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Chemicals pesticides: mode of action and toxicology
  1. R Fielder

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    Jorgen Stenersen, CRC Press, 2004, $79.95, pp 296. ISBN 0748409106

    This book reviews chemical pesticides on the basis of their mode of action; it provides a useful introduction to this area.

    In the introductory chapter consideration is given to how a chemical may be poisonous. This provides an overview of the way chemicals may cause death from a biochemical perspective. Seven deadly routes are considered. Although this may be a useful generic approach I question the value of considering DNA reactive substances in the same category as corrosive substances on the basis that they all destroy tissue, DNA, or protein. I was also disappointed at the emphasis given in section 2.2.4 to the LD50 as a measure of acute toxicity with no mention that these tests have now been superseded by approaches that do not require the calculation of an LD50 value.

    The key chapters of this book are those concerned with the mode of action of pesticides. These cover interference with processes important to all organisms (mainly the older non-selective pesticides), specific enzyme inhibitors (for example, organophosphorus and carbamate insecticides, azole fungicides, glyphosate herbicide), interference with signal transduction in nerves (for example, organochlorines, pyrethroids, avermectin), and pesticides that act as signal molecules (for example, the juvenile hormone agonist methoprene, the ecdysteroid agonist tebufenozide, pheromones). There is also a short chapter on the toxins produced by Bacillus thuringiensis.

    There are also chapters on translocation and degradation of pesticides and the important issue of the development of resistance to pesticides.

    The final chapter of this book gives a very brief overview of the toxicity of pesticides and I wonder if this was really necessary. The coverage of the tests required is inevitably superficial and incomplete. For example, the section on the tests required for official approval only covers the testing for health effects, despite the chapter being entitled pesticides as environmental hazards.

    The main chapters of this book, however, give an interesting overview of the mode of action of chemical pesticides, and provide a good introduction to this area.