This paper explores a strange paradox. After the fall of the Soviet system, Kazakhstan became strongly incorporated in a world that highly values sustainable agriculture and ecologically-friendly pest control. In this incorporation process, however, the country abandoned a well-established integrated pest management (IPM) system and shifted to an exclusive reliance on pesticides. This study analyses the development of IPM/ecology-based pest-control approaches in the 1970s and 1980s in the USSR, providing some detailed case studies in the Republic of Kazakhstan. It examines how these sustainable approaches to pest control were replaced by an indiscriminate pesticide use in farming practices after independence in 1991. The focus of plant protection research also shifted from IPM/ecology-based studies to pesticide testing. The paper reveals that the nature of institutional support from the state shapes the rise and fall of IPM, particularly since it is crucial for addressing the knowledge-intensive character of IPM and governing situations in which concerted action is needed.