Deployed to destroy pests, they also harm human health.
Thirty years ago, in the summertime, anybody driving a long distance would have to stop every two hours or so to clear their windshield of insects. Today, a driver can cross the whole of Europe without using the windshield wiper even once. That’s because the total biomass of flying insects has declined by about 75% since the 1990s.
The culprit? The massive use of neonicotinoids, so-called "systemic" insecticides that spread throughout plant cells. They look like colorful candy and seem harmless, but they have a highly toxic effect.
As more and more scientific studies warn of the catastrophic consequences of the use of these neurotoxins, multinational chemical companies are doing everything they can to cover up the causal link between their products and mass insect death. They fund dubious studies, put pressure on scientists and research institutions, lobby regulatory authorities intensively, and work hard to prevent or circumvent restrictions and bans.
Meanwhile, insect death is progressing at an unprecedented rate. And because insects play a central role in food chains, both as pollinators and as food for larger animals, their decimation is affecting entire ecosystems. Fish and birds are running out of food, which increases their own mortality rates. What’s more, recent studies show that the chemicals also impact human health.
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