Although less pesticides are used in US agriculture, their toxicity to non-target species including honey bees has more than doubled in a decade, according to a new study.
The findings of a team of researchers from the German University of Koblenz-Landau were published Friday in the journal Science.
“We took a large amount of pesticide use data from the United States and showed changes in the amounts applied in agriculture over time as changes in the total toxicity of the pesticides applied,” explained Lead author Ralph Schultz, professor of environmental sciences at Landau, in a statement.
“This provides new insight into the potential consequences of using pesticides in agriculture on biodiversity and ecosystems,” he said.
The researchers studied changes in the use of 381 pesticides from 1992 to 2016 and analyzed the toxicity effects on eight groups of non-target species, extracting data from the US Geological Survey and the Environmental Protection Agency. They used EPA threshold values to determine the “total toxicity of applied pesticides”.
The scientists noted that less pesticides were used, which reduced the effects on vertebrates. But the same cannot be said for non-target species including aquatic invertebrates such as crustaceans and pollinators such as bees, which faced doubling of toxicity between 2005 and 2015 – a shift the authors put in the increased use of pesticides called pyrethroids and neonicotinoids.
Also worrying, the scientists said, is that the increase in herbicide toxicity is also on the rise, with the largest effect on terrestrial plants. The study indicated increased toxicity of widely grown corn and soybeans in GM crops in the United States.
Scholes said the findings “challenge claims to reduce the environmental impact of chemical pesticides on both conventional and GM crops and call for action to reduce the toxicity of pesticides applied in agriculture around the world.”
The study was released amid continuing concerns, nationally and internationally, about the widespread adverse environmental effects of neonicotinoids, or neonics, as they are sometimes called, especially medium Global regression In the numbers of insects that Threatens The future of mankind.
As Philip Donkersley, Senior Research Associate in Entomology at Lancaster University, Wrote This month in Conversation:
Since its introduction in the late 1980s, Strong scientific evidence It appeared to indicate the weakness of these chemicals Learning and memoryAnd Foraging behavior, And Pollination In bees. European Union Prohibited Neonicotinoid pesticides in 2019 and during the UK government Pledge To do the same He received a special exemption For sugar beet growers to use thiamethoxam as a neonicotinoid in January 2021. Fortunately, this is the case. Not used.
Since honey bees do not spend much time on land, neonicotinoid environmental risk assessments are frequently reported Neglected To look at how exposure to these chemicals in soil affects all pollinators. But in a historical study published in Temperate natureIn fact, researchers have shown how neonicotinoid pesticides affect bees not only through the accumulation in plants that pollinators visit, but on the ground where most wild bees build their nests.
Evidence suggests that the effects of neon are outpacing bees, including the possibility of this happening Mammals such as deer Those who eat it unintentionally.
as such Civil eats mentioned In the past month, concerns have led to continued calls for US regulators to take action to reduce or ban the use of neonix.
“It’s an issue that we’re definitely resolving, but it’s really an ecosystem issue. It’s a case of everything,” Daniel Reichel, an employee attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, told the outlet.
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