Study says neonicotinoids may be killing our bee populations

Jack Picknell/Flickr
September 30, 2013

One of the most widely used class of insecticides in the world, known as neonicotinoids (pronounced knee-oh-nicotine-oids), may be killing our bee populations, and harming other pollinators, according to a new study. Some groups would like to see the products taken off the market altogether.

The report by the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation found that high levels of these insecticides can be lethal to bees, and even low levels of exposure can make them more susceptible to other diseases.

Executive director Scott Hoffman Black, says neonicotinoids can remain present in plants and the surrounding soil for years after a single application.

He says not enough research has been done to determine how multiple applications affect pollinators, which are integral to the production of healthy crops and ecosystems.

The US Environmental Protection Agency is currently reassessing when and where these insecticides should be used, but Hoffman Black says things need to move a lot faster.

“We actually now think that time enough has passed that we should have what we’re calling a neonicotinoid time out. We would take the most toxic neonicotinoids off the market until we see how toxic they are in certain situations.”

Neonicotinoids are used commercially on crops, and are widely available for domestic use.

Hoffman Black says the insecticide products should carry clear labels to warn gardeners that they may be lethal to bees and other pollinators, and their use for cosmetic reasons in gardens should eventually be banned.