Researchers found that farmland across the country is 48 times more toxic to insect life than 25 years ago, and neonicotinoid pesticides account for a large majority of the increase in toxicity.
“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.”
The study suggests neonicotinoids are a major factor in the recent decline of insects, along with climate change and habitat destruction, leading scientist to warn of an “insect apocalypse.”
Insects, such as honey bees, are the world’s most important pollinator of food crops. It’s estimated that at least one-third of food consumed by humans relies on pollination mainly by bees, but also by other insects, birds, and bats.
Neonicotinoid usage has been linked to honey-bee colony collapse disorder and loss of birds due to a decline in insect populations.
The study found imidacloprid and clothianidin, produced by Bayer, and thiamethoxam, a product of Syngenta-ChemChina were the three neonicotinoids that contributed to the increasing toxic load in farmlands.
Last year, Europe banned three main neonicotinoids (clothianidin, imidacloprid, and thiamethoxam) for all farming activity. Several states in the US have also restricted farmers from using the chemicals, out of fear that it could further collapse the honey bee population.