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We Have To Roll Back The Tide of Pesticide Use Before It's Too Late

The blatant disregard over the use of these substances by regulatory agencies around the world is apparent.

10/26/2017 15:35 EDT | Updated 10/26/2017 18:01 EDT
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An anthropogenic mass extinction is underway that will affect all life on the planet and humans will struggle to survive the phenomenon. So says Rosemary Mason in a 2015 paper in the Journal of Biological Physics and Chemistry. Loss of biodiversity is the most urgent of the environmental problems because this type of diversity is critical to ecosystem services and human health. Mason argues that the modern chemical-intensive industrialized system of food and agriculture is the main culprit.

New research conducted in Germany supports the contention that we are heading for an "ecological Armageddon" — similar to the situation described by Mason. The study shows the abundance of flying insects has plunged by three-quarters over the past 25 years. The research data was gathered in nature reserves across Germany and has implications for all landscapes dominated by agriculture as it seems likely that the widespread use of pesticides is an important factor.

Cited in The Guardian (see previous link), Sussex University professor Dave Goulson, who is part of the team behind the new study, says, "We appear to be making vast tracts of land inhospitable to most forms of life... If we lose the insects then everything is going to collapse."

In the same piece, it is noted that flying insects are vital because they pollinate flowers. Moreover, many, not least bees, are important for pollinating key food crops. Most fruit crops are insect-pollinated and insects also provide food for many animals, including birds, bats, some mammals, fish, reptiles and amphibians. Flies, beetles and wasps are also predators and important decomposers, breaking down dead plants and animals, and insects form the base of thousands of food chains.

The blatant disregard over the use of these substances by regulatory agencies around the world is apparent.

Rosemary Mason has been providing detailed accounts of massive insect declines on her own nature reserve in South Wales for some time. She has published first-hand accounts of the destruction of biodiversity on the reserve in various books and documents that have been submitted to relevant officials and pesticide regulation authorities in the U.K. and beyond. The research from Germany validates her findings.

Mason has written numerous open letters to officials citing reams of statistical data to support the contention that agrochemicals, especially Monsanto's glyphosate-based Roundup, have devastated the natural environment and have also led to spiralling rates of illness and disease, especially among children.

She indicates how the widespread use on agricultural crops of neonicotinoid insecticides and the herbicide glyphosate, both of which cause immune suppression, make species vulnerable to emerging infectious pathogens, driving large-scale wildlife extinctions, including essential pollinators.

Providing evidence to show how human disease patterns correlate remarkably well with the rate of glyphosate usage on corn, soy and wheat crops, which has increased due to 'Roundup Ready' crops, Mason indicates how our over-reliance on chemicals in agriculture is causing irreparable harm to all beings on this planet.

Chaiwat Subprasom/Reuters
A farmer sprays pesticide over a rice field in Nakhonsawan province, north of Bangkok, Thailand, Feb. 21, 2016.

The global pesticides industry has created chemicals of mass destruction and succeeded in getting many of their poisons on the commercial market by highly questionable means:

"The EPA has been routinely lying about the safety of pesticides since it took over pesticide registrations in 1970," writes Carol Van Strum.

Van Strum highlights the faked data and fraudulent tests that led to many highly toxic agrochemicals reaching the market — and they still remain in use, regardless of the devastating impacts on wildlife and human health.

The blatant disregard over the use of these substances by regulatory agencies around the world is apparent.

The research from Germany follows a warning by a chief scientific adviser to the U.K. government who claimed that regulators around the world have falsely assumed that it is safe to use pesticides at industrial scales across landscapes and the "effects of dosing whole landscapes with chemicals have been largely ignored."

And prior to that particular warning, there was a report delivered to the UN Human Rights Council saying that pesticides have catastrophic impacts on the environment, human health and society as a whole. Authored by Hilal Elver, special rapporteur on the right to food, and Baskut Tuncak, special rapporteur on toxics, the report states, "Chronic exposure to pesticides has been linked to cancer, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, hormone disruption, developmental disorders and sterility."

Elver says:

"The power of the corporations over governments and over the scientific community is extremely important. If you want to deal with pesticides, you have to deal with the companies."

The report recommends a move towards a global treaty to govern the use of pesticides and (like many other official reports) a shift to sustainable practice based on natural methods of suppressing pests and crop rotation and organically produced food.

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Rachel Carson's book Silent Spring (1962) raised the red flag about the use of harmful synthetic pesticides, yet, despite the warnings, the agrochemical giants have ever since been conning us with snake oil under the pretense of "feeding the world." When you drench soil with proprietary synthetic chemicals, introduce company-patented genetically tampered crops or continuously monocrop as part of a corporate-controlled industrial farming system, you kill essential microbes, upset soil balance and end up feeding soil a limited "doughnut diet" of unhealthy inputs.

In their arrogance (and ignorance), these companies claim to know what they are doing and attempt to get the public and various agencies to bow before the altar of corporate 'science' and its scientific priesthood.

Modern farming is in effect a principal source of global toxification and soil degradation.

Chemical-intensive Green Revolution technology and ideology has effectively uprooted indigenous/traditional agriculture across the planet and has recast farming according to the needs of global agribusiness and its supply chains. This has had devastating effects on regions, rural communities, diets, soils, health and water pollution. However, this financially lucrative venture for transnational corporations continues apace, spearheaded by the Gates Foundation in Africa and the World Bank's "enabling the business of agriculture."

It took a long time to curtail the activities of big tobacco. Tackling big agribusiness and its entrenchment within the heart of governments and international institutions is urgent. Unfortunately, given the scale of the problem and what is at stake, time is not on our side.

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