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Biodiversity Decline as a Consequence of an Inappropriate Environmental Risk Assessment of Pesticides

Authors:

Abstract

Risk Management Instead of Assessment The development of a new systemic approach for ERA will take considerable time and require substantial resources. We therefore also need to discuss other options to at least halt the negative effects of pesticides on biodiversity of the agricultural landscape. Risk management to mitigate negative pesticide effects might be a helpful alternative until we are able to assess the true environmental risk of pesticide usage. Reducing pesticides in agricultural practice is an obvious option. It was estimated that total pesticide use could be reduced by more than 40% in almost 60% of 946 evaluated farms in a French network without any negative effects on both productivity and profitability (Lechenet et al., 2017). Integrated pest management should focus on using natural enemies of pests and crop rotations and agree on pesticides as a last option instead of current practices, where pesticides are prophylactically implemented in farming practices (e.g., seed-treatments of cereals). We additionally could extend the proportion of semi-natural habitats without pesticide inputs in the agricultural landscape, increase agri-environmental schemes and enlarge the area of organic farming. Many options are on the table and a strengthening of the greening of the common agricultural policy (CAP) is currently discussed for the coming period of European policy (Erjavec and Erjavec, 2015; Solazzo et al., 2016; Alons, 2017). Risk mitigation of pesticides needs to be implemented effectively and at a large scale to bend the curve of biodiversity decline in agricultural landscapes now. If we delay to change agricultural practice and its current pesticide use our efforts to stop the current biodiversity decline and restore it to former levels need to be much larger at a later stage.
OPINION
published: 31 October 2019
doi: 10.3389/fenvs.2019.00177
Frontiers in Environmental Science | www.frontiersin.org 1October 2019 | Volume 7 | Article 177
Edited by:
Annemarie Van Wezel,
University of Amsterdam, Netherlands
Reviewed by:
Jane A. Entwistle,
Northumbria University,
United Kingdom
*Correspondence:
Carsten A. Brühl
bruehl@uni-landau.de
Specialty section:
This article was submitted to
Toxicology, Pollution and the
Environment,
a section of the journal
Frontiers in Environmental Science
Received: 03 April 2019
Accepted: 16 October 2019
Published: 31 October 2019
Citation:
Brühl CA and Zaller JG (2019)
Biodiversity Decline as a
Consequence of an Inappropriate
Environmental Risk Assessment of
Pesticides. Front. Environ. Sci. 7:177.
doi: 10.3389/fenvs.2019.00177
Biodiversity Decline as a
Consequence of an Inappropriate
Environmental Risk Assessment of
Pesticides
Carsten A. Brühl 1
*and Johann G. Zaller 2
1Community Ecology and Ecotoxicology, iES Landau, Institute for Environmental Sciences, University of Koblenz-Landau,
Landau, Germany, 2Department of Integrative Biology and Biodiversity Research, Institute of Zoology, University of Natural
Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU), Vienna, Austria
Keywords: ecotoxicology, plant protection products, agroecology, regulatory, EU
The widespread contamination of ecosystems with plant protection products (pesticides in this
text) around the world is evident (Hoferkamp et al., 2010; Shunthirasingham et al., 2011; Stehle
and Schulz, 2015a; Ferrario et al., 2017; Hvˇ
ezdová et al., 2018; Silva et al., 2019). Pesticide effects
on the physiology, activity and diversity of various aquatic and terrestrial non-target organisms
is addressed by numerous studies, and many new aspects are also described in a recent Frontiers
Research Topic.
We currently observe a deterioration of biodiversity in agricultural landscapes, and the dramatic
losses are increasingly discussed by the public (European Commission, 2018a). Declines of
insect biomass of more than 70% in the last few decades in Germany, the halving of farmland
bird populations in Europe and effects on pollinators are widely known (Donald et al., 2001;
Potts et al., 2010; Hallmann et al., 2017). Out of a set of recorded parameters of agricultural
intensification (such as field size, fertilizer application, landscape heterogeneity) a unique, pan-
European study identified pesticide application as the responsible factor for lower biodiversity
of plants, ground beetles, and birds in wheat fields (Geiger et al., 2010). Recently, a review
recognized chemical pollution including pesticides as the second most important driver for the
worldwide decline in insect populations (Sánchez-Bayo and Wyckhuys, 2019). Other drivers were
habitat loss and conversion to intensive agriculture, fertilizer inputs, introduced species, and
climate change.
