Neonicotinoids, the most widely used pesticides in the world, are being likened to DDT. Not only are they slowly killing beneficial insects like honeybees and earthworms, but based on the latest evidence, they endanger the livelihood of our entire planet.
According to the Task Force on Systemic Pesticides, a group of independent scientists from 15 countries, the neonicotinoid contamination is so widespread that the diversity and stability of the world’s ecosystem is at risk.
“We are witnessing a threat to the productivity of our natural and farmed environment, equivalent to that posed by organophosphates or DDT,” says Dr. Jean-Marc Bonmatin. Dr. Bonmatin is the lead author of an analysis of 800 peer-reviewed reports on the risk of neonicotinoids (and the systemic pesticide fipronil). DDT was widely promoted for pest control in the US after World War II, but was subsequently banned due to both environmental and human health concerns.
Meanwhile, the widespread use of neonicotinoids are also “killing the underpinning of the food chain,” says Scott Hoffman Black, Executive Director of the Xerces Society.
These pesticides, which were first introduced in the ‘90s, constitute 30 percent of the global insecticide market with sales of over $2.6 billion in 2009. Today, they are used on 200 million acres of crop land in the United States, including corn, cotton, canola, soybeans, fruits, and vegetables. This does not even account for home use. Neonicotinoids are used as seed treatments, applied as soil drench, or sprayed onto foliage.
Since making my documentary film Vanishing of the Bees, there are overwhelming studies that now show that these systemic pesticides, which are nicotine-based neurotoxins, are the root cause of Colony Collapse Disorder.
These insidious poisons are systemic and absorbed by the plant, making all parts of the plant — including nectar and pollen — toxic. They impair a honeybees’ ability to forage, making it impossible for them to find their way back home.
The latest stats on the total reported colony losses this year for beekeepers were estimated at 40 percent, according to researchers.
For instance, they damage sea urchin DNA, suppress the immune systems of crabs, and affect the tunneling and reproductive behavior of earthworms. They also kill off the insects that many birds, amphibians, and reptiles rely on for food.
Surprisingly (or not) Bayer still maintains that these POISONS are safe. When are people going to wake up to this insanity? Just like with humans, pesticides compromise the immune system, making it difficult to ward of viruses.
Marine Scientist Craig Downs says neonics are negatively impacting the marine life of the Central American Barrier Reef, stretching 700 miles from Mexico to Honduras. He found that imidacloprid is widely present in over 67 coral reef species tested and that it has genotoxic and reproductive effects on crabs, sea urchins, and other marine organisms at doses as low as 500 parts per trillion.
The systemic pesticides found their way to the ocean thanks to agricultural runoff. Farmers have been programmed to believe they need these poisons to ‘feed the world’ or to ensure high yields. This is a bunch of malarkey.
For instance, about 70 percent of the systemic pesticides used on soybean crops in a seed treatment are not even needed.
For those who believe that pesticides are a necessary evil, let’s look at the damage that outweigh any questionable benefits.
In human blood studies, neonicotinoids are linked to DNA damage and cell mutation. These systemic pesticides can stay in the soil for up to 18 years and their metabolites are even more dangerous than their parent compounds.
Watch this short documentary by Earth Focus to learn more. Or watch my award-winning film Vanishing of the Bees, narrated by Ellen Page.
We must come together to ban these poisons. Hopefully, it’s not too late.