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Insects are in peril; we must fund research into pesticide alternatives

When I was young, I hated bugs. They were gross, annoying, and overall awful. That’s why when I was offered a position in an entomology lab in college I was more than a little skeptical. But I needed a job more than I needed my animosity toward the insect world, so I took it. That job completely changed my perspective and my passions. I now think that the insect world is the most fascinating thing on this earth, and unfortunately, it is in great peril.

There are many reasons for insect decline, and even more for why it matters so much, but there is one thing that we can do right now about it: stop using pesticides that are so harmful to the environment and the insects we rely on so much. Neonicotinoids are a nasty class of pesticides that have gotten a lot of attention for their effect on pollinators. We rely on pollinators for much of our food, where specifically bees pollinate 70 of our top 100 crops. From my experience, I know that there are many other alternatives to these widely used insecticides. That’s why I was very frustrated when I read the Jan. 3 Community Voices commentary about neonicotinoids and I learned how little funding there is to research these alternatives, largely leaving farmers in the dark about their options.

Without farmers on our side, it is going to be incredibly hard to do what we need to do: get these pesticides banned! This is why we need to push our state leaders to care enough to fund this research and then move to get these nasty insecticides out of Minnesota — for the sake of the bugs!

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