Biodiversity is not only a townsman ideal with colorful flowers and a countryside with fallow fields with a few animals grazing here and there. Biodiversity is mostly a series of incredible services provided by nature and that benefit human daily through its agriculture. Pollination, cleaning water, soil and air, waste decomposition, climate regulation… in total, scientists amounted to 3,000 billion dollars the annual value of services provided by the ecosystem.
But today, this balance is threatened. Not only by the land consolidation, uprooting of hedges and profound change in the natural habitat of thousands of species to promote intensive agriculture, but more importantly and more profoundly by the widespread and systematic use of pesticides from the neonicotinoids family.
If they are used in a foliar (aerial application) or systemic (coating of the seed) way, they permanently pollute water and soil. They wreak havoc on non-target invertebrate populations (bees, ladybugs and beetles, freshwater molluscs, worms…) but are also a serious threat to mammals, fish and birds, which if they don’t immediately die from contact with neonicotinoids suffer impaired immunity, malnutrition, reproductive disorders and loss of cognitive capacity.
Recommendation: actual and total ban of neonicotinoid pesticides
- The findings in this study are clear: the neonicotinoid pesticides pose an unprecedented threat to biodiversity and thus for the future of agriculture and environmental sustainability. European authorities in charge of the validation of substances put on the market in Europe must immediately pronounce their total ban, and refuse to compromise: the danger is too serious. We have to go to an agriculture, which is more respectful of the biodiversity on which it depends
- The majority of services provided by nature for agriculture is irreplaceable, despite the efforts of the agrochemical industry to manufacture bee drones or new chemicals to clean water contaminated with their previous chemicals…
- We must rethink intensive agriculture and deal with the many scientific studies and farming initiatives which prove that we can keep the same crop yields while respecting nature.
.Neonicotinoids and environment – what science says:
a) Soil and plant pollution
- Measuring the concentration of imidacloprid in maize pollen from 30 to 130 days after sowing. DONNARUMMA L., PULCINI P., POCHI D., ROSATI S., LUSCO L., CONTE E., 2011. Preliminary study of persistence in soil and residues in maize of imidacloprid. Journal of Environmental Science and Health, Part B: Pesticides, Food Contaminants, and Agricultural Wastes, vol.46, issue 6, 469-472.
- Researchers measured the levels of imidacloprid of many corn plants between 2000 and 2003. The average grades are 2.1 ppb in pollen, 6.6 ppb in male flowers, and 4.1 ppb in the stems and leaves. BONMATIN J.M., MARCHAND P.A., CHARVET R., MOINEAU I., BENGSCH E.R., COLIN M.E., 2005a. Quantification of Imidacloprid Uptake in Maize Crops. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 53(13), 5336-5341.
- Measurement of the sugarbeet leaves containing imidacloprid from the coated seeds. ROUCHAUD J., GUSTIN F., WAUTERS A., 1994. Soil biodegradation and leaf transfer of insecticide imidacloprid applied in seed dressing in sugar beet crops. Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, 53, 344-350.
- Measures of neonicotinoids in the pollen and nectar of pumpkins plants treated with dinotefuran, thiamethoxam and imidacloprid with different application techniques. Far fewer residues in the pollen rather than in the nectar. Foliar application and chemigation leave the most residues (up to 122 ng/g in pollen and 17.6 ng/g in nectar). The residue levels after treatment of seeds or irrigation are less important. DIVELY G.P., KAMEL A., 2012. Insecticide residues in pollen and nectar of a cucurbit crop and their potential exposure to pollinators. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 60, 4449-4456.
- Imidacloprid has impacts on bees at sublethal doses (sometimes less than 1 microgram/kg). The study examines the presence of imidacloprid in the environment and more specifically in the pollen to determine whether the concentrations found are comparable to the data. The study shows a persistence of imidacloprid after one or two years in the soil that can be translocated back into the plant. The active substance is also detected in untreated maize and sunflower plants due to the absorption and translocation of this product present in the soil. Imidacloprid is detected in the pollen of sunflower and maize at an average concentration of 3 micrograms / kg (=3ppb) and is therefore likely to have sublethal effects on bees. BONMATIN J., MOINEAU I., CHARVET R., COLIN M., FLECHE C., BENGSCH E., 2005b. Behaviour of Imidacloprid in Fields. Toxicity for Honey Bees, Environmental Chemistry, 483-494.
- In hemlock fir, applying imidacloprid diluted directly under trees causes content from 120 to 220 ppb in their tissues. COWLES R.S., MONTGOMERY M.E., CHEAH C.A., 2006. Activity and residues of imidacloprid applied to soil and tree trunks to control hemlock woolly adelgid (Hemiptera: Adelgidae) in forests. Journal of Economic Entomology, 99(4), 1258-1267.
b) Aquatic pollution
- Conclusion of the great investigation of the Task Force on Systemic Pesticides about the impact of neonicotinoids on living organisms and the environment.
