Knowledge for better food systems

Insecticides put world food supplies at risk

The Worldwide Integrated Assessment (WIA) report on insecticides will shortly be published as a special issue of Environmental Science and Pollution Research.  In the report, the global group of researchers in the Task Force on Systemic Pesticides argue that insecticide use may already have caused severe harm to global food production through its  impacts on the environment.  The researchers look at the impacts and risks associated with neonicotinoids use. They argue that rather than protecting food production, the use of the insecticide is threatening the productivity of our natural and farmed environment.

The findings show that neonicotinoids pose a serious risk to honeybees and other pollinators such as butterflies and to a wide range of other invertebrates such as earthworms and vertebrates including birds. The researchers argue that there is clear evidence of harm sufficient to trigger regulatory action.

The report can be found on the website of the Task Force on Systemic Pesticides here, including main findings in different areas. TFSP will also publish updates as the special chapters become available in Environmental Science and Pollution Research (ESPR). The Guardian has a long article covering this research which you can read here, while the International Union for Conservation of Nature discusses it here.  For a recent evidence review, by the Oxford Martin School, of the impact of pesticides on bee numbers see here.

See more on the FCRN website on pesticide/insecticide use.


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While some of the food system challenges facing humanity are local, in an interconnected world, adopting a global perspective is essential. Many environmental issues, such as climate change, need supranational commitments and action to be addressed effectively. Due to ever increasing global trade flows, prices of commodities are connected through space; a drought in Romania may thus increase the price of wheat in Zimbabwe.

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