Plants and insects are threatened by the increasing toxicity of pesticides in agricultural activities
“We obtained a lot of pesticide use data from the United States , And express the change in the amount of application in agriculture over time as the change in the total applied pesticide toxicity,” said lead author Ralf Schulz, Landau Professor of Environmental Sciences. “This provides a new perspective on the potential consequences of pesticide use in agriculture on biodiversity and ecosystems.”
From 1992 to 2016, the use of pesticides in agriculture in the United States has increased Significantly reduced by more than 40%. Fish, mammals, and birds face lower drug toxicity than in the 1990s, because pesticides that exhibit high vertebrate toxicity, such as organophosphates, are used less today. However, aquatic invertebrates and pollinators, such as honeybees, have experienced the opposite: despite the decrease in application rates, the toxicity of these species groups more than doubled between 2005 and 2015. The switch to pyrethroid and neonicotinoid insecticides used is the reason for this trend.
The application toxicity of herbicides is also increasing, and the application amount is also increasing. In this case, terrestrial plants are facing the highest increase in applied toxicity. Plants and pollinators are closely related ecologically. Therefore, if the applied toxicity of these two groups increases at the same time, it may have a strong overall negative impact on the biodiversity of plants and insects.
The development of genetically modified crops is to reduce agriculture’s dependence on the use of chemical pesticides. However, the new research results clearly show that even in the two most important genetically modified crops in the United States-corn and soybeans, with the increase in the use of genetically modified plants, the application of toxicity has increased at the same rate as conventional crops.
According to the author, the results of the study may be applicable to many other areas dominated by modern agriculture, although generally, the comprehensive assessment data of applied toxicity trends are not public. These results challenge the claim that chemical pesticides in traditional and genetically modified crops have reduced environmental impact and call for action to reduce the toxicity of pesticides used in global agriculture.