Pesticides Put World Food Supply at Risk
Common chemicals as bad as DDT, researchers say
By Rob Quinn, Newser Staff
Posted Jun 24, 2014 3:23 AM CDT
A crop dusting plane over a California field.   (AP Photo/Gary Kazanjian, FILE)

(Newser) – Pesticides aren't just killing off bees, they are threatening to kill a lot of people off as well by putting the world's food security at risk, a new study warns. Researchers say the evidence is now "very clear" that a common class of insecticides called neonicotinoids has contaminated the environment so heavily that creatures essential to food production, including bees and earthworms, are in grave danger. The pesticides are applied routinely, instead of in response to infestations, but researchers say there is a "striking" lack of evidence that the treatments do anything to increase crop yields. They also blame the chemicals for declines in bird populations—and for devastating water-based species like snails and dragonflies.

The researchers compare the impact of the pesticides first introduced around 20 years ago to that of DDT, which was phased out after the 1962 book Silent Spring revealed the damage it was doing to bird and insect life. "It is astonishing we have learned so little," one of the researchers tells the Guardian. "After Silent Spring revealed the unfortunate side-effects of those chemicals, there was a big backlash. But we seem to have gone back to exactly what we were doing in the 1950s. It is just history repeating itself. The pervasive nature of these chemicals mean they are found everywhere now." Pesticide manufacturers, however, say there is nothing new in the study and the researchers are selectively highlighting "worst-case scenarios," the BBC reports.

More From Newser
My Take on This Story
To report an error on this story,
notify our editors.
Pesticides Put World Food Supply at Risk is...
Show results without voting
You Might Like
Showing 3 of 15 comments
Jun 25, 2014 6:15 PM CDT
Notice how the chemical companies disguise those conclusions that happen to be consistent with their economic interests as some kind of legitimate science. They do it all the time and that is why I never listen to their side of the story.
Chris Farley
Jun 24, 2014 10:11 AM CDT
pestacide resistang GMO crops put the food supply in haz mat catagory
Jun 24, 2014 9:58 AM CDT
Bayer is just as bad as Monsanto in this case. In 2003, they released a neonicotinoid that killed a million beehives after it was sprayed on corn in the Midwest. Studies on the effects of these pesticides on humans have also shown they may cause autism, Parkinson's, and dementia, all of which are on the rise.