Birds and pesticides

 

A chara, – A 41 per cent decline in the population of the barn swallow in France over the last 10 years is associated with the abandonment by the EU of “set-aside” rules under the Common Agriculture Policy in 2008-2009. Overall, European bird populations appear to have declined since then by 31 per cent. While set-aside lands, nominally fallow, were maintained through rough mowing, they had the merit of normally not being sprayed with pesticides.

France has extended organic farming practices to include 8 per cent of farmland, while in Ireland less than 2 per cent is farmed organically. We might accordingly suspect that insect and bird populations here are more intensely, potentially catastrophically, threatened. – Is mise,

PAUL ARNOLD,

Dublin 8.