Paris — Nearly half of all insect species worldwide are in rapid decline and a third could disappear altogether, according to a study warning of dire consequences for crop pollination and natural food chains. "Unless we change our way of producing food, insects as a whole will go down the path of extinction in a few decades," concluded the peer-reviewed study, which is set for publication in April. The recent decline in insects that fly, crawl, burrow and skitter across still water is part of a gathering "mass extinction", only the sixth in the last half-billion years. "We are witnessing the largest extinction event on Earth since the late Permian and Cretaceous periods," the authors noted. The Permian end-game 252 million years ago killed off more than 90% of the planet's life forms, while the finale of the Cretaceous 66 million years ago saw the demise of land dinosaurs. "We estimate the current proportion of insect species in decline — 41% — to be twice as high as that of vertebr...

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