—Pesticide use has become more toxic to invertebrates “Even as farmers apply lower amounts of pesticides, their total toxicity has increased for pollinators and other invertebrates” Pesticide use in the US became significantly more toxic for invertebrates from 1992 through 2016 (Science 2021, DOI: 10.1126/science.abe1148). During this period, agriculture shifted away from carbamate and organophosphorus pesticides, which are toxic to birds and mammals, to pyrethroids and neonicotinoids (examples of each shown), which are far less so. The newer chemicals are more potent, which means farmers can apply much less pesticide per hectare to get the same results. Decreasing total pesticide mass doesn’t guarantee an environmental benefit, however, says University Koblenz-Landau ecotoxicologist Ralf Schulz, one of the leaders of the new study. His group drew on government data cataloguing pesticide use in the US. The researchers then used species-specific toxicology data to estimate the impact of real-world pesticide use on plants and animals.
by Katherine Bourzac |
April 03, 2021