Just WHAT will it take to get neonicotinoids banned?
How much independent evidence is needed?
is it that regulatory bodies and governments are not taking action
against these pesticides, despite a mass of significant independent
evidence? Even when a government body such as the EPA has admitted that
evidence to support the registration of a pesticide is deficient, they
go ahead and grant marketing authorization regardless - as with the
Clothianidin is still out there, poisoning our landscape today!
It took 30 years to ban DDT. We haven't got 30 years in this case.
remain in the soil at toxic levels for invertebrates, even after usage
has ceased! And with every passing year, the levels build up, because
they do not degrade. Worse still, they are mobile in soil and ground
water, which means they can trespass into your garden, national parks,
or organic farms - whether you like it or not.
Actually, I'm convinced we have enough evidence that neonicotinoids are toxic for bees, other invertebrates and the environment to warrant a ban - in the EU, this would correctly be in line with the Precautionary Principle.
The poster above, to my mind, sums up the situation perfectly. Whilst
toxic pesticides are clearly in view, government scientists and
officials scratch their heads and ponder the possibility that an alien
space ship, the phase of the moon, or even God is to blame for collapses
in honey bees.
No, it's not more evidence we need. It's brave, knowledgable and discriminating politicians, with a determination to do what is right, and who are immune to dinner invitations and other methods of influence from the agrochemical industry - that's what we need.
But since there are few of those about, the public has to make things so uncomfortable for politicians, that even a slap up dinner won't compensate for that discomfort. It means more of us need to speak up. Every voice is important - that includes yours.
Please lobby your politicians for a ban on neonicotinoids. If you live in the UK, you can contact your MP via this link (opens a new window).
If you live in the USA, you can find your representative when you click here (opens a new window).
You will certainly be fobbed off - I have been many times, but you just have to keep going, because eventually, there will be a tipping point, and a ban will have to happen. The aim is that through public pressure, we can make that happen sooner - that is, MUCH sooner than in 30 years time (as with DDT), and that is why constant lobbying by individuals is needed!
If you need any further convincing about the urgency of the situation, please read this important article, sent by toxicologist, Dr Henk Tennekes. Why not use some of the findings in the article to send to your MP or government official. Tell them we need an urgent ban on neonicotinoids.
Parts per billion of neonicotinoids in pollen are indeed infinitesimal, but they do cause adverse effects on honeybees. Luc Belzunces, a bee researcher at INRA (the French Agricultural Research Institute) in Avignon published “Discrepancy between acute and chronic toxicity induced by imidacloprid and its metabolites in Apis mellifera” (Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 20(11):2482-6) in 2001. He found an acute lethal dose of imidacloprid of only 40 nanogram per bee, much less than most other insecticides. However, his big discovery was that the lethal dose from chronic exposure to imidacloprid was 4,000 times less,
that the capacity to measure very small traces of imidacloprid in pollen
now shows that the concentration is in the range of microgrammes per kg
(parts per billion) of pollen and that this constitutes a risk for
Luc Belzunces' conclusion was subsequently
substantiated by Dr Jeff Pettis of the US Agricultural Research Service
and his colleagues (published in 2012 in Naturwissenschaften DOI
10.1007/s00114-011-0881-1). Since one thing common to bee colonies that
go on to collapse seems to be a greater variety and higher load of
parasites and pathogens than other colonies, they wondered in particular
whether neonicotinoids might be weakening the insects’ immune systems,
and thus allowing infections to spread through a hive.
To find out, they gave 20 hives protein food (a substitute for pollen, which is fed to developing larvae) that had been spiked with imidacloprid. In ten cases the dose was five parts per billion (ppb); in the other ten it was 20 ppb. Previous experiments have shown that neither dose perceptibly harms bees. A further ten hives were given un-spiked food as a control. Then, when the young bees emerged a few weeks later, Dr Pettis collected them and fed them with spores of a fungal parasite called Nosema.
Twelve days later, he killed them and estimated the extent of their infestation. Both of the groups that had been exposed to imidacloprid harboured an average of 700,000 parasite spores in each bee. Bees from the control colonies, by contrast, harboured fewer than 200,000 spores in their bodies. The insecticide, in other words, was exposing bees to infestation, and thus to a much greater chance of dying prematurely. Similar results had been published by Cédric Alaux and his colleagues from France in 2010 (Environ. Microbiol. 12(3): 774–782). Vidau et al. (2011) showed that exposure to sublethal doses of fipronil and thiacloprid highly increased the mortality of honeybees previously infected by Nosema ceranae. PLoS ONE 6 (6):e21550.
Finally, there has been a very important shift in our
understanding of the risk of neonicotinoid insecticides. Their risk may
increase exponentially over time, rendering even very small amounts of
neonicotinoids much more toxic than previously realized. In a study
undertaken by myself and fellow scientist, Dr. Francisco Sanchez-Bayo
of Australia, we have recently published a review article in the Journal
of Environmental & Analytical Toxicology: "Time-Dependent Toxicity
of Neonicotinoids and Other Toxicants: Implications for a New Approach
to Risk Assessment" (J Environment Analytic Toxicol S4:001.
May I summarize my deep concerns:
"The article reviews a paradigm shift in the science of toxicology. The
dose : response characteristics of neonicotinoid insecticides and
certain metallic compounds turn out to be identical to those of
genotoxic carcinogens, the most dangerous substances we know. Such
poisons can have detrimental effects at any concentration level. Current
pesticide risk assessment procedures are flawed and have failed to
protect the environment. Regulators so far appear to be unwilling to
accept this inconvenient truth. The powerful pesticide lobby does not
want to face up to it either because the adoption of new risk assessment
procedures would almost certainly lead to a ban on the money-spinning
neonicotinoids, which are registered in more than 100 countries
worldwide for use on more than 140 crops. They also have widespread
applications in non-crop, including nursery, landscape, forestry, pest
control and veterinary applications. Neonicotinoids are persistent and
mobile in the soil and leach to ground water, and runoff to surface
waters. Insects are now quietly but rapidly disappearing all over the
globe, which will ultimately lead to collapse of the ecosystem and life
as we know it. This is an ecological disaster that will affect us all,
and that must be stopped."
by Dr Henk Tennekes 16/02/12
Please visit this important website (where the study reports and references can be found) to read more about the work of Dr Tennekes - click here (opens a new window)
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