Killing Fields

Neonicotinoid Pesticides Threaten Birds and Insects, Too




Controversial neonicotinoid pesticides linked to catastrophic honeybee declines in North America and Europe may also kill other creatures, posing ecological threats even graver than feared, according to a new report by the American Bird Conservancy. It claims that dangers to birds and stream-dwelling and soil-dwelling insects accidentally exposed to the chemicals have been underestimated by regulators and downplayed by industry.

“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 environmental concerns that go well beyond bees,” according to the report co-authors, pesticide policy expert Cynthia Palmer and pesticide toxicologist Pierre Mineau, Ph.D., who both work for the nonprofit. They note that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency typically sets guidelines for bird exposures using laboratory tests on just two species, which ignores widely varying sensitivities among hundreds of other species.

Scott Black, executive director of the Xerces Society, an invertebrate conservation group, says that integrated pest management (IPM), which combines precisely targeted chemical use with other, non-chemical means of pest control, can deliver industrial-scale yields in an environmentally sustainable way. To the detriment of wildlife, “[Our nation] has moved away from IPM, from scouting a farm, putting in habitat for beneficial insects and spraying only if there’s damage,” he warns. “With neonicotinoids, they don’t do that anymore,” instead returning to indiscriminate blanket spraying.


Primary source: Tinyurl.com/ABCBirdReport

Edit ModuleShow Tags

More from Natural Awakenings

Renewable Payoff

For a few hours last May, Germany’s renewable mix of energy generated so much power that customers were actually paid for using electricity.

Sealife Sanctuary

Greenpeace is working with the European Union and Germany to set aside an Antarctic sanctuary of almost three-quarters of a million square miles to protect whales, penguins and other wildlife.

Plumbing Progress

An innovative Australian project recycles discarded ocean plastic into 3-D printer filament, which is then used to make replacement plumbing parts in needy areas of the world.

Urban Trees

Tree cover works to reduce depression, improve productivity and lessen disease, yet four million city trees a year are being lost due to their low priority in municipal budgets.

Tree Tally

By digitalizing photographs and other museum records, scientists are closing in on the number of tree species left to be discovered in the Amazon rainforest.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags