Monday, October 21, 2013

Neonicotinoids–they’re bugging me

DSC_0072For many years, scientist have been trying to determine what’s killing many of our pollinators and beneficial insects.  A new report by the Xerces Society has consolidated published articles and summarized the possible effects of neonicotinoid insecticides.  When originally introduced, these insecticides were projected to be low impact – both for human and non-target species.  Newer research, though, is pointing to more negative impacts from these chemicals.  Here’s a link to download your copy of the report.  And this isn’t just an agricultural issue – these products are used in residential areas, often at much higher application rates.  Next steps?  Here’s what the Xerces Society is recommending (from a Xerces Society e-mail, no citation available):

  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency should re-assess the ecological safety of currently approved neonicotinoids and immediately suspend registration of imidacloprid, clothianidin, thiamethoxam, and dinotefuran for all applications where there is a risk to nontarget organisms.
  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency should significantly speed up the registration review process for neonicotinoids. The risk from exposure to neonicotinoid insecticides needs to be scientifically evaluated against the risk posed to beneficial species by alternative control measures.
  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency should expand the number of nontarget terrestrial insect species used in the risk assessment process.
  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency should adopt risk assessment protocols for exposure to nontarget insects that account for cumulative and synergistic effects, effects of long-term exposure to low concentrations, and exposure to pesticides through pollen and nectar.
  • The USDA Risk Management Agency's Federal Crop Insurance Corporation should approve reductions in crop insurance premiums for producers who avoid prophylactic use of neonicotinoids where the pest pressure does not warrant use.
  • The prophylactic use of neonicotinoids on crops should be halted. Neonicotinoids should only be used as part of an Integrated Pest Management plan.
  • The use of neonicotinoids for cosmetic reasons (such as against aphids in parks and gardens) rather than economic reasons should be banned on city- and county-owned lands.

For more information, check out the Xerces Society pesticides webpage.

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