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

Bug Apocalypse

The number of invertebrates and insects such as moths, butterflies and bees has dropped worldwide by 45 percent in the last 35 years, raising alarm about the global ecosystem.

Fish Revival

Following the removal two years ago of an obsolete dam, shad have returned to New Jersey’s Millstone River for the first time since 1845.

Bat Cave Rescue

A fungus known as white-nose syndrome is decimating U.S. bat species, but scientists hope that genetic strategies and cave treatments will turn the situation around.

Monstrous Morass

The floating garbage patch is twice the size of Texas, but the fact that it’s only 8 percent micro-plastic makes a clean-up possible.

Happy Hoppers

Natural evolution seems to be saving frog species in Panama that are growing in numbers after being nearly wiped out by a deadly fungal disease more than a decade ago.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags