Are Neonicotinoids A False Hope For Agriculture?
Neonicotinoids (pronounced: nee-o-nick-o-tin-oyds) are defined, according to the EPA, as a class of insecticides with a common mode of action that affects the central nervous system of insects, causing paralysis and death. All of the neonicotinoids were registered after 1984 and were not subject to reregistration. Some uncertainties have been identified since their initial registration regarding the potential environmental fate and effects of neonicotinoid pesticides, particularly as they relate to pollinators. Data suggest that neonicotinic residues can accumulate in pollen and nectar of treated plants and may represent a potential exposure to pollinators. Adverse effects data as well as beekill incidents have also been reported, highlighting the potential direct and/or indirect effects of neonicotinic pesticides. Therefore, among other refinements to ecological risk assessment during registration review, the EPA will consider potential effects of the neonicotinoids to honeybees and other pollinating insects.
The Uncertainties of Neonicotinoids
The registration review docket for imidacloprid opened in December 2008, and the docket for nithiazine opened in March 2009. To better ensure a “level playing field” for the neonicotinoid class as a whole, and to best take advantage of new research as it becomes available, the Agency has moved the docket openings for the remaining neonicotinoids on the registration review schedule (acetamiprid, clothianidin, dinotefuran, thiacloprid and thiamethoxam) to FY 2012.
One Chemical Kills All
According to the new research, “Imidacloprid (pronounced: ah-me-dah-clo-prid) differed from conventional spray pesticides in that it could be used as seed dressings or soil treatments. When used as a seed dressing the insecticide will migrate from the stem to the leaf tips, and eventually into the flowers and pollen. Any insect that feeds on the crop dies; but bees, bumblebees, hoverflies and butterflies that collect contaminated pollen or nectar from the crop are also poisoned.”
Further Proof Of The Pending Environmental Catastrophe
New research conducted by Rosemary Mason, Henk Tennekes, Francisco Sánchez-Bayo and Palle Uhd Jepsen contributes to further substantiate the impact of neonicotinoids on pollinators. Dr. Henk Tennekes discovered toxicological proof of the actions of neonicotiniods and upon realizing the dire consequences of environmental pollution with these systemic pesticides was morally compelled to write the best-selling book, Disaster In The Making, to warn the general public about an impending environmental catastrophe. Dr. Francisco Sánchez-Bayo provided further ecotoxicological information which can be found in this new research.
Listen To The Interview:
In this special series called “The Neonicotinoid View” June Stoyer and special co-host, Tom Theobald will be joined by Dr. Sánchez-Bayo, Centre for Ecotoxicology, University of Technology Sydney, Australia, to discuss his research on neonicotinoids. Please use the podcast player below to listen to the interview or you may subscribe to the show via TheOrganicView on iTunes.
About Dr Sánchez-Bayo
Dr Sánchez-Bayo is an ecotoxicologist and terrestrial ecologist. His main interest is risk assessment of pesticide contaminants on birds and aquatic communities, and he is currently focused on developing sampling devices for monitoring polar herbicides in environmental waters.
He developed a novel and harmless technique to assess the exposure of live birds to pesticides, for which he received an IUPAC Rhone-Poulenc Environmental Award in 1998.
He is particularly interested in modeling the time response of organisms to toxic chemicals, as a basis for improving the prediction of risk of toxicants on populations and communities of organisms.
Dr Sánchez-Bayo is currently Research Associate in the Centre for Ecotoxicology, based at the facilities of the Office of Environment & Heritage NSW in Lidcombe. He was Visiting Fellow at the University of New South Wales (1992), and worked on several post-doctoral positions at the University of Sydney (1994/2001) before taking a position as Assistant Professor at Chiba University (Japan) from 2002 to 2006.
He has taught ecotoxicology and environmental sciences to graduate and post-graduate students for several years in Japan and Australia. He has published 53 research articles in topics as diverse as bird ecology, woody weeds encroachment, ecotoxicology of pesticides and phyto-remediation of agrochemicals, and is author and editor of three books.