Pesticides of ConcernA growing body of science reveals that pesticides harm pollinators, people and the planet. The good news is, we have the solution!
Pesticides are a key driver of the insect apocalypse.
Research shows that agricultural pesticides – a term that encompasses insecticides, herbicides and fungicides – are one of the main drivers of insect declines worldwide, along with habitat loss and climate change. Forty percent of insect species face extinction in coming decades, leading scientists to warn of “catastrophic ecosystem collapse” if we don’t change the way we farm.
Many pesticides commonly used to grow food in the U.S. kill bees, butterflies and other beneficial insects. These same pesticides also harm human health. Among those of highest concern are neonicotinoids, chlorpyrifos and glyphosate.
But we can’t just focus on a few problematic pesticides at a time. Without a holistic shift to organic and regenerative farming, farmers will likely replace one harmful pesticide with another, a process known as regrettable substitution. For lists of regrettable substitutes, check out Friends of the Earth’s list of pesticides of concerns for pollinators and Pesticide Action Network’s list of Highly Hazardous Pesticides.
While other governments have followed the science and banned key pollinator-toxic pesticides, the U.S. government has been expanding use of pesticides that we know kill bees and harm people. The five largest pesticide manufacturers — Bayer-Monsanto, Dow-Dupont (Corteva), FMC , BASF and Syngenta — reaped $13.4 billion in profit in 2018. One third, or $4.8 billion, came from pesticides known to be highly toxic to bees and people.
The good news is we have the solution. Decades of research shows that we need a rapid shift to ecological agriculture in order to feed all people now and into the future while protecting the pollinators and other natural resources that our food system depends on.