There is agreement in the scientific community that pesticides are a central responsible factor
for the observed terrestrial biodiversity declines. However, pesticides are perceived also as the
chemicals with the strictest regulation, requiring an in-depth Environmental Risk Assessment
(ERA) for registration in the European Union (European Parliament, 2009). This procedure
includes the performance of a set of toxicity studies and calculations using predicted exposure
values to calculate a risk. If the risk is deemed acceptable pesticides can be placed on the market
(for an overview see.g. Storck et al., 2017). Interestingly during this step of the authorization
process the “acceptable risk” is leading to pesticides considered “safe” for the environment (EFSA,
2019). Farmers, assuming they are using “safe” pesticides, are currently confronted with the public,
blaming them for the observed declines of biodiversity. It seems that the ERA for pesticide
regulation as currently carried out is inappropriate since it cannot prevent that registered and
commonly used pesticides have detrimental effects on our environment.
In the last decade we have seen an increasing complexity in ERA of pesticides. The European
Food Safety Authority (EFSA), as the responsible authority for pesticide registration in Europe,
published guidance documents describing the required studies for different groups of aquatic and
terrestrial organisms and their implementation in risk calculations (EFSA, 2010, 2013a). For the
Brühl and Zaller Biodiversity Unprotected by Pesticide Regulation
terrestrial environment there are also specific documents for
birds and mammals as well as for bees (EFSA, 2009, 2013b).
Furthermore, EFSA also recently published scientific opinions
on in-soil organisms, non-target arthropods, amphibians, and
reptiles as well as non-target terrestrial plants calling for
improvement of ERA for the respective groups (EFSA, 2014,
2015, 2017, 2018). In some instances, such as for the currently
neglected amphibians and reptiles, standard toxicity studies to
produce reliable endpoints are lacking and the entire ERA is
not even outlined yet. Scientific opinions are documents that
highlight steps in ERA that need to be improved. However, the
ERA is still performed as before until a guidance document
is issued.
The current scheme for ERA of pesticides was also
recently addressed by the group of chief scientific advisors,
recommending among others the setting of unambiguous and
quantifiable protection goals and structural changes of the
registration process in the EU (European Commission, 2018b).
The majority of the members of the European parliament agreed
on a motion for a resolution on the authorization procedure for
pesticides that mentions concern regarding the widespread use
of pesticides and a lack of public knowledge about hazard and
risk of pesticide use (European Parliament, 2018). A few scientific
assessments of the European ERA scheme and its shortcomings
exist (e.g. Newman et al., 2006; Schäfer et al., 2011; Stehle and
Schulz, 2015b; Storck et al., 2017). Main points that are often
raised are the inclusion of new test or surrogate species, the
extension of studies to more realistic scenarios, the validity of
the used uncertainty (assessment) factors, the lack of including
sublethal endpoints in risk assessments and the need to address
ignored groups of organisms (e.g. Jänsch et al., 2006; Desneux
et al., 2007; Stahlschmidt and Brühl, 2012; Brühl et al., 2013). The
consideration of interactions of pesticide effects with additional
stressors such as nutrients or climate change was also pointed out
(Köhler and Triebskorn, 2013; Baier et al., 2016).
But instead of highlighting all the open questions on various
stages of a complex ERA scheme we consider it necessary to step
back and address its entire structure. The observed biodiversity
declines in European agricultural landscapes are mostly discussed
for terrestrial organisms and not for aquatic systems. We will
therefore specifically focus on the terrestrial part of ERA.
APPLICATION SEQUENCES IN PESTICIDE
USE
The existing ERA is performed for one active substance or
pesticide product that is applied once or a few times in a
specific crop. However, the current cropping systems do not
only receive one application of a pesticide. Their seeds might
be already treated with a mixture of multiple systemic pesticides
and several further products are applied on the growing plants
or fruits during the season. In Germany in 2016 on average
there were 6 pesticides applied (treatment index) in wheat,
7 in oilseed rape, 14 in potatoes, 22 in vine orchards, and
32 in apple production orchards (JKI, 2019). In the UK even
more pesticides were used for the same crops: 11 pesticides
for wheat, 13 for oilseed rape, and 21 for potatoes (FERA,
2017). Outside the EU maximum pesticide inputs as in banana
in Costa Rica, where aerial applications are conducted in
conventional plantations every 4 days, result in volumes of
over 75 kg of active molecules/ha/year. It is obvious to every
ecotoxicologist and ecologist that multiple, sequential field
applications of biologically active chemicals are likely to cause
more severe effects on a population of organisms than a single
application event. However, the current risk assessment assumes
that populations only face a single impact from a specific
pesticide, with sufficient time following after application to
allow the population to recover to former levels. In reality the
same population is facing multiple pesticide impacts during the
growing season. This is a worrying underestimation of the actual
risk for biodiversity in the agricultural landscape resulting from
pesticide use. Similar concerns of an underestimation of effects
of contamination with multiple pesticides and other chemicals
are also raised for human health (Leu and Shiva, 2014).
INDIRECT EFFECTS
The current ERA scheme addresses the effects of a pesticide
on each group of organisms separately. There are ERA sections
on plants, on insects and spiders (arthropods) and birds.
