Neonicotinoid pesticides have been widely blamed for the deaths of pollinators on a global scale. A new study published in the journal BioOne has specified that neonicotinoid-treated seeds do not protect against pests. Instead the poison still moves through the plant’s vascular system and poison is expressed through pollen and nectar.
The current study examined the impact of western bean cutworm infestation and damage in dry beans, and the use of seeds treated with the neonicotinoid thiamethoxam, as well as soil treated with aldicarb, another systemic insecticide. Researchers demonstrated that neither thiamethoxam nor aldicarb reduced cutworm damage.
Plots treated with these insecticides had a higher percentage of defects due to feeding by pests when compared to untreated plots, which researchers believed is attributable to factors such as fewer natural enemies.
The EPA has released a prior report in 2014, questioning the benefit of neonicotinoid use as soybean seeds treated with neonicotinoid insecticides provide little or no overall benefits in controlling insects or improving yield or quality in soybean production.
Municipalities and environmental groups have highlighted the health and environmental problems associated with the pesticide. U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly has previously ordered the Fish and Wildlife Service to halt hazardous pesticide use including the use of neocintoids in four Midwestern States.
“By no later than APRIL 15, 2015, Defendants shall file a Notice indicating the extent to which neonicotinoid pesticides are currently used on the five challenged refuges and where those pesticides are used. Assuming that these pesticides are currently used—or Defendants plan for them to be used—this claim is remanded to the agency to devise a plan to phase out their use as soon as practicable, but no later than January 1, 2016.”http://www.peer.org/assets/docs/nwr/3_17_15_GE_refuge_court_ruling.pdf
The federal complaint was filed by the Center for Food Safety (CFS), Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), Sierra Club and Beyond Pesticides and requested that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service halt the use of pesticides until a rigorous environmental impact study has been completed.
“The court found that neonicotinoid pesticides so upset the natural balance a refuge is supposed to safeguard that a thorough site-specific environmental assessment is required before these potent agents can be used,” said PEER Senior Counsel Paula Dinerstein, noting that neonics are now widely used in U.S. agriculture and even in backyard gardens. “This was not a complete victory, as the court found that the Service’s mismanagement of refuges did not always sink to the level of illegality – a very low bar indeed.”
“The decision makes clear that FWS must analyze the specific impacts genetically engineered crops will have on each unique refuge environment before approving them,” said Paige Tomaselli, senior attorney for Center for Food Safety. “FWS can no longer get away with after-the-fact environmental risk analysis on our fragile wildlife refuges.”
Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility
Center for Food Safety