The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Alarming Decline of Insect Population Linked to Toxic Pesticides in U.S. Agriculture
blueflames / E+ / Getty Images
By Jake Johnson
The rapid and dangerous decline of the insect population in the United States — often called an "insect apocalypse" by scientists — has largely been driven by an increase in the toxicity of U.S. agriculture caused by the use of neonicotinoid pesticides, according to a study published Tuesday in the journal PLOS One.
The study found that American agriculture has become 48 times more toxic to insects over the past 25 years and pinned 92 percent of the toxicity increase on neonicotinoids, which were banned by the European Union last year due to the threat they pose to bees and other pollinators.
Kendra Klein, Ph.D., study co-author and senior staff scientist at Friends of the Earth, said the U.S. must follow Europe's lead and ban the toxic pesticides before it is too late.
"It is alarming that U.S. agriculture has become so much more toxic to insect life in the past two decades," Klein said in a statement. "We need to phase out neonicotinoid pesticides to protect bees and other insects that are critical to biodiversity and the farms that feed us."
"Congress must pass the Saving America's Pollinators Act to ban neonicotinoids," Klein added. "In addition, we need to rapidly shift our food system away from dependence on harmful pesticides and toward organic farming methods that work with nature rather than against it."
NEW STUDY: Neonic pesticides are a significant driver of the 'insect apocalypse'.— Friends of the Earth (@foe_us) August 6, 2019
Insect abundance has declined 45%. This is a global crisis — we must ban neonics to #SaveTheBees!https://t.co/1DMpzFUArK
According to National Geographic, neonics "are used on over 140 different agricultural crops in more than 120 countries. They attack the central nervous system of insects, causing overstimulation of their nerve cells, paralysis, and death."
With insect populations declining due to neonic use, "the numbers of insect-eating birds have plummeted in recent decades," National Geographic reported. "There's also been a widespread decline in nearly all bird species."
As Common Dreams reported in February, scientists warned in a global analysis that by decimating insect populations, widespread use of pesticides poses a serious threat to the planet's ecosystems and ultimately to the survival of humankind.
Klein said the "good news" is that neonics are not at all necessary for food production.
"We have four decades of research and evidence that agroecological farming methods can grow our food without decimating pollinators," said Klein.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
An area in Louisiana whose predominantly black and brown residents are hard-hit by health problems from industry overdevelopment is experiencing one of the highest death rates from coronavirus of any county in the United States.
A central player in the fight against the novel coronavirus is our immune system. It protects us against the invader and can even be helpful for its therapy. But sometimes it can turn against us.
Calling someone a delicate flower may not sting like it used to, according to new research. Scientists have found that many delicate flowers are actually remarkably hearty and able to bounce back from severe injury.
With global air travel at a near standstill, the airline industry is looking to rewrite the rules it agreed to tackle global emissions. The Guardian reports that the airline is billing it as a matter of survival, while environmental activists are accusing the industry of trying to dodge their obligations.
The outbreak of COVID-19 across the U.S. has touched every facet of our society, and our democracy has been no exception.