The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced findings that neonicotinoid insecticides don’t work when applied as a seed treatment to soybean. Neonicotinoids are a group of chemicals which have been known to harm pollinators and as a result, their use was restricted in the EU last year. Due to these concerns, the EPA assessed the impacts on soybean in America and found that neonicotinoid seed treatments do not increase yields when compared to soybeans which had no pest control treatment at all.
The results of these findings are timely, given that some growers have expressed concerns that they will have to resort to less effective pesticides and that the future of farming would be threatened in the EU without the use of these chemicals. Buglife have always maintained that there has been very little evidence to show that these chemicals can protect the plant and protect crop yields.
Vanessa Amaral-Rogers, Buglife’s Campaigns Officer said “We were always concerned that there was no science to back up the claims that neonicotinoids benefit farmers. Although this research has only been done on soybean, there is a case for other crops to be assessed so that a full economic assessment can be undertaken. For example, why have oilseed rape yields not gone up since neonicotinoids started being used?”.
Neonicotinoids were often used as a seed treatment, they are taken up by the plant and remain there for a long period of time. This ‘Insurance policy’ is controversial, traditional methods rely on only using chemical treatments when a pest is actually present, and only after all other non-chemical methods have failed.
While some calling the ban in Europe a ‘Knee-jerk reaction' and others claiming the loss in crop yields will result in a food crisis, this report knocks another nail in the coffin of these dangerous unproven chemicals.