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  • Writer's pictureJohn Humphreys

Neonicotinoid pesticides: Silent Spring, déjà vu

I recently attended a webinar presented by the American Bird Conservancy. It presented voluminous data to show that the dominant pesticides called neonicotinoids ('neonics') have been responsible for a crash in bird numbers - directly, through poisoning birds through their consumption of neonic-coated seed, and indirectly through mass depletion of insect populations (96% of bird species in the US eat insects at some stage in their life).

Neonicotinoids, when applied to seed, are carried by the growing plant to all its parts - roots, stem, leaves, flowers and fruit. Just one coated seed can kill a bird and the nectar becomes poisonous for bumblebees, other native bees and honeybees.

As inevitably neonic residues reach the soil and watercourses, they persist in the environ

ment and affect aquatic life too.

Ironically, the cost-benefit of using these chemicals so lavishly has often not been established.

Regulation of these broad-spectrum, environmentally persistent chemicals is mediocre. We are, essentially, creating another 'Silent Spring', sixty years after Rachel Carson raised her voice in protest at the devastating effects of DDT on the environment.

Have we learned nothing at all?


The Protect America's Children from Toxic Pesticides Act (S.269), reintroduced this February in the Senate, would restrict the sale and use of harmful pesticides, protect farmworkers, and empower citizens to help control the chemicals used in their communities.

Call on your Senators to support the Protect America's Children from Toxic Pesticides Act. Implore them to remove harmful chemicals from the environment and keep birds and people safe.

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