Pesticides threaten birds and bees alike, study says

Jun 24, 2014
Honey bees that produce raw wildflower honey work in their hive at an outdoor Farmer's Market August 15, 2013, in Washington

Neurotoxic pesticides blamed for the world's bee collapse are also harming butterflies, worms, fish and birds, said a scientific review that called Tuesday for tighter regulation to curb their use.

Analysing two decades of reports on the topic, an international panel of 29 scientists found there was "clear evidence of harm" from use of two pesticide types, and fipronil.

And the evidence was "sufficient to trigger regulatory action".

"We are witnessing a threat to the productivity of our natural and farmed environment," said Jean-Marc Bonmatin of France's National Centre for Scientific Research, co-author of the report entitled the Worldwide Integrated Assessment.

Far from protecting food production, these nerve-targeting known as neonics were "imperilling the pollinators, habitat engineers and natural pest controllers at the heart of a functioning ecosystem."

The four-year assessment was carried out by The Task Force on Systemic Pesticides, which advises the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the world's watchdog on species loss.

Neonics are widely used insecticides whose effects can be instant and lethal, or chronic. Exposure can impair smell and memory in some species, curb procreation, reduce foraging, cause flight difficulties and increase disease susceptibility.

Used for insect pest management in farming, but also in pet flea control, they have been fingered in the recent decline in bees—crucial pollinators of human food crops—in Europe, the Americas and Asia.

The latest study says these pesticides, absorbed by plants, are also harming other , fish and birds as they leach into soil and water.

The most affected species were terrestrial invertebrates such as earthworms, which are crucial soil-enrichers, said a press statement.

Bees and butterflies were next, followed by aquatic invertebrates like freshwater snails and water fleas, then birds, and finally fish, amphibians and certain microbes.

"The combination of their widescale use and inherent properties, has resulted in widespread contamination of agricultural soils, freshwater resources, wetlands, non-target vegetation, estuarine and coastal marine systems," the authors wrote.

"This means that many organisms inhabiting these habitats are being repeatedly and chronically exposed to effective concentrations of these insecticides."

Call for 'substantial reduction'

Neonics can persist in soil for more than 1,000 days, and in woody plants for over a year, and the compounds into which they break down can be more toxic than the original, active ingredients.

The review, which its authors said will be published in the journal Environment Science and Pollution Research, looked at evidence of neonic damage gathered in 800 reports over the last two decades.

Last year, scientists said neonicotinoids and another pesticide group, organophosphates, can scramble the brain circuits of honeybees, affecting memory and navigation skills they need to find food, and placing entire hives under threat.

The EU has since placed a temporary ban on some of these chemicals.

Earlier this month, researchers said venom from one of the world's most poisonous creatures, the Australian funnel web spider, could help save the world's honeybees by providing a biopesticide that kills pests but spares the precious .

The new study said neonics can be 5,000 to 10,000 times more toxic to bees than DDT, a pesticide that has been banned for agricultural use.

The report said there was not enough data to determine whether there was an impact on mammals and reptiles, "but in the case of the latter, the researchers concluded that it was probable".

The authors suggested that regulatory agencies consider "to further tighten regulations on neonicotinoids and fipronil, and consider formulating plans for a substantial reduction of the global scale of use."

Together, the two classes are the most widely used insecticides with a of about 40 percent, said the authors, and global sales of more than $2.63 billion (1.9 billion euros) in 2011.

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User comments : 11

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ljosephlogston007
5 / 5 (3) Jun 24, 2014
We have to this stop this poisoning of all living things on are planet mother Earth
Jimee
not rated yet Jun 25, 2014
Double down on that. It's our children's only hope.
zbarlici
5 / 5 (4) Jun 25, 2014
It`s apalling that BIG MONEY has all kinds of lobyists pushing up politicians arses to do BIG MONEY`s will! Yet when it comes to the proffessional scientific community, they have to do the equivalent of a mount everst climb before they get any notice. These kinds of findingsneed to be fast-tracked and even bypass all the POLITICS IN PLAY b.s. when it comes to issues/chemicals that have such a negative impact on our safety. Shame!!

