Common pesticides more toxic than originally thought

Wednesday 2nd April 2014

A new study has found that a number of commonly used pesticides are far more dangerous to humans than we have been led to believe.

The study undertaken by a team in France looked at nine pesticides, three fungicides, insecticides and herbicides, including two neonicotinoids and Roundup, the most frequently used pesticide worldwide.

Pesticides contain two types of chemicals, the ‘active ingredient’ which is tested during the regulation process, and adjuvants, chemicals added to the product which the pesticide companies call '‘inert’. These ‘inert’ chemicals change the effect of other ingredients and so are added to increase the efficiency of the overall product, however the combined product is often not tested.

The study compared the toxicity on human cells of the active ingredient to the overall product used by the consumer. They found that 8 out of 9 products were up to one thousand times more toxic than the approved active ingredients with Roundup being one of the most toxic.

Vanessa Amaral-Rogers, Buglife’s Campaigns Officer said “There is a serious problem if the end product hasn’t been properly tested. If we don’t even know what these pesticides can do to humans, it’s impossible to understand their effect on other wildlife and the environment. This has been flagged up in other studies but still hasn’t been addressed”.

Last year, the European Commission restricted the use of three of the five neonicotinoids approved for use in the European Union. The remaining two were deemed less dangerous and were not reviewed, even though a study in 2004 had shown that they became over a thousand times more toxic to bees when used with common fungicides, which often happens when crops are sprayed.

To see the original paper, click here