Are Crop Protection Products to Blame For Insect Deaths?

Several long-term studies have come to the conclusion that the number of insects in Germany has declined significantly over the past 20 years. Researchers don’t know why: contrary to what has been implied in numerous media, the insect researchers have not commented on possible reasons for this because they haven’t conducted any cause studies.

However, three factors that negatively impact the life and reproduction of insects have been known for a long time:

  • Loss of habitat: The diversity of landscape types such as open country, fallow land, wetlands and heaths has receded markedly. This is attributable in part to loss of land due to construction, overfertilization of pastureland and the increase in corn cultivation for biogas. In 2016, corn was planted on more than 2.5 million hectares of land – three times more than in the 1980s.

  • The increasingly mild and wet winters: Rainy weather makes hibernating animals as well as their eggs, larvae and cocoons susceptible to fungal and bacterial infestation. If warmer phases are followed by a period of frost, this usually ends in disaster for animals that have already emerged from hibernation. Source

  • Light pollution: Around 1 billion insects die on Germany’s streetlights in a single summer night.

  • The decline of pasture farming: In the past, cows spent most of their time in the fields. Cowpats provided living conditions for a variety of flies and beetles. Today, most cows on modern dairy farms spend all year in the cowshed.

But perhaps crop protection products also have an impact on the decline in insect numbers? Ruling out this reason has been a key aspect of the comprehensive and complex approval procedure for many years, as its purpose is to guarantee the safety of crop protection products for people, animals and the environment. That’s why crop protection products are extensively tested for their toxicity to non-target species, as well as for their impact on biodiversity and the ecosystem. Source

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