The energy crisis and the current world food situation have both drawn attention to the importance of off-farm inputs in high-technology agricultural systems. Plant pesticides are one of the most important of these off-farm inputs. The correct use of chemical pesticides requires a high level of managerial competence since the issues involved are extremely complex. The development of an integrated approach to the management of plant pests offers an alternative to the increasingly expensive chemical control techniques. Cotton production illustrates both the complexities of the management involved in plant pest control and the feasibility of developing integrated control strategies. Plant pesticides, especially insecticides, also create externalities. The policy issues surrounding the use of cotton insecticides demonstrates the need for careful analysis before political action is taken. A feasible package of policy measures for the control of the use of insecticides in Australian cotton-growing areas is suggested.