Ecological Impacts of Toxic Chemicals

Ecological Impacts of Major Forest-Use Pesticides

Author(s): Dean G. Thompson

Pp: 88-110 (23)

DOI: 10.2174/978160805121211101010088


Assessing the potential for ecological impacts of pesticides requires a hierarchical approach with research ranging from simple laboratory to complex field experiments and operational monitoring. While all levels of study provide useful information, higher tier research has inherently greater environmental relevance and inference potential. In this chapter, selected higher tier studies relating to the use of herbicides glyphosate and triclopyr, as well as the insecticides Bacillus thuringiensis var. kurstaki (Btk) and diflubenzuron in the forest sector are reviewed. These case examples illustrate scenarios in which higher tier studies either negate or support the presumptions of risk derived from results of lower tier experiments. Specifically, assessment of the cases for glyphosate and Btk support their continued judicious use as environmentally acceptable components of integrated vegetation and insect pest management strategies. In contrast, higher level studies confirm risk postulates associated with typical forest-sector use patterns for triclopyr ester and diflubenzuron. Mitigation measures are required to ensure that use of these latter compounds do not pose undue risk to sensitive non-target organisms. In a broader context, the ecological implications of pesticide use in the forest sector must be considered in light of the fact that any management action, including the “no intervention” option, carries both economic and ecological risk. Strict adherence to the weight of scientific evidence principle, incorporation of knowledge gained from all levels of investigation, and a balanced assessment of relative risks of all potential options are considered primary requisites of comprehensive risk analysis and effective decision making.

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