Climate change linked to fewer bugs, study finds

Via Flickr

Simone Garza | April 25, 2022

A new study shows insects that are vital for supporting food chains and pollinating plants are declining in population.

On April 20, Nature journal reported factors like agriculture and global warming are affecting a wide variety of insects. Regions that were documented with climate change and redeveloped for agriculture, including the use of monoculture of pesticides, had less than 50 percent of insects. An average slightly over 25 percent of species were also found.

The study included collected data from 264 formerly published biodiversity studies. The studies had about 18,000 species, like grasshoppers, butterflies, beetles and bees. Insects such as Ladybugs and Praying Mantis, can limit plant pests

Other insects, like ants and caterpillars, can provide vitamins, minerals and protein.

David Wagner, a University of Connecticut entomologist who is not connected to the study, said insects tether everything together.

“If you remove the insects from the planet, basically life as we know it would grind to a halt. We would not have as much soil manufacture,” Wagner said. “There would be no bird life. There would be little food produced on land. We would lose many of our fruits and agricultural crops.”  Wagner has done previous research on decreasing insect populations, reporting that one percent to two percent of insects are decrying due to invasive species, herbicides, insecticides and mild pollution.

Pesticides can affect reproduction of pollinators on memory-loss and navigation. Pesticides can also contaminate the environment, like water and soil, becoming an unsafe host to birds, fish, and untargeted plants.

EPA approves use of Dow’s ‘Enlist Duo’ herbicide in Iowa

Farmers lauded the EPA’s decision to approve the new weed-resistant herbicide while environmentalists are leery of the potential health effects. (Wikimedia)

Nick Fetty | October 16, 2014

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday approved a controversial herbicide for use in Iowa and five other states.

The agency gave the green light to Dow’s Enlist Duo weed killer which will be used in conjunction with the company’s corn and soy bean seeds that were approved by the Department of Agriculture in September. The herbicide is engineered to combat resistant and other resilient weeds. To avoid pesticide drift and other potential hazards, the EPA has implemented a 30-foot no spray buffer zone around application areas, forbids application when winds speeds exceed 15 miles per hour, and disallows the use of aircrafts to apply the pesticide to fields.

Critics fear that the weedkiller could have detrimental effects for humans as well as the environment. Within hours of EPA’s decision, the Natural Resources Defense Council filed suit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to disallow use of the herbicide citing the potential health effects for humans as well as monarch butterfly populations.

“The agency evaluated the risks to all age groups, from infants to the elderly, and took into account exposures through food, water, pesticide drift, and as a result of use around homes,” the EPA said in a press release. “The decision meets the rigorous Food Quality Protection Act standard of ‘reasonable certainty of no harm’ to human health.”

The herbicide has been approved for use in Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. The EPA is considering approving use of the herbicide in 10 other states: Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and North Dakota.

The EPA has released the full report (EPA-HQ-OPP-2014-0195-2418) as well as frequently asked questions about the new herbicide.

On the Radio: The USDA’s attention to new seeds

Photo by United Soybean Board; Flickr

This week’s On the Radio segment covers the USDA’s exploration into stronger, herbicide-resistant seeds. Listen to the audio below, or continue reading for the transcript.

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