Field studies are sometimes performed for arthropods, where
interactions between predatory insects and their prey is recorded.
However, ERA does not include so-called indirect effects or
interactions between trophic levels of different organism groups.
An example can be seen in an herbicide that has no acute toxic
effect on insects as well as birds and therefore passes the current
risk assessment for both groups. However, the application of
the herbicide leads to a reduction of “weeds” (as intended in
the field) and of “non-target plants” (the same plant species
growing outside the field), therefore reducing the amount of
food for pollinators and herbivorous insects. This depletion can
lead to further impacts on birds since herbivorous insect larvae,
such as caterpillars, are smaller and less abundant after herbicide
treatments (Hahn et al., 2014), reducing the insect biomass
available to feed the birds offspring. Trophic interactions are
fundamental features of ecosystems and therefore need to be
considered in ERA.
IN-FIELD EFFECTS ON BIODIVERSITY
The European ERA focusses on environmental effects that can
occur in semi-natural structures outside the agricultural fields.
Currently no ERA for the in-field risk is mandated. However,
the scientific opinion for non-target arthropods, mentions
“biodiversity has to be supported to a certain degree in the
in-field areas (. . . ) in order to provide important ecosystem
services (EFSA, 2015).” However, the respective guideline is
not addressing this issue and negative effects on biodiversity
are therefore deliberately accepted in the cropping area where
pesticides are directly applied at biologically effective rates.
The agricultural cropping area that receives pesticide inputs in
Europe represents 22% of the total land area, reaching more
Frontiers in Environmental Science | www.frontiersin.org 2October 2019 | Volume 7 | Article 177
Brühl and Zaller Biodiversity Unprotected by Pesticide Regulation
than 30% for example in Germany and France (for 2015,
Eurostat, 2019). Therefore, in countries with a high proportion
of cropped area almost a third of the terrestrial land surface
is not evaluated regarding negative effects of pesticides on its
biodiversity. To explain the observed decline in insect biomass
in the agricultural landscape of Germany (Hallmann et al., 2017)
the most parsimonious explanation (Occam’s razor) is the annual
application of insecticides on more than 30% of Germanys land
area, the entire cropping area, since the 1970s. No other factor
such as the suggested light pollution or soil sealing needs to be
invoked to explain the observed reductions (BMU, 2018).
The ERA required for pesticide regulation is in most cases
not addressing the impact of pesticide use in agricultural
fields and does not include food-web related ecosystem effects.
This fundamental misconception leads to an ERA scheme
and a resulting pesticide regulation that is not protective for
biodiversity. If we remain working with the ERA scheme in place,
in our opinion we will continue to observe further declines of
many groups of organisms such as farmland birds and insects in
the agricultural landscape. Neglecting the three described factors
can have far-reaching consequences at the ecosystem level that
are likely larger than an underestimation of risk due to a lower
uncertainty factor or a flaw in the experimental design of a
field study. The misconception can also not be compensated
by additional studies including new surrogate species or groups
of organisms. The banning of certain insecticides or broad-
band herbicides will also hardly improve the situation. We
therefore urgently need to rethink our basis for the regulation
of these biologically active substances and develop a holistic
approach to include indirect effects caused by multiple pesticides
applied in the agricultural productive land area of Europe.
Since the current ERA for the regulation of pesticides is not
addressing the real-world situation we ought to accept that
the current practice of pesticide use in European agriculture
is not sufficiently protective and therefore not safe for the
terrestrial environment.
RISK MANAGEMENT INSTEAD OF
ASSESSMENT
The development of a new systemic approach for ERA will
take considerable time and require substantial resources. We
therefore also need to discuss other options to at least halt the
negative effects of pesticides on biodiversity of the agricultural
landscape. Risk management to mitigate negative pesticide effects
might be a helpful alternative until we are able to assess the
true environmental risk of pesticide usage. Reducing pesticides
in agricultural practice is an obvious option. It was estimated that
total pesticide use could be reduced by more than 40% in almost
60% of 946 evaluated farms in a French network without any
negative effects on both productivity and profitability (Lechenet
et al., 2017). Integrated pest management should focus on
using natural enemies of pests and crop rotations and agree
on pesticides as a last option instead of current practices,
where pesticides are prophylactically implemented in farming
practices (e.g., seed-treatments of cereals). We additionally could
extend the proportion of semi-natural habitats without pesticide
inputs in the agricultural landscape, increase agri-environmental
schemes and enlarge the area of organic farming. Many options
are on the table and a strengthening of the greening of the
common agricultural policy (CAP) is currently discussed for the
coming period of European policy (Erjavec and Erjavec, 2015;
Solazzo et al., 2016; Alons, 2017). Risk mitigation of pesticides
needs to be implemented effectively and at a large scale to bend
the curve of biodiversity decline in agricultural landscapes now. If
we delay to change agricultural practice and its current pesticide
use our efforts to stop the current biodiversity decline and restore
it to former levels need to be much larger at a later stage.
