|Neonics Briefing DSCN1748 (Photo credit: Xerces Society)|
By Dr. Mercola
Research has shown that many pesticides are neurotoxic and can cause disruptions to your neurological system and your brain. The reason why neurotoxins still enjoy widespread use on our food supply is really more about the bottom line for farming operations than it is about the science of human health.Research has clearly and consistently linked pesticide exposure to Parkinson’s disease. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) alsoconsiders 30 percent of insecticides to be carcinogenic.All of these toxic chemicals are permitted on farms growing conventional and genetically engineered crops, and a large number of them can end up on your plate when you purchase conventionally-grown fruits and vegetables and/or processed foods.But pesticides also have a dramatic impact on the health of our ecosystem. Neonicotinoids, such as Imidacloprid and Clothianidin, kill insects by attacking their nervous systems. These are known to get into pollen and nectar, and can damage beneficial insects such as bees.These toxic chemicals have been implicated as one of the primary culprits in the mass die-offs of bees, and have subsequently been banned in some countries. The United States, however, is not among these countries...But the effects of neonicotinoids do not end there. According to recent research by the American Bird Conservancy (ABC), the use of neonicotinoids in seed treatments is also responsible for the death of birds, terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates and other wildlife.
Ecosystem Threatened by ‘Gross Underestimate’ of Toxicity of Neonicotinoids
Nicotine-related compounds called nicotinoids were initially introduced as a new form of pesticide in the 1990s, as widespread pest resistance rendered many older pesticides useless. Many seeds are now “pre-treated” with neonicotinoids, which are water-soluble and break down slowly in the environment.Today, they are the most widely-used pesticides in the world. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find a pesticide that does not contain at least one neonicotinoid insecticide. In California alone, there are nearly 300 registered neonicotinoid products available.The American Bird Conservancy (ABC), one of the leading bird conservation organizations in the US, is now calling for a ban on the use of neonicotinoids as seed treatments, and wants all pending applications for neonicotinoid products to be suspended pending an independent review of the products’ effects on birds, terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates, and other wildlife.As reported by the American Bird Conservancy1:“It is clear that these chemicals have the potential to affect entire food chains. The environmental persistence of the neonicotinoids, their propensity for runoff and for groundwater infiltration, and their cumulative and largely irreversible mode of action in invertebrates raise significant environmental concerns...”ABC commissioned the world renowned environmental toxicologist Dr. Pierre Mineau to conduct the research, which resulted in a 100-page report2 titled The Impact of the Nation’s Most Widely Used Insecticides on Birds. Mineau’s report reviews 200 studies on neonicotinoids, including industry research obtained through the US Freedom of Information Act.The report concludes that neonicotinoids “are lethal to birds and to the aquatic systems on which they depend.” Even more disturbing, contamination levels in both surface and ground water around the world are already beyond the threshold found to kill many aquatic invertebrates. According to this shocking toxicology assessment:
- A single kernel of corn treated with this type of pesticide can kill a songbird
- A single grain of wheat or canola treated with the neonicotinoids Imidacloprid can be fatal to a bird
- As little as 1/10th of a neonicotinoid-coated corn seed per day during egg-laying season can affect a bird’s reproductive capability
EPA Accused of Failing to Adequately Assess Environmental Risks
Disturbingly, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has not adequately assessed the toxicity of neonicotinoids. Part of the problem, according to the featured report, is that the EPA is “using scientifically unsound, outdated methodology that has more to do with a game of chance than with a rigorous scientific process.” This has led the agency to grossly underestimate the toxicity of these chemicals. Furthermore 33:
“The report also charges that there is no readily available biomarker for neonicotinoids as there is for cholinesterase inhibitors such as the organophosphorous pesticides. ‘It is astonishing that EPA would allow a pesticide to be used in hundreds of products without ever requiring the registrant to develop the tools needed to diagnose poisoned wildlife. It would be relatively simple to create a binding assay for the neural receptor which is affected by this class of insecticides,’ said Dr. Mineau.”
Dr. Mineau urges the EPA to require pesticide registrants to also provide the diagnostic tools necessary to diagnose cases of wildlife poisonings. So far, neonicotinoids have garnered the most attention and criticism for their role in bee die-offs—a worldwide phenomenon that took off once these newer pesticides became widely used. As stated by ABC4:
“The serious risk to bees should not be understated, as one-third of the US diet depends on these insect pollinators. The ABC assessment makes clear, however, that the potential environmental impacts of neonicotinoids go well beyond bees.”
http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/06/18/neonicotinoid-pesticide.aspx Link to the rest of the story on Mercola.com.