Pesticides are tools designed to deter or manage pests that threaten the health or quality of a particular plant, impact human health or pose a threat to physical structures. There are three primary types of pesticides related to agriculture:
There are many different kinds of pesticides to serve many purposes. Three of those uses are agricultural, urban and industrial.
Since the earliest days of agriculture 10,000-plus years ago, farmers have been working to improve the quality of plants by increasing yields and reducing unfavourable traits like tough skins or hard seeds. These forward-thinking ancestors were the first plant breeders. Today’s plant breeders have carried on this tradition by using plant breeding innovations such as biotechnology to identify genes, introduce beneficial genes, modify existing genes and remove detrimental ones with a range of very precise tools.
Genetic engineering, which produces genetically modified organisms (GMOs), is perhaps the most talked-about type of plant biotechnology. Genetic engineering is the process of very precisely moving favourable genes from one organism to another. Farmers in Canada first started growing genetically modified crops (what we now commonly refer to as GMOs) in 1996. Since then, these farmers have benefited from growing GMOs such as corn, canola and soybeans that are resistant to insects and herbicides, which dramatically improves weed control.
Genetic modification is just one form of plant biotechnology. Today plant breeders have access to a whole range of plant breeding innovations for creating better crops that are good for farmers, the environment and consumers.