Researchers find neonicotinoids present a danger to pollinators

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A small team of environmentalists with Friends of the Earth, Toxicology Research International and Pesticide Research Institute has carried out a study of insecticide toxicity loading of chemical pesticides that are used on agricultural lands in the U.S. They have concluded that neonicotinoids present a major danger to pollinating insects and have posted their results on the open-access site PLOS ONE.

In the study (funded by Friends of the Earth), the group looked at the impact of the increased use of neonicotinoids on farming products in the U.S. They note that use of such insecticides has increased dramatically in the past 20 years.

Neonicotinoids are a class of insecticides that target the nervous systems of insects—they are both less expensive to make and less toxic to humans than other products, making them an appealing option for agriculture applications. The researchers note that they are far more toxic to insects, including those not targeted by than prior industrial insecticides. They also last a lot longer in the soil and are water-soluble, which means they travel from the soil to the water table when it rains.

The researchers carried out an assessment of toxicity loading of by obtaining and analyzing data from a variety of sources, such as the National Agricultural Statistics Service. They report that they found that over the past several decades has changed dramatically—where once, pyrethroids were the main products used to control crop eating insects, now neonicotinoids dominate. They note that there are three main neonicotinoids currently in use: imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiamethoxam.

Two are made by Bayer (which owns agriculture giant Monsanto) and the other by Syngenta. They also note that soybeans and corn are the main crops on which neonicotinoids are used. They also found that the insecticides are used in three ways—to coat seeds, as a spray on citrus trees and as a soil drench of annuals. The researchers also found that multiple studies have been conducted surrounding the use of neonicotinoids, and many have found that the insecticides harm insects, particularly pollinators and the animals that eat them. They point out that the has been found in plant tissue, pollen and nectar—and even honeydew.

In looking at the ways neonicotinoids are being used in the U.S. and how extensively, the researchers have concluded that they represent a major danger to pollinating insects, particularly bees.


Explore further

Neonicotinoids may have an unexplored harmful exposure route to beneficial insects

More information: Michael DiBartolomeis et al. An assessment of acute insecticide toxicity loading (AITL) of chemical pesticides used on agricultural land in the United States, PLOS ONE (2019). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0220029
Journal information: PLoS ONE

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Citation: Researchers find neonicotinoids present a danger to pollinators (2019, August 8) retrieved 23 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-08-neonicotinoids-danger-pollinators.html
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Aug 08, 2019
No news here. Insecticides kill insects. We need to kill insects to protect crops. There are no insecticides that will kill the pests without also killing beneficial insects. This is reality.
BTW, corn is wind-pollenated, and so treated corn does not affect bees.
Neonics are FAR safer for humans than the alternatives. What would you have farmers do? The earlier types of pesticides killed beneficial insects too. Have you all forgotten this? Nobody wants toxic pesticides; few people want GMO crops.
Get real. Organic is not going to feed the world.

Aug 11, 2019
Neonics are insidious they don't go away they keep on killing, they are used in products like Mr. Mosquito where they can wipe out a whole neighborhood of pollinators by treating just a few yards. They are even treating "pollinator friendly flowers" at the nursery so homeowners were simply luring butterflies to their death by trying to help them. They need to be banned are at least strictly controlled. Proper labeling would help too. We have lost 7 queens at our local organic nature preserve. Even though our 27 acres is strictly organics bees forge over many miles where they are wiped out by lawn chemicals. Very sad.

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