Scientists warn pesticide impacts may be worse than we thought

In California, regulators have rolled out a plan to eliminate “high-risk” pesticides from agricultural and urban use. In Mexico, officials have announced a ban on the widely used weedkiller glyphosate. And in Canada, regulators have implemented some new pesticide restrictions and are reviewing the potential for others.

The moves, which are also playing out in various forms around the United States, have drawn opposition from chemical and farm industry forces. But supporters say they don’t go far enough to adequately protect human and environmental health.

Three University of British Columbia researchers recently published a paper that summarizes what they say is a growing body of evidence showing that pesticides are having harmful ecological impacts beyond what is already well understood, and that these impacts are not being recognized by current testing and regulations. The authors of the paper looked at dozens of studies to draw their conclusions.

The New Lede had a conversation with lead author Risa Sargent about the team’s findings. Sargent is an associate professor of applied biology within the Faculty of Land and Food Systems at the University of British Columbia. She and colleagues reviewed studies from around the world, finding alarming results.