Agriculture and Human Values

, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 303–310 | Cite as

Biological control and agricultural modernization: Towards resolution of some contradictions

  • Miguel A. Altieri
  • Peter M. Rosset
  • Clara I. Nicholls


An emergent contradiction in the contemporary development of biological control is that of the prevalence of the substitution of periodic releases of natural enemies for chemical insecticides and the dominance of biotechnologically developed transgenic crops. Input substitution leaves in place the monoculture nature of agroecosystems, which in itself is a key factor in encouraging pest problems. Biotechnology, now under corporate control, creates more dependency and can potentially lead to Bt resistance, thus excluding from the market a key biopesticide. Approaches for putting back biological control into the hands of farmers (from artesanal biotechnology for grassroots biopesticide production Cuban style to farmer-to-farmer IPM networks, etc.) have been developed as a way to create a farmer centered approach to biological control

Biological control Environmental policy IPM programs 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Altieri, M. A. (1991), “Classical biological control and social equity,” Bulletin of Entomological Research 81: 365–369.Google Scholar
  2. Altieri, M. A. (1993), Crop protection strategies for small farmers. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.Google Scholar
  3. Altieri, M. A. (1994), Biodiversity and pest management in agroecosystems. New York: Haworth Press.Google Scholar
  4. Altieri, M. A. (1995), Agroecology: The science of sustainable agriculture. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.Google Scholar
  5. Altieri, M. A., and R. Rosset (1996), “Agroecology and the conversion of large-scale conventional systems to conventional management,” International Journal of Environmental Studies 50: 165–185.Google Scholar
  6. Andow, D. A. (1991), “Vegetational diveristy and arthropod population response,” Annual Review of Entomology 35: 561–568.Google Scholar
  7. Belloti, A. C., C. Cardona, and S. L. Lapointe (1990), “Trends in pesticide use in Colombia and Brazil,” Journal of Agricultural Entomology 7: 191–201.Google Scholar
  8. Conway, G. R., and J. N. Pretty (1991), Unwelcome harvest: Agriculture and pollution. London: Earthscan Publishers.Google Scholar
  9. DeBach, P. (1964), Biological control of insect pests and weeds. New York: Reihold.Google Scholar
  10. DeBach, P., and D. Rosen (1991), Biological control by natural enemies, 2nd edn. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Entwistle, P. F. (1993), Bacillus thuringiensis: An environmental biopesticide. Chichester: John Wiley and Sons.Google Scholar
  12. Flint, M. L., and P. A. Roberts (1989), “Using crop diversity to manage pest problems: Some California examples,” American Journal of Alternative Agriculture 3: 164–167.Google Scholar
  13. Fry, G. (1995), “Landscape ecology of insect movement in arable ecosystems,” in: Ecology and Integrated Farming Systems. Proceedings of the 13th Long Ashton International Symposium, Bristol, Uk. New York: John Wiley and Sons.Google Scholar
  14. Fowler, C., and P. Mooney (1990), Shattering: Food, politics, and the loss of genetic diversity. Tucson: University of Arizona Press.Google Scholar
  15. Hagen, K. S., and J. M. Franz (1973), “A history of biological control,” in R. F. Smith et al. (eds.), History of entomology (pp. 433–476). Palo Alto, CA: Annual Reviews Inc.Google Scholar
  16. Hansen, M. (1987), Escape from the pesticide treadmill.New York: Consumers Union.Google Scholar
  17. Hindmarsh, R. (1991), “The flawed ‘sustainable’ promise of genetic engineering,” The Ecologist 21: 196–205.Google Scholar
  18. Hruska, A. J., and M. L. Pav´ on, eds. (1997), Trangenic plants. Bacillus thuringiensis in Mesoamerican agriculture.Honduras: Zamorano Academic Press.Google Scholar
  19. Huffaker, C. B., and P. S. Messenger (1976), Theory and practiceof biological control. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  20. Kloppenberg, J., and D. C. Kleinman (1987), “The plant germplasm controversy,” BioScience 37: 190–198.Google Scholar
  21. Laing, J. E., and J. Hamai (1976), “Biological control of insect pests and weeds by imported parasites, predators and pathogens,” in C. B. Huffaker, and P. S. Messenger (eds.), Theory and practice of biological control (pp. 686–744). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  22. Lampkin, N. (1990), Organic farming. Ipswich: Farming Press.Google Scholar
  23. Levins, R. (1973), “Fundamental and applied research in agriculture,” Science 181: 523–524.Google Scholar
  24. Luck, R. F. (1981), “Parasitic insects introduced as biological control agents for arthropod pests,” in D. Pimentel (ed.), Handbook of pest management in agriculture,Vol. II (pp. 125–284). Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.Google Scholar
  25. Murray, D. L. (1994). Cultivating crisis: The human costs of pes-ticides in Latin America. Austin: University of Texas Press.Google Scholar
  26. National Academy of Sciences (1972). Genetic vulnerability of major crops. Washington, DC: NAS.Google Scholar
  27. Repetto, R. (1985), Paying the price: Pesticide subsidies in developing countries. Washington, DC: World Resources Institute.Google Scholar
  28. Rissler, Jr., and M. Mellon (1996), The ecological risks of engineered crops. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  29. Rosset, P., and M. A. Altieri (1997), “Agroecology versus input substitution: a fundamental contradiction of sustainable agriculture,”Society and Natural Resources (in press).Google Scholar
  30. Rosset, P., and M. Benjamin (1994), The greening of the revolution: Cuba's experiment with organic agriculture. Melbourne (Australia): Ocean Press.Google Scholar
  31. Thrupp, L. A. (1996), New partnerships for sustainable agriculture. Washington, DC: World Resources Institute.Google Scholar
  32. Union of Concerned Scientists (1996), “Bt cotton fails to control bollworm,” The Gene Exchange7(1): 1, 8.Google Scholar
  33. Van den Bosch, R., P. S. Messenger, and A. P. Gutierrez (1982), An introduction to biological control. New York: Plenum Press.Google Scholar
  34. Vandermeer, J. (1995), “The ecological basis of alternative agriculture,” Annual Review Ecological Systems 26: 201–224.Google Scholar
  35. Van Driesche, R. G., and T. S. Bellows (1996), Biological control. New York: Chapman and Hall.Google Scholar
  36. Weir, D., and M. Shapiro (1981), Circle of poison. San Francisco: Institute for Food and Development.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Miguel A. Altieri
    • 1
  • Peter M. Rosset
    • 1
  • Clara I. Nicholls
    • 1
  1. 1.ESPM-Division of Insect BiologyUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA

Personalised recommendations