or agent for thinning fruit or preventing the premature fall of fruit, and substances applied to crops either before or after harvest to protect the commodity from deterioration during storage and transport.

Data Sources

The FAO Pesticides Use Database is online here. It includes several datasets on pesticides for countries and world regions since 1990.

The FAO’s Pesticides Trade Database goes back to 1961 and is online here.