When is a pesticide not a pesticide? When it coats a seed

Image of farmers looking at coated seeds.

(Bloomberg Environment) If you apply a chemical to a field of crops, either from a sprayer towed behind a tractor or from above, by an aerial crop duster, that is considered a pesticide. However, if you take that same chemical and coat it on a seed, then plant that seed in the ground, it ceases to be pesticide – at least according to government regulators. This exemption is what allowed the use of neonics to take off in the late 1990s. But this exemption was never meant for agriculture.

The pesticide industry’s playbook for poisoning the Earth

Illustration of a swarm of pollinators.

(The Intercept) Lobbying documents and emails obtained by The Intercept show a vast strategy by the pesticide industry to influence academics, beekeepers, and regulators, and to divert attention away from the potential harm caused by neonicotinoids. As a result, the global neonics industry generated $4.42 billion in 2018. In the meantime, the effects are being seen in massive insect die-offs. Certain insects are nearing extinction.

Insecticides becoming more toxic to honey bees

Image of bee on leaf tip.

(PennState) During the past 20 years, insecticides applied to U.S. agricultural landscapes have become significantly more toxic — over 120-fold in some midwestern states — to honey bees when ingested, according to a team of researchers, who identified rising neonicotinoid seed treatments in corn and soy as the primary driver of this change.

Colorado lawmakers propose bee bill to protect our ‘most important pollinators’

Image of honey bees on frame.

(CBS4) Colorado state legislators, environmental advocates and beekeepers announced the introduction of a bill to protect bees. The “Protect Pollinators Regulate Neonicotinoids” bill is designed to reduce the use of neonics. Environment Colorado said it would present thousands of petitions gathered across Colorado in support of this initiative.

EU Commission bans Bayer pesticide linked to harming bees

Image of Bayer flags.

(Reuters) The European Commission decided not to renew approval for thiacloprid. The Commission based its assessment on findings of the European Food Safety Agency published in January last year. The findings highlighted concerns about the active substance being toxic for humans and present in too great a concentration in ground water. The pesticide also harms bees and bumblebees, weakening their immune systems and impairing their reproduction, the findings said.

Neonicotinoids: despite EU moratorium, bees still at risk

Image of honey bees on comb.

(CNRS) Despite a 2013 moratorium on the use of neonicotinoids in the European Union, residues of these insecticides can still be detected in rape nectar from 48 percent of the plots studied, their concentrations varying greatly over the years. These findings indicate that persistent use of neonicotinoids with certain crops in open fields threatens bees and pollinators frequenting other, untreated crops; they confirm that residues remain and spread in the environment.

House panel advances bill to curb pesticides on wildlife refuges

Image of silhouette of bird and grass.

(Bloomberg Environment) The Protect Our Refuges Act of 2019 (H.R. 2854) would reinstate a 2014 ban on the use of neonicotinoid insecticides in national wildlife refuges. The Trump administration’s Interior Department revoked the 2014 ban in August of 2018, citing the increased importance of genetically modified (GMO) seed crops, which often contain neonicotinoid seed coatings, for maintaining agricultural operations of wildlife preserves.