AUTHOR CONTRIBUTIONS
All authors listed have made a substantial, direct and intellectual
contribution to the work, and approved it for publication.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
CB thanks colleagues and the students of the Ecotoxicology
courses at the iES in Landau and at Universidad Nacional
Costa Rica in Heredia for many intense discussions. Special
thanks go to Marjon Belderbos and Clemes Ruepert for their
hospitality and the tranquility of the garden house with the
motmot that inspired this text. We also thank the reviewers and
editor for helpful comments on earlier versions of this opinion.
Open access publication was supported by BOKU (University
of Natural Resources and Life Sciences) Vienna Open Access
Publishing Fund.
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Conflict of Interest: The authors declare that the research was conducted in the
absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a
potential conflict of interest.
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Frontiers in Environmental Science | www.frontiersin.org 4October 2019 | Volume 7 | Article 177
... Insect biodiversity is declining and severely threatened worldwide (Sánchez-Bayo and Wyckhuys 2019; Brühl and Zaller 2019;Cardoso et al. 2020). Some of the main causes for this condition are the loss and simplification of natural habitats, mainly related to intensive land use on farms with high-impact local management (Hipólito et al. 2018), as well as to increase in the use of pesticides and fertilizers (Brühl and Zaller 2019). ...
... Insect biodiversity is declining and severely threatened worldwide (Sánchez-Bayo and Wyckhuys 2019; Brühl and Zaller 2019;Cardoso et al. 2020). Some of the main causes for this condition are the loss and simplification of natural habitats, mainly related to intensive land use on farms with high-impact local management (Hipólito et al. 2018), as well as to increase in the use of pesticides and fertilizers (Brühl and Zaller 2019). Factors on different spatial scales can intensify the erosion of local diversity; changes in the horizontal and vertical structure of the natural landscape (Flores et al. 2018;Fornoff et al. 2021), increased land use intensity (Flores et al. 2018), heterogeneity of the agricultural matrix (Coutinho et al. 2020), and reduced habitat diversity have been identified as a set of factors that lead to the decline in the diversity and abundance of global insects, including invertebrates such as bees and wasps, as well as other organisms (Hendrickx et al. 2007; Sánchez-Bayo and Wyckhuys 2019; Zattara and Aizen 2021).The advancement of these agricultural landscapes has caused almost irreversible changes to the spatial structure of the highly diversified and structured original landscape (Krebs et al. 1999), resulting in a global decline in pollinator diversity and richness (Baldock 2020). ...
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Global initiatives to reforest degraded areas have intensified in recent years, arising from advances in agricultural frontiers that mainly alter natural landscapes and suppress vegetation. However, little is known about the influence of agricultural landscapes on the re-establishment of groups that perform key ecosystem services in restoration areas, such as pollination and pest control. Using trap nest methodology, we aimed to evaluate how aspects of the landscape influence the abundance, richness, diversity, and composition of trap-nesting bees and wasps as well as their natural enemies in restored areas located within highly managed landscapes. Samplings were conducted monthly from August 2018 to August 2019 in nine reforested areas of Seasonal Semideciduous forest older than 15 years. We found evidence of a negative influence of monoculture area (i.e., surrounding soybean/corn agriculture) on the abundance of wasps and their natural enemies, indicating a preference for more heterogeneous landscapes, possibly related to the greater availability of prey and lesser edge effect in this type of landscape. Bee diversity indicates a negative relationship with increasing distance from the edge of reforestation to the edges of the nearest forest fragment. Our results also suggest that some bee and wasp species are more affected by habitat loss than other species in general, which was indicated by a change in community composition. We conclude that the nesting of solitary bees and wasps in reforested areas was influenced by characteristics of the surrounding landscape, which should be considered in restoration projects to maximize the effectiveness of ecological services such as pollination and predation.
... However, their potentials of generating negative externalities were also high mostly because of their intensive and extensive use [15,16]. These externalities include the threat of pesticide exposure to farmer's health [17][18][19], the contamination of pesticide residue to food safety [20][21][22], and the degradation and deterioration of ecosystem and environment [23][24][25][26][27]. The double-edge of pesticide use insists farmers to continuously equip themselves with pesticide related knowledge for being able to wisely select pesticides that have minimum externalities. ...
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Farmers’ socio-economics, beliefs, perceptions, and attitudes affect their behavior toward pesticides. This study was aimed at identifying criteria considered by shallot farmers in selecting and using pesticides. A survey of shallot pesticide-use was carried out in Brebes, Central Java. Data were collected by interviewing 75 respondents that was proportiona-tely and randomly selected from three villages in Brebes. By using factor analysis, four components are extracted and they account for 65.15% of the total explained variation. The rank of importance of selection criteria is “financial and accessibility criteria” (FA-1st), “performance, knowledge and information criteria” (PK-2nd), “safety and environmental criteria” (SE-3rd), and “technical and operational criteria” (TO-4th). Farmers with higher education prefer more PK, FA and TO criteria for pesticide-use. Farmers with land size of 1,001 - 2,000 m2 prefer more PK and FA criteria. Farmers who put attention to pesticide active ingredients and pesticide movement in the plants show a tendency to prefer to PK and TO criteria more than farmers who do not. Farmers who have participated in IPM training tend to consider all of the four criteria when selecting and using pesticides. The findings provide useful information for improving extension programs related to safe and appropriate pesticide use.
... Regulatory bodies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency in the USA (U.S.-EPA) and the European Food Safety Authority in Europe, evaluate pesticide safety and advise governments on risks. Though these organizations solicit input from scientists, industry, and other stakeholders, their assessments are not flawless (Brühl and Zaller 2019). On the other hand, retail sets standards for quality and physical characteristics, e.g., cosmetic appearance of harvested produce (Pimentel et al. 1977), and pesticides are widely used by farmers to meet these standards (Norgaard 1976, Lamine et al. 2010, Lamine 2011, Morrissey et al. 2014. ...
... Almost 65% of the surveyed countries also reported the absence of special provisions to regulate and restrict the use of highly hazardous pesticides (HHPs). 1 Compounding these effects are methodological shortcomings in ecological risk assessment of agrochemicals. The failure of the current regulatory mechanisms to reduce environmental and ecological damages from pesticide use is attributed to methodological inaccuracies in predictions of both exposure and effect (56). Faulty assumptions of one-time impact from a specific pesticide on organisms, and sufficient recovery periods following long intervals between multiple applications, tend to underestimate the actual risk to biodiversity and ecosystems (57). ...
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There is much debate about whether the (mostly synthetic) pesticide active substances (AS) in conventional agriculture have different non-target effects than the natural AS in organic agriculture. We evaluated the official EU pesticide database to compare 256 AS that may only be used on conventional farmland with 134 AS that are permitted on organic farmland. As a benchmark, we used (i) the hazard classifications of the Globally Harmonized System (GHS), and (ii) the dietary and occupational health-based guidance values, which were established in the authorization procedure. Our comparison showed that 55% of the AS used only in conventional agriculture contained health or environmental hazard statements, but only 3% did of the AS authorized for organic agriculture. Warnings about possible harm to the unborn child, suspected carcinogenicity, or acute lethal effects were found in 16% of the AS used in conventional agriculture, but none were found in organic agriculture. Furthermore, the establishment of health-based guidance values for dietary and non- dietary exposures were relevant by the European authorities for 93% of conventional AS, but only for 7% of organic AS. We, therefore, encourage policies and strategies to reduce the use and risk of pesticides, and to strengthen organic farming in order to protect biodiversity and maintain food security. Keywords: agrochemicals; farming; synthetic pesticides; natural pesticides; environmental risk assessment; organic farming; pesticide reduction; farm to fork strategy
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The present study aimed to record seasonal dynamics and diversity of different insect pests in cotton agroecosystems. Two well-known cotton growing districts i.e. district Layyah and district Vehari were selected for this study from the cotton belt of Punjab, Pakistan. Sampling was done bi-weekly tow consecutive years from July to October during 2018 and 2019. Sweep netting, visual counting, hand picking, wet finger method, beat sheets, aspirator and pitfall trapping methods were used for collection. Shannon-Wiener and Simpson indices were used to compute diversity while Menhinick and Margalef indices were used for the estimation of species richness. A total of 94343 individuals representing 43 species, 40 genera, 28 families and 6 orders were recorded. Family Aleyrodidae dominated over other pest families. Bemisia tabaci (Gennadius, 1889) of family Aleyrodidae was the dominant species with 39.68% share among all pest species. Estimated species richness of all arthropod pest species belonging to both districts were about 94%. The densities of pests fluctuated with time. The peaks of sucking pest densities were observed in July and August while densities of chewing pests peaked in late September or early October each year. Population densities of jassids Amrasca biguttula (Ishida), armyworm Spodoptera litura (Fabricius), and pink bollworm Pectinophora gossypiella (Saunders), showed strong negative correlation with temperature, humidity and rainfall while thrips population density showed positive correlation with these parameters. Minor loss due to pests are acceptable everywhere, but it is only possible when their populations remain below their economic threshold levels. Present study will aid to design pest management strategies in cotton growing areas round the globe.
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The science of agroecology has evolved to embrace practices and campaigns toward sustainable agriculture and food systems. The pathway seeks to enhance operational and resource use efficiency, to substitute ecologically-detrimental inputs and practices with eco-friendly options and design sustainable agro-ecosystems, and scale these systems through transformative development of alternative food networks leading to sustainable global food system based on participation, locality, fairness and justice. This chapter limits its scope to the scale of farm and agroecosystem in discussing the sustainable agricultural practices. The sustainable crop management and agro-ecosystem design components are categorized into eight set of practices, referred here to as 8-S elements. These elements include: (1) spatial bioengineering, (2) species diversification, (3) seed management, (4) seasonal synchrony, (5) soil management, (6) stress management, (7) systems integration, and (8) socio-economic objectivity. Drawing on the results of long-term studies, meta-analysis and narrative review, the eco-friendly, productive options generating ecosystems services and profitability are discussed under each category. The spatial bioengineering involves adaptive modification of physical and vegetal landscape tailored to the constraints presented by climatic, geographic and soil conditions. The niches thus created can be further diversified with crop species in spatial and temporal patterns. While seed sovereignty allows guided evolution of cultivars on-farm, various eco-friendly seed enhancement measures increase productivity and resource use efficiency. Research findings evidenced how seasonal synchrony of production practices can enhance crop adaptability to stochastic environment. The soil management covers the agro-ecological merits and tradeoffs of conservation tillage and soil productivity enhancement measures. The study findings proved the efficacy of various eco-friendly crop stress management options. Systems integration and socio-economic objectivity are touched upon with the perspective of further on-farm diversification, and policy support and fairness for the adoption of sustainable eco-friendly practices.
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Dans un contexte d’accroissement de la vulnérabilité des êtres humains et des sociétés humaines face au dérèglement climatique et à l’effondrement de la biodiversité, il devient indispensable de mener une réflexion approfondie sur les liens complexes qu’entretiennent l’environnement et notre santé. Appréhender un sujet aussi multidimensionnel nécessite de s’ouvrir à différentes perspectives. En effet, si nous voulons apprendre à prendre soin et à soigner autrement, en tenant compte de ce que l’on nomme «l’interdépendance du vivant», nous devons prêter attention aux connaissances apportées par les sciences humaines et sociales, les sciences de l’environnement, les sciences de l’ingénierie ou encore les sciences de la santé. Ce livre écrit par quelque 70 autrices et auteurs d’horizons disciplinaires différents et revu indépendamment par plus de 30 expertes et experts est une invitation à aller voir au-delà de son propre champ professionnel. Il s’adresse à toutes les personnes soucieuses de trouver quelques clés de compréhension pour penser la santé dans l’environnement et entamer une nécessaire transformation socioécologique des services de santé.
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Following a request from the European Food Safety Authority, the Panel on Plant Protection Products and their Residues developed an opinion on the science to support the development of a risk assessment scheme of plant protection products for non-target arthropods. The current risk assessment scheme is reviewed, taking into consideration recent workshops and progress in science. Proposals are made for specific protection goals which aim to protect important ecosystem services such as food web support, pest control and biodiversity. In order to address recovery and source-sink population dynamics, conducting a landscape-level risk assessment is suggested. A new risk assessment scheme is suggested which integrates modelling approaches. The main exposure routes for non-target arthropods are identified and proposals are made on how to integrate them in the risk assessment. The appropriateness of the currently used vegetation distribution factor was investigated. It is proposed that new tests be included in order to address exposure via oral uptake of residues and uncertainties related to differences in species sensitivity.
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Pesticide use is a major foundation of the agricultural intensification observed over the last few decades. As a result, soil contamination by pesticide residues has become an issue of increasing concern due to some pesticides' high soil persistence and toxicity to non-target species. In this study, the distribution of 76 pesticide residues was evaluated in 317 agricultural topsoil samples from across the European Union. The soils were collected in 2015 and originated from 11 EU Member States and 6 main cropping systems. Over 80% of the tested soils contained pesticide residues (25% of samples had 1 residue, 58% of samples had mixtures of two or more residues), in a total of 166 different pesticide combinations. Glyphosate and its metabolite AMPA, DDTs (DDT and its metabolites) and the broad-spectrum fungicides boscalid, epoxiconazole and tebuconazole were the compounds most frequently found in soil samples and the compounds found at the highest concentrations. These compounds occasionally exceeded their predicted environmental concentrations in soil but were below the respective toxic endpoints for standard in-soil organisms. Maximum individual pesticide content assessed in a soil sample was 2.05 mg kg⁻¹ while maximum total pesticide content was 2.87 mg kg⁻¹. This study reveals that the presence of mixtures of pesticide residues in soils are the rule rather than the exception, indicating that environmental risk assessment procedures should be adapted accordingly to minimize related risks to soil life and beyond. This information can be used to implement monitoring programs for pesticide residues in soil and to trigger toxicity assessments of mixtures of pesticide residues on a wider range of soil species in order to perform more comprehensive and accurate risk assessments.
