The risk posed to the environment by systemic pesticides known as neonicotinoids and fipronil has been discovered to be even more extensive than previously recognised.
These items present a serious risk of harm to pollinators such as honey bees and butterflies as well as to other invertebrates, such as earthworms and even birds, a study by the Task Force of Systemic Pesticides has revealed. Fish may also be damaged as a result of chemical run-off from farms.
Evidence of harm is so clear it may trigger regulatory action, according to the report, entitled the Worldwide Integrated Assessment.
In fact, many of the researchers have called for these chemicals to be banned.
“We are witnessing a threat to the productivity of our natural and farmed environment,”
~ Jean-Marc Bonmatin of France’s National Centre for Scientific Research (co-author of the report)
Researchers analysed two decades of reports on the topic and found these chemicals target the nerves of natural creatures that play a necessary role in a functioning ecosystem.
The effects of these pesticides on insects and other creatures can be instant and lethal or chronic. In some species, exposure can impair smell and memory, while in others it can curb procreation, reduce foraging, increase disease susceptibility and cause flight difficulties.
These pesticides are used in conventional farming to control pests and also for flea control in a more domestic situation.
Their widescale use has caused contamination of agricultural soils, wetlands, freshwater resources, non-target vegetation, estuarine and coastal marine systems across the globe.
This affects insects and researchers say there is a chance it could also affect mammals and reptiles, but this has not yet been confirmed.
However, farms producing organic free range meat may see an increase as people shy away from using chemicals in light of this research.