Catastrophic threat to world's ecosystems as farm pesticides 'driving insect extinction'

Insects could become extinct in 100 years scientists have warned. /COURTESY

Insects could become extinct in 100 years scientists have warned. /COURTESY

"So we still need the bees and the other insects to come along and pollinate them".

"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", the report said.

40 percent of insect species like bees and ants are now undergoing dramatic rates of decline, according to scientific journal journal, Biological Conservation.

The total mass of insects - which now outweighs humanity by 17 times over - is falling by 2.5 percent a year, which suggests they could vanish altogether within the next century.

The report, complied by scientists at the Universities of Sydney and Queensland and the China Academy of Agricultural Sciences, are calling for radical action to avert what they believe is a "looming crisis". In 10 years you will have a quarter less, in 50 years only half left and in 100 years you will have none'.

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Of the insects that remain, 41pc are in decline. Matt Shardlow, the Chief Executive of Buglife, told BBC Radio 4's World at One about the consequences of an insect extinction. Researchers said "a considerable proportion" of aquatic fly species had also been lost.

The review highlighted four key drivers of extinction: habitat loss caused by agriculture, urbanisation and deforestation; pollution; biological factors such as invasive species and diseases; and climate change.

He said: 'It is very rapid.

Conservation and biodiversity groups have called on the more careful use of chemical pesticides and fertilisers in agriculture to address the problem.

It added dwindling insect populations were further evidence of a sixth mass extinction under way among animal and plant species worldwide.

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