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article imageStudy confirms global risks of herbicide overuse

By Tim Sandle     Aug 22, 2013 in Environment
A new study provides evidence that herbicides alter ecosystems around the world and that as the use of herbicides rises, the risks to the planet's ecosystems similarly increase.
The scientific study draws a link between herbicides and changing ecological systems, especially the consequences of biochemical pesticide effects on a species population or on the composition of biological communities.
Herbicides, also commonly known as weedkillers, are pesticides used to kill unwanted plants. Herbicides have widely variable toxicity and because of the large number of herbicides in use, concern regarding health effects is significant. Some scientists argue that the development of genetically modified crops is leading to an overuse of herbicides.
The research outlines mathematical and experimental approaches that allow recognition of the links between the effects of pesticides in individuals and ecological changes in biological communities and ecosystems in regions where intensive farming is practiced.
The models used in the research also show a connection between herbicides and global warming. Based on this apparent link, the researchers forecast changes to "natural" selection, the spread of infections, and the sexual development and fertility of wild animals. This in turn could have a knock-on effect on populations, ecosystems and food chains.
The research has been carried out by Professor Heinz Khler and Professor Rita Triebskorn from the University of Tbingen's Institute of Evolution and Ecology. The results of their inquiry have been published in the journal Science. Their paper is called "Wildlife Ecotoxicology of Pesticides: Can We Track Effects to the Population Level and Beyond?"
More about Herbicide, Ecology, Ecosystem, Planet, Animals
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