The scientific community has been warning about this for years. NOTHING DONE!
supermanbatmanalexthegreat
5 / 5 (2) Jun 25, 2014
Yes and now Monsanto and Dow want to use Agent Orange since glysophate's effectiveness is lessening.
Protoplasmix
5 / 5 (1) Jun 27, 2014
Speaking of birds, bees and pesticides… Guess what can happen to humans when they're exposed:

Researchers link autism and rain (Nov 11, 2008)
UC Davis study finds link between pesticide use, autism (Jun 23, 2014)

…just the tip of the tip of the iceberg. This, and far worse effects (like dying a nasty death) have been known since before the 1960s (see "Silent Spring" by Rachel Carson). The truth is, millions of years of evolution have provided inexpensive and effective natural means of regulating pest populations, but pesticides are petroleum based, so …

Don't believe it? See http://www.madeho...ide.html
Quoting from there:
Active ingredients [in pesticides] were once distilled from natural substances; now they are largely synthesized in a laboratory. Almost all are hydrocarbons derived from petroleum.

Modernmystic
3 / 5 (2) Jun 27, 2014
If you want to see children die slow horrible deaths while their internal organs literally try to digest themselves due to starvation....then, by all means, stop using pesticides....

rhsthjnty
5 / 5 (2) Jun 27, 2014
@Modernmystic

And you accuse Ryg of having a black and white view of he world.

I think that we can agree that we're using pesticides in an inefficient manner and because of this we're putting undue strain on the environment because of overuse.
I think we can agree that there are farming techniques, that can be applied to an industrial scale, that would limit the use of pesticides to a minimum.

I hope we can agree that although neonics are an amazing family of pesticides that we have plenty of studies showing that they are having an unintentional and devastating effect on pollinators.

And I think that we have enough historic evidence to assume that industry will try to protect its assets and will use its lobbying power to delay any law or regulation that would hit its bottom line.

So... Who's saying that we have to stop using pesticides? I believe the commentators above were speaking about neonics. There are farming techniques and we have sustainable alternatives that we could use.
Protoplasmix
3 / 5 (2) Jun 27, 2014
If you want to see children die slow horrible deaths while their internal organs literally try to digest themselves due to starvation

MM, I've seen that throughout my entire life and it's not because there's a shortage of food, and not because of pesticide use. Wake up. Please.
Oldfart
5 / 5 (1) Jul 01, 2014
This "review" was funded by a charity that also supports "organic" foods, regardless of the fact that all foods are organic and so-called "organic" foods are no different from regular foods. And, of course, they got what their money paid for. Do you think for one minute if this "review" had produced evidence that pesticides were not as harmful as people think, they would have published it? Nah. But, that is not the only problem with this study which, as I understand it, is not even published yet.
rhsthjnty
5 / 5 (1) Jul 14, 2014
@Oldfart

This "review" was funded by a charity that also supports "organic" foods, regardless of the fact that all foods are organic and so-called "organic" foods are no different from regular foods. And, of course, they got what their money paid for. Do you think for one minute if this "review" had produced evidence that pesticides were not as harmful as people think, they would have published it? Nah. But, that is not the only problem with this study which, as I understand it, is not even published yet.


Really?

"Analysing two decades of reports on the topic, an international panel of 29 scientists found there was "clear evidence of harm" from use of two pesticide types, neonicotinoids and fipronil."
Captain Stumpy
not rated yet Jul 14, 2014
If you want to see children die slow horrible deaths while their internal organs literally try to digest themselves due to starvation....then, by all means, stop using pesticides....
@MM
to piggy back on Protoplasmix... it (starvation) is also happening today in modern countries that are considered rich... like America.
So.. if we KNOW American's support the use of pesticides and that we use them regularly, and we KNOW that there is organics here as well, and we KNOW that we provide food for other countries, and we KNOW there is an abundance, and yet we ALSO KNOW that children right here in the US starve to death regularly (from homeless kids to abused ones)... what is the point of your argument?
it WILL exist, whether we use pesticides or not, as it exists already...

I can give you a few reservations to visit and you will see poverty that you thought only existed in 3rd world countries if you like. put things into perspective...?