Ecologists Record Increase in Use of Carcinogenic Pesticides That Kill Endangered Species
03:15 GMT 08.03.2022 (Updated: 13:35 GMT 06.08.2022)
© Sputnik / Viktor TolochkoGrain crops harvesting
© Sputnik / Viktor Tolochko/
Pesticides used in agriculture are toxic not only to harmful organisms, but also to humans and animals, and pose a danger to the environment. If the technology standards for their use are not observed, these chemicals inevitably cause profound changes in the entire ecosystem.
About 235 pounds of toxic herbicides and insecticides were sprayed over corn and soy crops for the production of feed crops for farmed animals across the US, with some of them being particularly harmful to humans, animals and plants, according to a report by World Animal Protection and the Center for Biological Diversity.
The use of the six chemicals and one class of chemicals highlighted in the report has increased in recent years. The herbicide most frequently used on feed crops in 2018 was glyphosate, the main component of the common weedkiller Roundup. A total of 100 million pounds of it were used on corn and soy fields.
Meanwhile, a number of researchers have showed that glyphosate increases the risk of cancer by 40 percent. It also “is likely to harm, injure or kill 93 percent of the plants and animals protected under the Endangered Species Act and adversely modifies critical habitat for 759 endangered species.”
“More than 13,000 lawsuits have been filed in the US alleging that the pesticide causes non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer has said that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic to humans,” the report says.
The second most common chemical used was atrazine, increasing by 17 percent from 2012 to 2018, up to 60 million pounds. Despite its popularity in the US, “atrazine has been banned in 35 countries, including a ban in the EU due to persistent groundwater contamination.”
In countries where the use of atrazine is still permitted, it is used for selective weed control in corn, asparagus, potato and tomato fields.
“Atrazine is regularly detected in streams in the US and research demonstrates its ability to alter reproductive health in amphibians. Atrazine use is likely to harm over 1,000 protected species — 56 percent of all endangered plants and animals in the US including the highly endangered whooping crane, the San Joaquin kit fox, and the California red-legged frog,” the document says.
World Animal Protection and the Center for Biological Diversity are concerned over the uncontrolled use of pesticides, whose use will only increase if no new regulations are implemented.
“Meat and dairy companies consume resources, such as feed crops and the land used to grow them, at unsustainable rates to create calorie-dense diets for the billions of farmed animals raised in the U.S. each year,” Cameron Harsh, programs director at World Animal Protection US, told The Hill. “Wild animals and ecosystems are paying the price.”
When used correctly, pesticides do not cause significant harm, but help save the crop and improve product quality as they protect it from weeds, pests and dangerous human and animal diseases. Nevertheless, due to the environmental properties inherent in all pesticides, their effects are never unambiguous.
Easily soluble in rainwater, they get into the soil, causing degradation of the various microorganisms that accelerate the decay of plant and animal residues, their processing and disposal, thereby restoring the natural fertility of the soil. Pesticides adversely affect human health, both directly and indirectly through the accumulation of residues in agricultural products.
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