Pesticides are used to eliminate the presence of pests, any living thing that causes injury or disease to crops. Although many kinds of pesticides are used in agriculture, they can be categorized into simple groups according to the pest they are targeting. Herbicides are used to kill weeds, any non-desired plant that interferes with the growth of crops. Fungicides are used to protect agricultural plants from fungal diseases. Insecticides are used to kill insects that eat crops or stored grains. Other pesticides target snails, slugs, mites, rodents, and birds.
Very large quantities of pesticides are used in modern agriculture. Globally, about 4.4 to 6.6 billion pounds (2 to 3 billion kilograms) of pesticides are used each year, at a total cost of about $20 billion. The United States alone accounts for about one-third of all pesticide usage.
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