Scientists in France made the discovery. 

farmers cut pesticides
Credit: © Rodger Shagam / / Getty Images

Scientists may have just disproven the long held belief that pesticides are necessary for highly productive and profitable farms.

The researchers on the project, published in Nature Plants this March, studied the pesticide use, productivity and profitability of 1,000 farms across France. Not only did they find that production would not suffer on 94 percent of farms if they stopped using pesticides, but even more shockingly, that 78 percent of farms would be equally or more profitable if they used less pesticides on their crops.

The study is a strong rebuke to the myth that pesticides are a necessity for well-functioning farms, but it’s not the first study to come after the billion dollar pesticide industry: In January of this year, the UN issued a report stating that pesticides cause “catastrophic impacts on the environment and human health,” and accusing pesticide companies of refusing to acknowledge how harmful these chemicals can be. A couple of months later, the Guardian reported that Europe is hoping to ban insecticides that threaten the bee population.

Although mounting research points to the fact that pesticides don't make for good crops, the Guardian reports that most farms in Europe still use them. One EPA report states that 1 billion tons of pesticides are used in the U.S. every year.

Nicolas Munier-Jolain, of France’s National Institute for Agricultural Research, who helped write the study, told the Guardian that farmers aren’t getting advice on how to replace pesticides.

“A large proportion of advice is provided by organizations that are both selling the pesticides and collecting the crops. I am not sure the main concern of these organizations is to reduce the amount of pesticide used,” he said.

Regardless, France is currently on the hook to reduce their pesticide use by a whopping 50 percent. The change was supposed to come in 2018, but the deadline has been pushed back to 2025.

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The study’s authors, however, don’t think there’s any time to waste.

“The reduction of pesticide use is one of the critical drivers to preserve the environment and human health,” they wrote.