Pesticides linked to 'total ecological collapse'
Controversial pesticides linked to 'total ecological
collapse' of insects and birds
Dearbhla Crosse and Tom Levitt
16th November, 2010
Widespread use of insecticides affecting bee populations but also causing decline in numbers of birds, butterflies and moths, warns Dutch toxicologist
A new book is blaming the significant decline of bird and bee numbers across Europe on the use of certain pesticides in agriculture.
In The Systemic Insecticides: A Disaster in the Making, toxicologist Dr Henk Tennekes suggests that dangerous insecticides known as neonicotinoids are seriously affecting bird and insect life, and their continued use could result in an ‘environmental catastrophe’.
Neonicotinoids are often used as seed-dressing for maize, sunflower and rapeseed. However, Tennekes says as well as spreading throughout the entire plant and into the nectar and pollen, they also have a high leaching potential and seep into soils and groundwater. Even low concentrations of the pesticide may be more deadly then previously thought due to their high persistence in soil and water, he adds.
In a study published in the journal Toxicologyearlier this year, Tennekes had suggested this could be a factor behind declining bee numbers across Europe. He now believes bees are not the only victims.
‘Any insect that feeds on the crop dies. Any bee or butterfly that collects pollen or nectar from the crop is poisoned. Neonicotinoids behave like carcinogens, and easily contaminate ground and surface water. There could be dire long-term consequences of environmental pollution with these insecticides, and my fears were confirmed by extensive research,’ says Tennekes.
In his book, Tennekes writes that even minute traces of these pesticides could be fatal to insects, as continued use affects food availability for birds, a lack of weeds resulting in a loss of insects, as well as seeds. This decline is also linked to a lack of larger insects upon which chicks depend for their survival, which in turn affects breeding.
‘An ecological collapse is already taking place before our eyes,’ Tennekes told theEcologist. ‘Numerous bird species do not find enough food for their chicks as insects are being exterminated by pesticides. Insects are vital in ecosystems. In fact, we need them for human survival.’
The Soil Association, which along with Buglife and Pesticide Action Network UK has previously called for neonicotinoid pesticides to be banned, says the decline in bee numbers alone should serve as an early warning.
‘In the UK alone, beekeepers [have in the recent past] reported a loss of one in three bee colonies,’ said a spokesperson. ‘This has serious consequences for worldwide food security, because bees are our most important pollinators and play a vital role in the food chain – it is estimated that one-third of human food supplies depend on bee pollination. Bees are therefore like the "canary in the coal mine" – their deaths are a warning to us all that the health of the planet is under threat.’
See below below
neocotinoids approved: If orchardists in the BOP region are
example - it seems like opportunity cost to me. Which makes
the most money for growers/ag industry? Pesticides or
and similar neonicotinoids Bayer's view
collection of references to these insecticides
which may grow or change with time...
So MAF has dutifully removed most from its website database, except for a few "remaining". ERMA notes that it has accepted responsibility, and posts a number of documents detailing the beaurocracy of the transfer and observes that full details should be available by the end of 2004.
following substances are among those known to ERMA:
Note the "approved uses" are taken from sales material until such time as ERMA updates its presentation.
Trade name active ingredient(s) Maker approved use(s) in NZ
Calypso thiacloprid Bayer woolly aphid on pip fruit
+ cyfluthrin Bayer foliar spray for onion thrip
plastic pump pack for home garden use
Cruiser thiamethoxam Syngenta | Novartis maize seed treatment
Gaucho imidacloprid Bayer for several pasture, forage & maize
seed pre-sowing treatment
Poncho clothianidin Bayer maize seed treatment
Premise imidacloprid Bayer cockroach gel
ERMA is also in receipt of applications to import
or manufacture several neonicotinoid substances in New
Zealand. ERMA publishes on its website the application (not
always in full), and various interim and supplemental
documents. You may find a better way, I did a text search on
the technical name of the active ingredient at ERMA's
Hazardous Substance search page, to be returned a list of
.pdf & .doc, varying from 10kB to 100kB.
Trade name active ingredient(s) Maker intended use(s)
Actara thiamethoxam Syngenta leaf spray for kiwifruit & pipfruit
Advantage multi imidacloprid
+ moxidectin Bayer pour-on for dogs:
fleas & worms
+ permethrin Bayer pour-on for dogs
Nissan Cleaner imidacloprid
+ cyproconazole Juken Nissho vacuum/pressure timber treatment, all product for export
Pilarking imidacloprid Adria NZ Ltd thrip control on onions
And this one is for the conspiracy theorists and crop circlers:
imidacloprid Bayer assessing the efficacy, crop selectivity and the residue decay profile.
The three substances listed, BCS005-03, BCS006-03, and BCS007-03, may or may not contain the active ingredients listed, singly or in combination. The formulations are stated to be confidential, and are contained in a Management Plan as an Appendix to the application. Only 25 of the 42 pages are published on ERMA's website. However the Toxicology statement permits us to deduce those are probably the active ingredients. Toxicity information includes the following LD50:
3.7 microgram per bee
thiacloprid = 17.9 microgram per bee
deltamethrin = 0.079 microgram per bee
this with the nanograms of neonicotinoid required for
disorientation in Eric Mussen's paper from UCD.
In NZ ERMA appears to accept 1 part per million as acceptable soil residue for imidacloprid.
Some USA labels warn that for rotational crops, if the following crop does not appear as approved on the label, or has no established tolerance, then a 12 month plantback delay should be observed.
The following are a few of the known uses of this family of insecticides in USA:
We have indicated the availability
of specimen labels for these USA products The link will take
you to a page from where you may download labels,
supplementary labels, and Material Safety Data Sheets. Note
that different or supplementary labels may be required in
different states of USA, or for use of the same product on
different crops. These documents are nearly all .pdf and
vary in size between 10kB & 100kB.
Trade name active ingredient(s) Maker principal use(s) Labels
Actara thiamethoxam Syngenta
leaf spray for wide range of food crops and orchard fruits yes
Calypso thiacloprid Bayer leaf spray orchard fruits yes
Centric thiamethoxam Syngenta leaf
Cruiser thiamethoxam Syngenta pre-sowing seed treatment for wide range of crops 1 below
Gaucho imidacloprid Gustafson
pre & post sowing seed protection for wide range of pasture and crops yes
Genesis imidacloprid Gustafson pre sowing protection for potatoes yes
+ cyfluthrin Bayer leaf spray on a wide range of crops yes
Platinum thiamethoxam Syngenta soil
applied pre- and post-emergence on wide range of fruiting
also available with mefenoxam fungicide yes
Poncho clothianidin Gustafson pre-sowing seed protection for corn canola rape yes
+ mancozeb pre & post sowing seed protection for corn
+ metalaxyl Gustafson pre-sowing seed treatment for canola & rape yes
Provado imidacloprid leaf spray on cotton, grapes potatoes, food crops yes
Trimax imidachloprid cotton leaf spray yes
1. Cruiser is not listed on Syngenta's US website in spite of gaining EPA approval in November 2002.
A supplemental labelling requirement includes:
• To protect the Preble's Meadow Jumping Mouse,
sunflower seed treated with Cruiser 5FS may not be planted
in Elbert or Weld Counties in Colorado. Treated sunflower seed
must be planted at a minimum depth of one inch.