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New Report Highlights Pesticides’ Overlooked Climate Connection

Dana Drugmand

As chemicals designed to kill insects and weeds, fungi and rodents, pesticides are among the most toxic and damaging substances on the planet. Theirharmful impacts on human and ecosystem healthare generally well understood. What receives far less attention, however, is the climate impact of these agrochemicals. Not only do pesticides directly contribute to the climate crisis, but a changing climate is likely to intensify pressure from agricultural pests and decrease plant resiliency, resulting in greater pesticide usage and therefore further greenhouse gas emissions.  This “vicious cycle” of pesticide use fueling climate change, and vice versa, is examined in areportpublished Tuesday by the advocacy group Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA).“Pesticide companies are complicit in the climate crisis, and further the agricultural sector’s dependency on fossil fuels.”  Nearly all synthetic pesticides are derived from fossil fuels, and like other petrochemical products such as plastics and nitrogen fertilizer, they emit greenhouse gasses throughout their manufacturing and use.