Bobolinks and other migratory songbirds are getting clobbered by pesticide use outside of the United States, beyond the protections offered (such as they are) by federal regulations, as Bridget Stutchbury notes in an op-ed piece for the Times.
Since the 1980s, pesticide use has increased fivefold in Latin America as countries have expanded their production of nontraditional crops to fuel the demand for fresh produce during winter in North America and Europe. Rice farmers in the region use monocrotophos, methamidophos and carbofuran, all agricultural chemicals that are rated Class I toxins by the World Health Organization, are highly toxic to birds, and are either restricted or banned in the United States.
Stutchbury cites research by Rosalind Renfrew of the Vermont Center for Ecostudies.
What’s a consumer to do? Look for shade-grown, organic coffee, and organic bananas. Conventionally-grown bananas are typically produced “with one of the highest pesticide levels of any tropical crop.”
I found organic bananas at my local Giant Food next to to the conventionally-cropped fruit, shrouded in plastic bags to discourage price tag switching.