A look at Neonicotinoid systemic pesticides : Are They Good Or Bad?

10 May
These new seed pesticide treatments that are used to coat GMO seed corn and to help control pests might seem like a miracle of science and better then the way farmers use to control pests (spraying on the pesticides) but the truth is thats its far from a prefect system that is in true harmony with nature. These neonicotinoids as they are called, are highly toxic to pollinators including honey bees. They are so highly concentrated that even one part per billion can have sub-lethal effects on bees. Clothianidin or Poncho as it is called by its brand name is one of these neonicotinoids systemic pesticides. Clothianidin is (as are all the neonicotinoid based pesticides) water soluble and since the seed corn is coated with this stuff it is is easly taken up into the plants Vascular system when the corn plant starts growing. Now every part of the plant will now be expressing this very toxic pesticides 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for the entire growing season. Even the corn pollen will be expressing this pesticide. Corn pollen can effect bees in two different ways. One way is that sometimes bees will forage on corn pollen and take some it back to the hive & the second way is when bees fly near or through a corn field then the little hairs on their body which are designed to attract the pollen thus causing this corn pollen laced with deadly pesticides to stick to their body in which they will eventually lick off.These pesticides kill insects by causing their nervous system to fail which can lead to lots of different symptoms that eventually will cause honey bees to die! There are already numerous studies that already linked these pesticides to bee deaths!https://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/05/03-0
These new pesticides also have been recently linked to certain species of birds dying off because these new pesticides are killing off some of the beneficial insects these birds eat and so they are starving to death! These pesticides can even poison the birds! Here is a [PDF] of some of the effects of theses neonicotinoid pesticides on birds:http://www.abcbirds.org/abcprograms/policy/toxins/Neonic_FINAL.pdf
That fact that Clothianidin is water soluble makes it even more toxic to the environment because since the seed is placed in the ground it can easily leach into the ground water supply thus contaminating ground the water supply that humans and animals drink from as this article states:http://www.farmlandbirds.net/de/content/pesticide-leaching-leads-groundwater-contaminationClothianidin also has a half life of 20 years and so it has the potential to be taken up by other crops that are grown in that field the following years after.

The pesticide industry knows the dangers of these pesticides but are suppressing the data. Even EFSA ( EUROPEAN FOOD AND SAFETY AUTHORITY) admits there are huge data gapes in the studies that have been carried out on these pesticides. The EPA granted Bayer a Conditional registration back 2003 to start selling Clothianidin in the US and granted them full registration, I think back in 2008. EFSA has just recently approved a two year ban on all these neonicotinoid pesticides so they can be more carefully studied to fully determine their effects on the environment and pollinators.

I want to make it clear that I’m not trying to bash any conventional farmer who uses these products because I know that no farmer wants to be called a bee killer. The only people who should be to blame for misleading the farmers is the pesticide industry & the EPA. The pesticide industry tells farmers that these pesticides will give them a 5 to 10% yield gain in their crops (which is highly controversial) but when you look at the bigger picture even if a farmer did sacrifice some yield wouldn’t that be better than losing all our honey bees and all the fruits & vegetables that are pollinated by honeybees. The crops that are pollenated by honeybees are estimated to be a 15 billion dollar a year industry, could you imagine what kind of an effect that would have the US economy & our food supply?

As an organic farmer we have learned about natural methods to help control pests. Like being more Bio diversified in our operation, practicing proper crop rotation, planting smaller fields of crops like corn , oats, etc. We do this all while still preserving the environment and the natural ecosystem in and around our farm!

By planting large fields of crops (monocultures) farmers give pests all the food they want and so their numbers can grow exponentially! Monoculture systems don’t work well with nature and especially for controlling pests problems.The big question to ask is: Do the benefits of these pesticides out weigh the risks? The answer is no the benefits don’t out weigh the risks!

One Response to “A look at Neonicotinoid systemic pesticides : Are They Good Or Bad?”


  1. kill the honey bee, and… | Writ, Largely - June 9, 2013

    […] GMO seed corn coated with a neonicotinoid pesticide. Image source: The Organic Dairyman’s Life […]

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