Swarms of locusts tens of kilometers wide have threatened to devastate crops in East Africa since late 2019, putting some 32 million people at risk of going hungry.  The desert locust infestation, described by the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in 2020 as a “scourge of biblical proportions,” is the worst the region has seen in decades, according to humanitarian groups. In Ethiopia, the triple threat of locusts, floods and COVID-19 threatened to tip the region into a humanitarian crisis.  To combat the emergency, governments have resorted to spraying large tracts of land with some 2 million liters of insecticides over almost 2 million hectares (5 million acres), since the beginning of the outbreak in December 2019, prompting concerns over the potential health and environmental impacts. A new Mongabay analysis of FAO pesticide purchase data can reveal that the concerns may be well-founded, as 95.8% of the pesticides delivered to East African nations over this period are scientifically proven to cause serious harm to humans and non-target organisms such as birds, fish and bees. Though none of the six pesticides used in East Africa are classed as “highly hazardous” by the World Health Organization, chlorpyrifos and fenitrothion are considered “moderately hazardous” and malathion “slightly hazardous.”  The Pesticide Action Network (PAN), a campaigning group, lists all three compounds as “highly hazardous.” They are considered acutely toxic, a cholinesterase inhibitor, a carcinogen, a groundwater pollutant or reproductive or developmental toxicant. According to a report by EcoTrac, an environmental consultancy, three are…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer

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