The new DDT
Regardless of the ban on DDT, the world has fallen under the spell of other industrial agricultural chemicals since then. Insecticides are popular because they make agriculture efficient and food production more abundant, but as insecticides accumulate in the environment, killing off birds and bees, are they really worth it in the long run? 70 percent of flowering plants rely on pollinators. What happens when bees aren't around to keep the balance of the universe alive?
Right now, the world faces the dangers of a new class of insecticides known as neonicotinoids. These insecticides, similar to DDT, have been licensed and unleashed widespread before proper ecological safety testing. Evidence now shows that these poisons are destroying the natural world like never before, wiping out the great honey bee pollinators.
5 nanograms of neonicotinoid kills 1 in 2 bees
Applied to the seeds of crops, neonicotinoids remain in the plants as they grow, killing insects that try to take a bite. Studies show that when farmers treat crops, the plants absorb between 1.6 and 20 percent of the neonicotinoid insecticide. When honeybees are exposed to just 5 nanograms of neonicotinoid from the plant's pollen nectar, it has been observed that about 1 in 2 die off. Consequently, this makes neonicotinoids 10,000 times more powerful than DDT.
Since a very small proportion of neonicotinoid actually makes it into the pollen nectar, the makers of the chemicals believe these insecticides have minimal impact on pollinators. On the surface, the large chemical sprays seem to be safe, but what happens to the rest of the chemical that is not absorbed by the plants?
90 percent or more of neonicotinoids ravage the soil ecosystem
Professor Dave Goulson points out that insecticides have an even greater impact on the soil ecosystem. He says that while some residue blows off as dust, "typically more than 90 percent" enters the soil.
How might this affect future ecosystems and the quality of soil for years to come?
The chain reaction leeches neonicotinoids into soil fauna, affecting earthworms and the birds and mammals that feast on the poisoned worms and insects.
As governments approve the widespread use of these poisons, not acknowledging the consequences, they are openly inviting the mass devastation of insects and birds.
Poison infused seeds, crops, insects, soil, and birds ultimately affect human life as well.
Slow, subtle poisoning of humans
As cancer rates rise, it is obvious the chemical generation is a poisoned generation, unable to avoid a mass onslaught of chemical-laced food and air.
As insecticides penetrate every living creature, accumulating in cell tissue, they poison the DNA of life. As cancer rates spike, the medical industry will continue bursting at the seams with chemotherapy patients who can only wait, holding a death sentence in their hands. Cancer awareness continues to parade itself in colorful ribbons, but the truth is being swept under the rug as chemicals poison the masses.
EPA finds no 'imminent hazard'
In the United States, the EPA defines an imminent hazard "as harm that will occur within the one to two years necessary to complete cancellation proceedings."
Even as US beekeepers report a 30 percent population decline in bees since 2006, neonicotinoids still don't present an "imminent hazard," according to the EPA. In fact, the EPA recently rejected a March 2013 petition that called for the suspension of the neonicotinoid, clothianidin.
Even though 70 percent of flowering plants depend on pollinators, the EPA doesn't believe the 30% bee colony reduction will collapse the food and energy infrastructure in the next two years. The EPA commented that clothianidin only has "acute effects" on bees.
When the neonicontionoid clothianidin went on the market in 2003, concerned scientists pushed for conditional registration and further safety studies, but Bayer's new chemical was found to be very efficient for agricultural purposes and went mainstream fast. Studies on its ecological effects weren't conducted until 2007, as the EPA carved a path for full registration of the poison in 2010. Even as EPA memos revealed that the Bayer safety study on clothianidin was inadequate, the poison was further allowed to wreak its havoc. Now, an EPA review of neonicotinoid safety has been pushed off until 2018, as the world prepares to soak up a little more of this poison in the years to come.
Sources for this article include: