A publication of Appalachian Voices

A publication of Appalachian Voices

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National Attention on Pesticides

By Amber Ellis

A recent study from the University of California claims that pregnant women living within a mile of farms using popular agricultural pesticides were 60 percent more likely to have a child with developmental delays or autism. And new research indicates that pesticides are also a growing threat to pollinators and, by extension, our food supply.

Bees pollinate roughly 70 percent of human food crops. This spring, a Harvard University study found evidence that pesticides are responsible for their rapid decline. In June, President Obama signed a memorandum calling for research into the declining populations of bees and other pollinators and the possible connection to the use of pesticides. This Pollinator Health Task Force will include more than 14 federal agency representatives.

Concerns about pesticides are also floating around the monarch butterfly, whose population has plummeted during the past decade. Milkweed is the only plant that can support monarch caterpillars, but U.S. milkweed has declined by 21 percent since 1995 due to pesticide use on industrial farms. A recent study suggests that the decrease in milkweed is a significant driver of the concurrent monarch decline.

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