Economics of Biological Controls
Assessing the economic benefits and costs of imported biological control is difficult. Costs of research, quarantine, implementation, and overall organization are easy to measure, but many of the important benefits to agriculture and society are more difficult to quantify. The two obvious benefits of successful biological control projects may be seen in lower pest control costs to growers and increases in production. Even some partially successful projects (California red scale) requiring an occasional rerelease of natural enemies and the supplemental assistance of chemical and cultural controls may substantially reduce the total costs of control by 75% or more (DeBach, 1974). The total benefits to the ecosystem and the general public from lowered pesticide use are difficult to assess in monetary terms. What value can we place on a human life, a poisoned lake, contaminated groundwater, or future pesticide-induced cancers, mutations, or teratogenic effects? Taking a more practical view, biological control when successfully applied avoids many pesticide-induced problems such as pest resurgence, secondary pest outbreaks, phytotoxicity, pollinator mortality, pesticide resistance, and the above mentioned health problems. Clearly there is no easy way to estimate these benefits, but we all recognize that they are important. When an importation project is completely successful, the benefit accrues over future time, given continued production of one or more of the host crops.
KeywordsBiological Control Natural Enemy Classical Biological Control Black Scale Alfalfa Weevil
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