Pesticides: threat to Ecosystem

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Bird populations are at risk from eating crop seeds treated with systemic insecticides PHOTO BY KAHLIL PANOPIO

Bird populations are at risk from eating crop seeds treated with systemic insecticides PHOTO BY KAHLIL PANOPIO

Haribon Foundation recently attended the global launch of the scientific report “Worldwide Integrated Assessment of the Impact of Systematic Pesticides on Biodiversity and Ecosystems” (WIA) by the Task Force on Systemic Pesticides (TFSP) at the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources-Biodiversity Management Bureau.

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Dr. Maarten Bijleveld van Lexmond, chairman of TFSP, was also at the launch to support the findings of the report.

The report is a systematic meta-analysis of over 800 scientific studies of the effects of systemic pesticides on biodiversity and ecosystem services. TFSP is a group of globally independent scientists that have found clear evidence of harmful chemicals sufficient to trigger regulatory action.

Concern about the systemic pesticides on a variety of beneficial species has been growing for the last 20 years, however, the science has not been considered conclusive until now.

The analysis, to be published in the peer reviewed journal “Environment Science and Pollution Research,” finds that neonics pose a serious risk to honeybees and other pollinators such as butterflies and other invertebrates and vertebrates such as earthworms and birds.

According to one of lead authors of WIA, Dr. Jean-Marc Bonmatin of the National Center for Scientific Research in France, “Far from protecting food production, the use of neonics is threatening the very infrastructure which enables it, imperiling the pollinators, habitat engineers, and natural pest controllers at the heart of a functioning system.”

Among the most affected groups of species were terrestrial invertebrates such as earthworms, followed by insect pollinators such as bees and butterflies, then aquatic invertebrates such as freshwater snails and water fleas. Fish, amphibians, microbes were all found to be affected too by prolonged exposure to neonics.

According to van Lexmond, “The findings of the WIA are gravely worrying. We can now clearly see that neonics and fipronil pose a risk to ecosystem functioning and services which go far beyond concerns around one species, and which really must warrant government action and regulatory attention.”

The research authors strongly suggest that regulatory agencies apply more precautionary principles and further tighten regulations on neonicotinoids and fipronil (neonics) and start planning for a global phase-out or at least start formulating plans for a strong reduction of the global scale for use.

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