Review Paper

Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics

, Volume 26, Issue 1, pp 207-230

First online:

Crop Protection Between Sciences, Ethics and Societies: From Quick-Fix Ideal to Multiple Partial Solutions

  • Coutellec LéoAffiliated withINSA de Lyon, UMR 5600 EVS-ITUS Email author 
  • , Bernard PintureauAffiliated withINSA de Lyon, UMR 5600 EVS-ITUS

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Crop protection has a very long history during which new methods have been developed whilst, at the same time, the older ones have retained their usefulness in certain conditions. The diversity of agricultural land and production has meant that it was futile to search for a unique and definitive approach or technical solution and, instead, the central concept has always been one of integration, during all the period of pre-Green Revolution and again today within what we call a sustainable agriculture. On a global level, it would seem that the current situation does not fundamentally contradict this idea. Nevertheless, in recent years (since the Second World War), two important advances, presented as the definitive solutions to problems and potentially exceeding previously less effective ones, have led to this integrative approach being questioned. These are agrochemistry and agro-genetics. We will detail, here, the agro-environmental limits of these two “miracle solutions,” followed by a review from an ethical and an epistemological point of view. This enables us to demonstrate the relevance of integrated approaches in agriculture and leads to a definition of crop protection that forms part of a strong approach in sustainable development. By changing the semantics, the epistemic position and our vision of production, we arrive at the proposal of sustainable agriculture.


Crop protection Agricultural and environmental ethics Integrated pest management Sustainable agriculture Epistemic pluralism