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From The Socialist newspaper, 25 October 2017

Profit-driven pesticide use now threatens life

Flying insects

Flying insects   (Click to enlarge)

Mira Glavardanov

Since 1989, three-quarters of the flying insect population might have disappeared.

The decline of bees and butterflies has been known for some time. But this new research from Germany is startling.

Insects make up about two-thirds of all life on Earth. Given their important position in our ecosystems, one researcher warns their decline in German nature reserves means we may be "on course for ecological Armageddon."

Insects are important for many reasons. They pollinate flowers and crops. They provide food for birds and other species - it is not surprising that the number of birds is in decline too. Some are predators on pests. And they also play the role of "Earth's cleaners," as decomposers of dead matter.

Without insects, ecosystems could collapse and advanced life on Earth become unsustainable.

What is killing these most versatile species? Climate change could be a factor. But probably the biggest culprit - itself a driver of climate change - is industrial agriculture and pesticides.

Industrial farmland has no place for wildlife. Pesticides kill the bugs that make the soil live - they kill pests, but also predators of pests. To make up for the loss of soil fertility, more chemicals are applied. Industrial agriculture is one massive treadmill of damaging chemical use.

There are more ecological ways of farming. But capitalism doesn't care about insects, life or sustainability. It only cares about profit.

The chemical giants have been fighting tooth and nail against agricultural chemical bans. Syngenta has been fighting the EU's partial 'neonicotinoid' ban. The news is just in that Monsanto is suing the US state of Arkansas for limiting use of its 'dicamba' herbicides.

But it's not just farming. Monsanto's herbicide Roundup, against which there is mounting evidence of harm to human and wildlife health, still sits happily on the shelf in every garden centre for home use. Councils also use it to spray our streets, parks, and schoolyards.

Under socialism, the big corporations - including chemical firms - would be nationalised, and what they produce democratically planned. A socialist model of agriculture, that cares for the real needs of people and the wellbeing of our planet, would have no place for mass application of destructive poisons that only benefit profits.

  • Socialism 2017 (11 and 12 November, central London)
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    In The Socialist 25 October 2017:


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