Neonicotinoids were once hailed as the future of pesticides. Billed in the 1990’s as less harmful than traditional poisons, the lab-created, nicotine-based chemical produced by Bayer Monsanto and Syngenta gets absorbed by plants instead of sitting on the surface, and attacks the central nervous system of insects that land or prey upon them.
They quickly became among the most popular pesticides, being applied to all manner of flowering crops, but a contentious French ban on the popular type of pesticide that is decimating bee populations goes into effect on September 1, 2018 as new findings are published showing bumblebees get addicted to the harmful chemical.
However, parallel with the rise in popularity of neonicotinoid pesticides was a rapid dying off of bees and other pollinators. Between 1989 and 2015, the number of French beehives declined by over 30%, according to the French Ministry of Agriculture, part of a mass mortality referred to as “colony collapse disorder.”
A number of factors were initially fingered for the affliction, including fungi and viruses, but mounting evidence has proven that pesticides, and neonicotinoids in particular, are the major cause.
France has the strictest pesticide laws in the European Union, which has only banned three of the five for agricultural uses. In the long run the pesticide doesn’t repulse insects: it attracts them, and then it kills them.
The new law only covers neonicotinoid use in agriculture, though, leaving environmentalists and bee fans concerned about its continued use in non-agricultural pest control, such as in flea collars for pet cats and dogs, or in household fly traps.
Sputnik / ABC Flash Point Pesticide News 2018.