Land: North America

About 11 per cent of the world's agricultural croplands are in North America, producing food, fibre and other products both for the region's own needs and for export. Almost 20 per cent of the United States is covered by arable and permanent cropland and 26 per cent by permanent grassland or pastures (OECD 1999). Although only 7 per cent of Canada's land is devoted to agriculture, this represents virtually all the undeveloped land that is amenable to cultivation (Environment Canada 1996). Land degradation, associated with agricultural expansion, intensification and industrialization, is a concern in North America. One of the key issues associated with land degradation is the use of chemical pesticides, which have contributed to increased food production but have also had important environmental and human health effects.