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Following a request from EFSA, the Panel on Plant Protection Products and their Residues developed an opinion on the science to support the potential development of a risk assessment scheme of plant protection products for amphibians and reptiles. The coverage of the risk to amphibians and reptiles by current risk assessments for other vertebrate groups was investigated. Available test methods and exposure models were reviewed with regard to their applicability to amphibians and reptiles. Proposals were made for specific protection goals aiming to protect important ecosystem services and taking into consideration the regulatory framework and existing protection goals for other vertebrates. Uncertainties, knowledge gaps and research needs were highlighted.
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Global declines in insects have sparked wide interest among scientists, politicians, and the general public. Loss of insect diversity and abundance is expected to provoke cascading effects on food webs and to jeopardize ecosystem services. Our understanding of the extent and underlying causes of this decline is based on the abundance of single species or taxo-nomic groups only, rather than changes in insect biomass which is more relevant for ecological functioning. Here, we used a standardized protocol to measure total insect biomass using Malaise traps, deployed over 27 years in 63 nature protection areas in Germany (96 unique location-year combinations) to infer on the status and trend of local entomofauna. Our analysis estimates a seasonal decline of 76%, and midsummer decline of 82% in flying insect biomass over the 27 years of study. We show that this decline is apparent regardless of habitat type, while changes in weather, land use, and habitat characteristics cannot explain this overall decline. This yet unrecognized loss of insect biomass must be taken into account in evaluating declines in abundance of species depending on insects as a food source, and ecosystem functioning in the European landscape.
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The increasing multidimensionality of agriculture, linking the domain with environmental, trade and food safety concerns, has mobilized new policy actors bringing new preferences and ideas into the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) debate. This article investigates the extent to which this has contributed to Environmental Policy Integration (EPI) in the CAP. It puts forward the claim that an incomplete transformation in European agricultural policy from exceptionalism to post-exceptionalism explains the limited extent of EPI in the CAP. This claim is substantiated by a longitudinal comparative analysis of the CAP reforms over the last two decades, applying a multidimensional concept of EPI as process (how the formal and informal procedures and institutions in place allow for the integration of environmental concerns in policy deliberation), output (the translation of such concerns in changes in policies) and outcome (the performance of the new policies in terms of environmental benefits).
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Achieving sustainable crop production while feeding an increasing world population is one of the most ambitious challenges of this century1. Meeting this challenge will necessarily imply a drastic reduction of adverse environmental effects arising from agricultural activities2. The reduction of pesticide use is one of the critical drivers to preserve the environment and human health. Pesticide use could be reduced through the adoption of new production strategies3, 4, 5; however, whether substantial reductions of pesticide use are possible without impacting crop productivity and profitability is debatable6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17. Here, we demonstrated that low pesticide use rarely decreases productivity and profitability in arable farms. We analysed the potential conflicts between pesticide use and productivity or profitability with data from 946 non-organic arable commercial farms showing contrasting levels of pesticide use and covering a wide range of production situations in France. We failed to detect any conflict between low pesticide use and both high productivity and high profitability in 77% of the farms. We estimated that total pesticide use could be reduced by 42% without any negative effects on both productivity and profitability in 59% of farms from our national network. This corresponded to an average reduction of 37, 47 and 60% of herbicide, fungicide and insecticide use, respectively. The potential for reducing pesticide use appeared higher in farms with currently high pesticide use than in farms with low pesticide use. Our results demonstrate that pesticide reduction is already accessible to farmers in most production situations. This would imply profound changes in market organization and trade balance.
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Following a request from EFSA, the Panel on Plant Protection Products and their Residues developed an opinion on the science behind the risk assessment of plant protection products for in-soil organisms. The current risk assessment scheme is reviewed, taking into account new regulatory frameworks and scientific developments. Proposals are made for specific protection goals for in-soil organisms being key drivers for relevant ecosystem services in agricultural landscapes such as nutrient cycling, soil structure, pest control and biodiversity. Considering the time-scales and biological processes related to the dispersal of the majority of in-soil organisms compared to terrestrial non-target arthropods living above soil, the Panel proposes that in-soil environmental risk assessments are made at in- and off-field scale considering field boundary levels. A new testing strategy which takes into account the relevant exposure routes for in-soil organisms and the potential direct and indirect effects is proposed. In order to address species recovery and long-term impacts of PPPs, the use of population models is also proposed.
