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Improving lives by solving problems in agriculture and the environment

A History of Pesticides

A History of Pesticides

Now Published!

By G Matthews, Professor Emeritus. Emeritus Professor, Imperial College London, UK

September 2018 / Hardback / 312 Pages / 9781786394873 £95.00 / €125.00 / $160.00
With 10% online discount: £85.50 / €112.50 / $144.00
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Main Description

In this fascinating book, Graham Matthews takes the reader through the history of the development and use of chemicals for control of pests, weeds, and vectors of disease.

Prior to 1900 only a few chemicals had been employed as pesticides but in the early 1940s, as the Second World War raged, the insecticide DDT and the herbicide 2-4-D were developed. These changed everything. Since then, farmers have been using a growing list of insecticides, herbicides and fungicides to protect their crops. Their use has undoubtedly led to significant gains in agricultural production and reduction in disease transmission, but also to major problems: health concerns for both users of pesticides and the general public, the emergence of resistance in pest populations, and environmental problems.

The book examines the development of legislation designed to control and restrict the use of pesticides, the emergence of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and the use of biological control agents as part of policy to protect the environment and encourage the sustainable use of pesticides.

Finally, the use of new technologies in pest control are discussed including the use of genetic modification, targeted pesticide application and use of drones, alongside basic requirements for IPM such as crop rotations, close seasons and adoption of plant varieties with resistance to pests and diseases.


Suitable for students of crop protection and pest management specialists, scientists working in the pesticides industry, countryside managers, members of NGOs and environmental campaign groups, conservationists and amateur naturalists.

  • Prologue: Before Pesticides
  • 1: Pesticides in the Early Part of the 20th Century
  • 2: Application of Pesticides
  • 3: Insecticides Post-1950
  • 4: Herbicides
  • 5: Fungicides
  • 6: Other Pesticides
  • 7: Resistance to Pesticides
  • 8: Integrated Pest Management
  • 9: Health Issues
  • 10: Regulations and the Manufacturers of Pesticides and Related Organizations
  • 11: Pesticides – the Future
  • Annex: Common Name and Major Trade Name of Selected Pesticides
The book provides a sound grounding on pesticides and their use and how understanding of them, their advantages and risks, and alternatives have developed. I would recommend to all who wish to understand how pesticides have developed, the forces driving that development and to assist in future debate.

Keith Jones, December 2018