Neonicotinoid Pesticides And Human Health

This feature is a continuation of an article by Dr Rosemary Mason and Palle Uhd Jepsen. To go to the beginning of the feature, click HERE.

Studies on Human Poisoning with Neonicotinoid Pesticides: Clinical & Experimental

There are at least five clinical papers reporting serious cases of human intoxication with imidacloprid, three of which were fatal.

These reports are predominantly from India. Clinical features of central nervous system excitation were present in all of them, and massive rhabdomyolysis (muscle breakdown) in some [65, 66].

Rhabdomyolysis is a feature of severe poisoning in humans with many of the neuro-excitatory drugs, including amphetamine-like synthetic amines (such as methylenedioxymethamphetamine, otherwise known as MDMA or ‘Ecstasy’ and 3,4 methylenedioxyethamphetamine, otherwise known as MDEA or ‘Eve’.

Rhabdomyolysis usually leads to renal failure. These clinical features of overdoses support the above research papers.

The neonicotinoids affect the human central nervous system. Following our clinical conclusions, we found a paper from Washington State University by Li et al. [67].

They conducted experimental work on the effects of clothianidin and imidacloprid on human neuronal-type α4β2 Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptors.

The authors said: “The motivation for the studies comes from the implication of involvement of nicotinic receptors in the clinical manifestation of neonicotinoid poisoning, and the lack of previous studies on neonicotinoid actions on human nicotinic receptors.”

They found that both neonicotinoids had effects on human receptors, but in particular imidacloprid. The authors suggested that imidacloprid-containing insecticides may have stronger side effects on humans.

Human Clinical Studies prove a connection between nAChRs and the Immune System

We have also found a paper showing connections between the nicotinic acetylcholine receptors and the immune system in humans, via the vagus nerve [68].

In the process of trying to treat severe inflammatory responses in sepsis and haemorrhage (which are a major cause of death in patients in Critical Care), a specific anatomical and physiological connection was proved between the nicotinic acetylcholine anti-inflammatory receptors in the central nervous system and the innate immune system, which protects humans against infection and tissue injury.

What is happening to humans in the UK?  Are there subtle effects on vulnerable foetal tissues?

The CRD, HSE and Defra have ignored the advice in the EU Directive (2009/128/EC) on the Sustainable Use of Pesticides about conducting research: “Research programmes aimed at determining the impacts of pesticide use on human health and the environment, including studies on high-risk groups, should be promoted.”

In view of the potentially devastating effects on human health, we wrote to several doctors in University Departments of Medicine in the UK and to the Editor of the British Medical Journal. As yet, we have had no responses. It has been left to charities to gather the data.

In March 2009, the charity Brain Tumour UK reported that, each year, 40,000 brain tumour patients were missing from the official statistics [69]. In the May/June 2010 issue of Oncology News, Dr Colin Watts, neurosurgeon from Cambridge, wrote a Report ‘Brain Cancer: An Unrecognised Clinical Problem’ [70]. He said that the Office of National Statistics figures for the UK showed that the number of children dying from brain tumour in 2007 was 33% higher than in 2001: in contrast, child deaths from leukaemia were 39% lower than in 2001. 

In fact, brain tumours have now replaced leukaemia as the commonest cause of childhood death.

In July 2010 Gwynne Lyons and Professor Andrew Watterson published the CHEM Trust Report [71]. ‘A review of the role pesticides play in some cancers: children, farmers and pesticide users at risk?’

In it, pesticide exposure of pregnant women is linked to childhood cancer. In the last 35 years: Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma has more than doubled; Testicular cancer has doubled; Breast cancer in women has increased by two thirds and in men has quadrupled; Prostate cancer has tripled.

However, it was apparent that they had no access to accurate pesticide information. The neonicotinoid insecticides were, once again, ‘beneath the radar’. They were absent from the list of pesticides identified by the authors in the Report.

Document compiled by using evidence provided by global campaigners against the neonicotinoid pesticides.
Final document dated: 26th November 2011

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