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Background Glyphosate-based herbicides are the most widely used pesticides in agriculture, horticulture, municipalities and private gardens that can potentially contaminate nearby water bodies inhabited by amphibians and algae. Moreover, the development and diversity of these aquatic organisms could also be affected by human-induced climate change that might lead to more periods with extreme temperatures. However, to what extent non-target effects of these herbicides on amphibians or algae are altered by varying temperature is not well known. Methods We studied effects of five concentrations of the glyphosate-based herbicide formulation Roundup PowerFlex (0, 1.5, 3, 4 mg acid equivalent glyphosate L⁻¹ as a one time addition and a pulse treatment of totally 4 mg a.e. glyphosate L⁻¹) on larval development of Common toads (Bufo bufo, L.; Amphibia: Anura) and associated algae communities under two temperature regimes (15 vs. 20 °C). Results Herbicide contamination reduced tail growth (−8%), induced the occurrence of tail deformations (i.e. lacerated or crooked tails) and reduced algae diversity (−6%). Higher water temperature increased tadpole growth (tail and body length (tl/bl) +66%, length-to-width ratio +4%) and decreased algae diversity (−21%). No clear relation between herbicide concentrations and tadpole growth or algae density or diversity was observed. Interactive effects of herbicides and temperature affected growth parameters, tail deformation and tadpole mortality indicating that the herbicide effects are temperature-dependent. Remarkably, herbicide-temperature interactions resulted in deformed tails in 34% of all herbicide treated tadpoles at 15 °C whereas no tail deformations were observed for the herbicide-free control at 15 °C or any tadpole at 20 °C; herbicide-induced mortality was higher at 15 °C but lower at 20 °C. Discussion These herbicide- and temperature-induced changes may have decided effects on ecological interactions in freshwater ecosystems. Although no clear dose-response effect was seen, the presence of glyphosate was decisive for an effect, suggesting that the lowest observed effect concentration (LOEC) in our study was 1.5 mg a.e. glyphosate L⁻¹ water. Overall, our findings also question the relevance of pesticide risk assessments conducted at standard temperatures.
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Biodiversity of insects is threatened worldwide. Here, we present a comprehensive review of 73 historical reports of insect declines from across the globe, and systematically assess the underlying drivers. Our work reveals dramatic rates of decline that may lead to the extinction of 40% of the world's insect species over the next few decades. In terrestrial ecosystems, Lepidoptera, Hymenoptera and dung beetles (Coleoptera) appear to be the taxa most affected, whereas four major aquatic taxa (Odonata, Plecoptera, Trichoptera and Ephemeroptera) have already lost a considerable proportion of species. Affected insect groups not only include specialists that occupy particular ecological niches, but also many common and generalist species. Concurrently, the abundance of a small number of species is increasing; these are all adaptable, generalist species that are occupying the vacant niches left by the ones declining. Among aquatic insects, habitat and dietary generalists, and pollutant-tolerant species are replacing the large biodiversity losses experienced in waters within agricultural and urban settings. The main drivers of species declines appear to be in order of importance: i) habitat loss and conversion to intensive agriculture and urbanisation; ii) pollution, mainly that by synthetic pesticides and fertilisers; iii) biological factors, including pathogens and introduced species; and iv) climate change. The latter factor is particularly important in tropical regions, but only affects a minority of species in colder climes and mountain settings of temperate zones. A rethinking of current agricultural practices, in particular a serious reduction in pesticide usage and its substitution with more sustainable, ecologically-based practices, is urgently needed to slow or reverse current trends, allow the recovery of declining insect populations and safeguard the vital ecosystem services they provide. In addition, effective remediation technologies should be applied to clean polluted waters in both agricultural and urban environments.
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Although large amounts of pesticides are used annually and a majority enters the soil to form short- or long-term residues, extensive soil surveys for currently used pesticides (CUPs) are scarce. To determine the status of CUPs' occurrence in arable land in Central Europe, 51 CUPs and 9 transformation products (TPs) were analysed in 75 arable soils in the Czech Republic (CR) several months after the last pesticide application. Moreover, two banned triazines (simazine and atrazine) and their TPs were analysed because of their frequent detection in CR waters. Multi-residue pesticide analysis on LC-MS/MS after soil QuEChERS extraction was used. The soils contained multiple pesticide residues frequently (e.g. 51% soils with ≥5 pesticides). The levels were also noticeable (e.g. 36% soils with ≥3 pesticides exceeding the threshold of 0.01mg/kg). After triazine herbicides (89% soils), conazole fungicides showed the second most frequent occurrence (73% soils) and also high levels (53% soils with total conazoles above 0.01mg/kg). Frequent occurrence was found also for chloroacetanilide TPs (25% of soils), fenpropidin (20%) and diflufenican (17%). With the exception of triazines' negative correlation to soil pH, no clear relationships were found between pesticide occurrence and soil properties. Association of simazine TPs with terbuthylazine and its target crops proved the frequent residues of this banned compound originate from terbuthylazine impurities. In contrast, frequent atrazine-2-hydroxy residue is probably a legacy of high atrazine usage in the past. The occurrence and levels of compounds were closely associated with their solubility, hydrophobicity and half-life. The results showed links to CR water-monitoring findings. This study represents the first extensive survey of multiple pesticide residues in Central European arable soils, including an insight into their relationships to site and pesticide properties.