A detailed report on how beneficial insects and microorganisms, together with careful cultivation, can reduce the use of chemical pesticides. Only a small fraction of the massive doses of chemicals applied annually ever reach their insect or disease targets; the remainder leaches through the soil and ends up in our drinking water. Even the effective part can be counterproductive: by killing off natural predators and encouraging resistant strains, pesticides can actually increase infestation. Available alternatives include crop rotation, as well as the use of such species as ladybugs and nematodes. These organisms have additional virtues--they can rehabilitate soil damaged by oil and restore other natural balances. Still, it's estimated that fewer than 10% of commercial farmers use these techniques; instead, they rely on heavily promoted (and profitable) chemicals, with no clear federal guidance. This impressively researched book doesn't advocate the elimination of chemicals, but does make the case that productivity could be maintained or even increased with far lower concentrations, which would also provide a healthier environment. Gay touches on a wide range of subjects--bioengineering, birds, bats, weeds, etc.--them all in carefully balanced perspective. B&w photos; lists of relevant organizations and suppliers; glossary; extensive bibliography at several levels; index.