Chemical Toxicity, Pollinators, and The Windshield Phenomenon

When was the last time you took a road trip? Maybe not a road trip, but an hour-long drive in the country? Did you take note of how many bugs were smashed on the windshield? If you've been a licensed driver for longer than a decade, you might have noticed you're not cleaning the windshield quite as often as just a few years ago. Entomologists call this the windshield phenomenon. The lack of vehicular bug carnage has great implications. An unsung, all-volunteer group of amateur scientists are calling it an insect Armageddon

The Entomological Society Krefeld located in Germany has been quietly collecting flying insects for several decades. Using special devices called malaise tents, they gather insects and measure their accumulated biomass. During the last 25 years, the annual biomass has declined an astonishing 76%. You are mistaken if you think this phenomenon is just limited to parts of the EU. Biologist Brad Lister has been studying and observing rainforest insects in Puerto Rico since the '70's. His findings showed a 60-fold decrease of biomass for all insects in a span of fewer than forty years. 

There is no single reason or culprit for such an alarming decrease in the numbers of insects. Agenda-driven science can blame climate change, but let us not forget the overuse of agrochemicals such as glyphosate. I have written before about the hazards of toxins in honey. Since 1974, US farmers and landscapers have applied 1.6 billion kilograms of this widely used herbicide. Unfortunately, our application represents only 19% of the 6.1 million kilograms used throughout the world. The World Health Organization has concluded that glyphosate was "probably carcinogenic" which is in direct conflict with our EPA's conclusion that it is unlikely to pose a cancer risk to humans. In the last decade, there has been a tremendous amount of research indicating that glyphosate has many more toxic effects.

Scientists out of Canada have demonstrated that even minute amounts of glyphosate alters mitochondrial function in cells. But, how does a herbicide like Round-Up which contains glyphosate effect flying insects? Because decades of use have saturated agricultural fields. It is systemic in our crops. Fact is, many of these crops have been genetically modified to be glyphosate tolerant, allowing farmers to continue spraying this herbicide even as plants grow and mature. Pollinating insects such as honeybees visit these fields and bring corrupted nectar and pollen back to their hives. Glyphosate alters the gut microbiota of the bee, weakening it by increasing the susceptibility to pathogenic infection and may be a reason of colony decline.

Honeybees, butterflies, and beetles, visit gardens and crops which are treated not only with herbicides but also with pesticides and fungicides. The USDA has been forced to admit to the overabundance of toxins in American crops, but qualify this by saying they are all within acceptable and safe ranges. Of course, the USDA and EPA failed to mention that they agreed to raise the tolerance levels for glyphosate at the behest of Monsanto, or that Syngenta had asked the EPA to allow for higher residues of thiamethoxam for numerous crops because the company wanted to expand its use as a leaf spray. By the end of 2018 and after endless research corroborating its hazards, neonicotinoid pesticides are finally being banned in the EU, but not in the USA. 

Tiny six-legged labor pollinates nearly half our crops in America $57 billion worth of food. It doesn’t matter if it is an insect or human, the combination of climate change and toxic chemicals are having a synergistic and compound deadly effect on all creatures. The lack of bugs on your windshield is just another dire warning of possible catastrophic consequences for our ecosystem.

(The above photo is a snapshot of Intertek’s purity analysis of Killer Bees Honey. Among 60 tests, no toxins, including glyphosate were detected. The full report can be seen here.)


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