The use of pesticides is encouraging the spread of resistances, researchers warn.
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More and more harmful insects and pathogens are creating problems for useful plants because they cannot be tackled with insecticides and herbicides. Therefore, alternatives to conventional plant protection are needed.

Resistant pests are creating problems in medicine and in agriculture. In both areas, developments can no longer be coped with using conventional methods, say an international group of researchers who have analysed the global resistance burden.

In addition to the human pathogens, the researchers in the “Living with resistance” project focused on four problematic situations in crop farming: herbicide-resistant weeds in conventional crop farming and in cultivating herbicide-resistant useful plants as well as insecticide-resistant harmful insects in cultivating conventional and insect-resistant plants (Bt plants).

Understanding susceptibility to plant protection agents as an ecosystem service

“The effectiveness of plant protection agents depends fully on the susceptible organisms dominating the resistant ones,” explains Peter Jørgensen of the University of Stockholm, Sweden, and co-author of the study. A bio-diverse environment supressing massive outbreaks of pathogens could be regarded as an ecosystem service. The analogous situation in which susceptible pathogens dominated resistant pathogens and prevented them from spreading had to be interpreted in the same manner.

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