Agriculture Secretary Bob Bergland yesterday endorsed efforts to move farmers away from agricultural chemicals and toward natural biological controls to combat pests.

TAlthough the American farm has been made even more beautiful by the use of hundreds of chemicals to increase productivity, protect crops annd reduce labor requirements, he said, more than one billion pounds of pesticides are being released into the environment each year, and the time has come to look at their environmental impact.

Addressing the National Agricultural Chemicals Association, Bergland said the Agriculture Department itself didn't give adequate attention to eventual environmental and human consequences when heavy use of pesticides began. Now his department will take the responsibility of finding other mean of pest control and show the farmer that "they work and are economically sound."

Bergland also said some insects have begun to build up resistance to chemicals, the cost of pesticides and their application has risen sharply, "we've got to start being more realistic in these energy-short times about the use of oil and petroleum-based products," and "there appears to be an opportunity to help ease this nation's unemployment by using 'people power' instead of only chemicals in our fight against pests."