Soil Regulators Soft on Pesticide Use
Pesticides cause significant harm to earthworms and thousands of other vital subterranean species. These invertebrates, nematodes, bacteria and fungi filter water, recycle nutrients and help regulate the planet’s temperature. The most comprehensive review ever conducted on how pesticides affect soil health, published in the journal Frontiers in Environmental Science, reveals that beneath fields of monoculture crops, a toxic soup of insecticides, herbicides and fungicides is wreaking havoc on the ecosystem.
The study recommends changes in how regulatory agencies like the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) assess the risks posed by the nearly 850 approved pesticide ingredients. Presently, regulators ignore pesticide harm to earthworms, springtails, beetles and many other subsoil critters. The EPA relies on one insect, the European honeybee, to represent the thousands of species that live or develop underground. The ongoing escalation of pesticide-intensive agriculture and pollution are major driving factors in the precipitous decline of many soil organisms that are critical to maintaining healthy soils. This contamination has been identified as the most significant driver of soil biodiversity loss in the last decade.