Eco-Efficiency and Vulnerability of Agro-Ecosystems to Environmental Threats

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Eco-efficiency is based on environmental, social and economic principles, focusing not only on the use of fewer natural resources (raw materials) and energy but also on the cost-effective use of new technologies (eco-innovation) for the same volume of production and generation of low waste (efficient production). Agro-ecosystems globally, once with the development of the pesticide industry (plant protection products) and under the influence of aggressive marketing, have been based on the large-scale application of big amounts (perhaps too high) of pesticides. Many of the pesticides used in agriculture have a high persistence and degrade very slowly, which leads to the soil, water and even air pollution, with negative effects on plants, animals and, implicitly, humans. If these are used in short term and at low concentrations, pesticides can have beneficial effects (crop protection and their conservation and prevention of vector-borne disease) but in large quantities and applied over a long period of time can be toxic to humans and with a negative impact on the environment and ecosystems (degrading essential ecosystem services).

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