World’s most widely used insecticide having dangerous effect

Dragonflies, snails and other water-based species are affected by pesticides leaking into water | Frank Krahmer/ Frank Krahmer/zefa/Corbis

Dragonflies, snails and other water-based species are affected by pesticides leaking into water | Frank Krahmer/ Frank Krahmer/zefa/Corbis

Dutch research reveals correlation between water polluted with imidacloprid and low numbers of aquatic insects

Guardian, UK – THE world’s most widely used insecticide is devastating dragonflies, snails and other water-based species, a groundbreaking Dutch study has revealed.

On Monday (April 29), the insecticide and two others were banned for two years from use on some crops across the European Union, due to the risk posed to bees and other pollinators, on which many food crops rely.

“We are risking far too much to combat a few insect pests that might threaten agriculture,” said Dr Jeroen van der Sluijs at Utrecht University. “This substance should be phased out internationally as soon as possible.” The pollution was so bad in some places that the ditch water in fields could have been used as an effective pesticide, he said.

The research, published in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS One, found that 70 per cent less invertebrate species were found in water polluted with the insecticide compared to clean water. There were also far fewer individuals of each species in the polluted water. “This is the first study to show this happens in the field,” van der Sluijs said. As well as killing mayflies, midges and molluscs, the pollution could have a knock-on effect on birds such as swallows that rely on flying insects for food, he added.

“Bee-harming pesticides are now leaking into water where they are affecting wildlife,” said Friends of the Earth’s Paul de Zylva. “This study shows safety levels for chemicals are being routinely breached. Apart from not being properly tested for their risk to bees and other wildlife, pesticides are being used significantly above safe levels and without proper enforcement.” More…

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On Sunday, April 28, the London Observer revealed the desperate and intense secret lobbying by Paterson and Syngenta  – respectively, the British environment secretary, Owen Paterson, and a British chemical company – against the proposed ban on neonicotinoids, revealed in documents obtained by the Observer.

“The chemical companies, which make billions from the products, have also lobbied hard, with Syngenta even threatening to sue individual European Union officials involved in publishing a report that found the pesticides posed an unacceptable risk to bees, according to documents seen by the Observer. The report, from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), led the commission to propose a two-year ban on three neonicotinoids. ‘EFSA has provided a strong, substantive and scientific case for the suspension,” a commission spokesman said.”

“A ban has been supported by petitions signed by millions of people and Paterson has received 80,000 emails, an influx that he described as a ‘cyber-attack’.

“One Syngenta executive, mentioning in passing his recent lunch with Barack Obama, claimed that ‘a small group of activists and hobby bee-keepers’ were behind that campaign for a ban. Another letter claims, without citing evidence, that the production of key crops would fall by ‘up to 40 per cent’.”

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