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I'm confused about the meaning of "to" in below sentence:

Despite heavy use of pesticides, significant losses to diseases and insect pests are sustained each year.

I'm not sure whether it means "because", since I never use it in this way.

Is there any example with similar usage?

Thanks!

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    Better would be "due to" or "attributed to". – DavidC Sep 5 '15 at 17:32
  • Where did you see this citation? It could be a typo. I'm inclined to agree with @DavidCarraher that due to makes more sense. – Mari-Lou A Sep 5 '15 at 18:27
  • @David Carraher As JEL says, 'losses to [thing causing the loss]' is quite acceptable. It mirrors the 'City lost to United' usage. – Edwin Ashworth Sep 5 '15 at 18:32
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    @Mari-LouA With have/bear, yes, quite unusual. With suffer/sustain, it's the norm I'd say, and even more so with the verb lose itself. You don't lose someone due to/because of cancer, you lose them to cancer. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Sep 5 '15 at 19:28
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The use of "losses to [causal agent]" is common, and will be readily understood by most speakers of English.

Other examples:

1954 Jrnl. Operations Res. Soc. Amer. 2 10 The actual figures were used from World War II campaigns for forces dispatched, aborts, losses to enemy aircraft and ground fire, operational losses, [etc.].

(From the cited source; quote via the OED.)

There are certainly more losses to diseases and pests today....

(From "Putting the Hive back to Mother Natures Height".)

The cursory research I completed suggests the uses are most common with reference to agricultural and husbandry losses, but as the first quote (above) suggests, the uses are by no means restricted to such losses.

Edit

Further research reveals that the construction is also common with reference to military losses, as suggested by Edwin Ashworth in the comments on your question and by the first quote I give above.

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You might replace losses to diseases and insect pests" by "losses due to diseases and insect pests". This use of "to", though understandable, is a bit unusual in my view. It is not registered in Longman DCE, to, preposition, number 1-22. http://www.ldoceonline.com/dictionary/to_2

  • It’s not unusual at all to suffer/sustain a loss to something like a disease. It is perhaps more common to use lose the verb (“We lost her to cancer”) than loss the noun, but the two share many properties, not least their affinity with the preposition to. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Sep 5 '15 at 19:21

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