The “insect apocalypse” is a phrase scientists, beekeepers and government regulators know well. However, it seems many people are not aware of this ongoing and disturbing event. For most, remembered personal experiences from decades ago will include cleaning bugs of all sorts off the windshield of a vehicle, evading blood-sucking parasites, watching masses of dragonflies graze on their prey, and the sting of the unfortunate bumblebee stepped on while playing barefoot in a yard full of clover or dandelions.
These experiences have become rather rare, while the quietness of many landscapes has become too commonly eerie, reminiscent of Rachel Carson’s prophetic book from 1962, Silent Spring.
The evidence to support the claim that we are in the midst of an insect apocalypse has grown to the point that monopolistic chemical corporations Bayer-Monsanto, Syngenta-ChemChina and Dow-DuPont can’t find a sober audience to listen to their message of “all is well, keep buying our chemicals”. In the U.S. some of this evidence includes the population of monarch butterflies falling by 90 percent in the last 20 years and the rusty-patched bumblebee dropping by 87 percent over the same period.. A global analysis of 452 species in 2014 estimated that insect abundance had declined 45 percent over 40 years. Currently, 41 percent of insect species are declining and global numbers are dropping by 2.5 percent annually. So what is causing this insect apocalypse? Many things. Habitat loss, weather changes, and the big one - pesticide use.
The United States’ agricultural landscape is 48 times more toxic to insects than it was 25 years ago. A class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids accounts for a staggering 92 percent of this effect.
Don’t look to government to cure this situation though, as is the case with so many other issues, big corporations and regulators have an overly cozy relationship. At the last two meetings of the Minnesota Environmental Quality Board where the pollinator report was given, state commissioners took NO action to address neonicotinoid effects, though scientists and citizen board members called strongly and repeatedly for such. If meaningful difference is to be made now it will be at the personal level, as a consumer. For those who haven’t done so already, making real, pesticide-free food priority one is of paramount importance, and local farmers and gardeners using regenerative growing methods are the best source of this high quality nutrition. When the last of the consumers awake and refuse toxic food or chemicals made by corporations, the profit incentive for this chemical madness disappears, taking with it insect and human health problems. The “unwashed masses” will have bypassed the government-industry complex.
Most farmers using chemical intensive methods today were born into agro-chemical dependency and to break free they and their land must undergo the same difficult life changes that any addict would. To do any less is to commit themselves to the sinking slave ship that is chemical intensive agri-business. Their freedom will be found in regenerative farming.