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Invisible Denizens: Of Insects and Men

Intensive farming and its toxic pesticides is one of the main drivers of insect decline and extinction. It is a hell for beneficial insects: Pollinators, insect natural enemies, and nutrient recyclers.

EVAGGELOS VALLIANATOS: ‘Entomologists are confirming the science and wisdom of Aristotle. They have been saying insects hold ecosystems together. By ecosystems they mean large parts of the natural world: mountains, lakes, rivers, creeks, swamps, seas, deserts, and land. Insects work hard to survive and, in that process, they keep the natural world healthy… But if their numbers are declining, watch out…A recent study reviewed 73 reports that focused on that bigger problem: the dramatic and staggering worldwide decline of insects, especially in the twenty-first century… This study speaks of the “alarming… demise” of insects: something like 41 percent being in decline and about a third going extinct.

This decline affects all insects everywhere. It is the largest extinction on Earth since the Permian and Cretaceous periods, 299 million years ago and 145 million years ago respectively. This catastrophic decline and extinction of insects are bad omens for civilization. Less bugs and a continuing extinction of bugs disrupt pollination, the raising of food, the recycling of nutrients, and the fertility of grasslands. Furthermore, they are damaging and crippling natural pest control, whereby insects eat other insects, usually those insect pests that cause damage to crops grown for human food…

The 2019 review rightly identifies “intensive farming” and its deleterious pesticides as one of the main “drivers” of insect decline and extinction. But what is intensive farming? It’s the violent metamorphosis of peasant farming to a factory armed with chemicals and giant mechanical implements. It entails the growing of genetically engineered crops requiring, usually, the heavy and repeated application of synthetic fertilizers and weed killers, the removal of hedgerows and trees and, otherwise, the landscaping of large flat fields to accommodate irrigation, drainage, and large machines.

However, this kind of farming produces a great deal of the same food in great expanses of land, which attracts hordes of insects. Thus intensive farming is a heaven, though laced with poisons, for billions of flying and crawling insects and a hell for beneficial insects: pollinators, insect natural enemies, and nutrient recyclers… Some synthetic pesticides are nerve poisons. They are primarily responsible for driving honeybees to dramatic declines and, eventually, extinction’. SOURCE…

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