VAN DER SLUIJS J.P., AMARAL-ROGERS V., BELZUNCES L.P., BIJLEVELD VAN LEXMOND M.F.I.J., BONMATIN J.M., CHAGNON M., DOWNS C.A., FURLAN L., GIBBONS D.W., GIORIO C., GIROLAMI V., GOULSON D., KREUTZWEISER D.P., KRUPKE C., LIESS M., LONG E., MCFIELD M., MINEAU P., MITCHELL E.A.D., MORRISSEY C.A., NOOME D.A., PISA L., SETTELE J., SIMON-DELSO N., STARK J.D., TAPPARO A., VAN DYCK H., VAN PRAAGH J., WHITEHORN P.R., WIEMERS M., 2014. Conclusions of the Worldwide Integrated Assessment on the risks of neonicotinoids and fipronil to biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. Environmental Science and Pollution Research, DOI 10.1007/s11356-014-3229-5, 6p.
- Measurements of groundwater Pollution in the vicinity of rice crops in Vietnam which are treated with imidacloprid. Concentration found on average 0.22 ppm. LAMERS M., ANYUSHEVA M., LA N., NGUYEN V.V., STRECK T., 2011. Pesticide pollution in surface and groundwater by paddy rice cultivation : a case study from Northern Vietnam. Clean-Soil Air Water, 39, 356-361.
- Imidacloprid concentration was 14 ppb in freshwater in the United States. Also studied the impact of imidacloprid on microcrustaceans. Little dangerous exposure compared to the concentrations found in nature unless pesticides are discharged into a small pond. JEMEC A., TISLER T., DROBNE D., SEPCIC K., FOURNIER D., TREBSE P., 2007. Comparative toxicity of imidacloprid, of its commercial liquid formulation and of diazinon to a non-target arthropod, the microcrustacean Daphnia magna. Chemosphere, 68, 1408–1418.
- Study on the environmental impacts of imidacloprid. FOSSEN M., 2006. Environmental fate of imidacloprid. Department of Pesticide Regulation, Sacramento, 16p.
- In this study, the abundance in benthic organisms and in arthropods is largely affected in the water of the rice plots treated with imidacloprid and fipronil. Therefore, medaka fish growth is indirectly affected by the lack of supply. HAYASAKA D., KORENAGA T., SUZUKI K., SAITO F., SANCHEZ-BAYO F., GOKA K., 2012; Cumulative ecological impacts of two successive annual treatments of imidacloprid and fipronil on aquatic communities of paddy mesocosms. Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety, 80, 355-362.
- The concentration of imidacloprid exceeds the quality standards of the Dutch water in many places. A negative correlation between the presence of many aquatic species and neonicotinoids is demonstrated by this study. Significant negative relationship between several invertebrates and concentration of imidacloprid found in water. VAN DIJK T.C., VAN STAALDUINEN M., VAN DER SLUIJS S., 2013. Macro-invertebrate decline in surface water polluted with imidacloprid, PLoS ONE.
a) Impact on invertebrates
- Study proving that the lethal concentration of imidacloprid in the soil can be achieved for example when imidacloprid is injected into the ground to treat EAB (Emerald Ash Borer). In this situation, the worms are exposed to a highly toxic concentration of imidacloprid in the soil. KREUTZWEISER D.P., GOOD K.P., CHARTRAND D.T., SCARR T.A., THOMPSON D.G., 2008b. Are leaves that fall from imidacloprid-treated maple trees to control Asian longhorned beetles toxic to non-target decomposer organisms? Journal of Environmental Quality, 37, 639-646.
- Study demonstrating that imidacloprid strongly favors deformation of earthworms’ sperms when its concentration exceeds 0.5 ppm in the soil. LUO Y., ZANG Y., ZHONG Y., KONG Z., 1999. Toxicological study of two novel pesticides on earthworm Eisenia foetida. Chemosphere, 39, 2347-2356.
- With sublethal concentration for the earthworm, imidacloprid found in the soil impairs the ability of earthworms to tunneling and gas flows less easily into the ground. CAPOWIEZ Y., BASTARDIE F., COSTAGLIOLA G., 2006. Sublethal effects of imidacloprid on the burrowing behaviour of two earthworm species : modifications of the 3D burrow systems in artificial soil cores and consequences on gas diffusion in soil. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 38, 285-293.
- A linear decrease in the volume of tunnels dug by earthworms in the soil is found in parallel to increased concentration of imidacloprid. DITTBRENNER N., MOSER I., TRIEBSKORN R., CAPOWIEZ Y., 2011. Assessment of short and long-term effects of imidacloprid on the burrowing behavior of two earthworm species (Aporrectodea caliginosa and Lumbricus terrestris) by using 2D and 3D post-exposure techniques. Chemosphere, 84, 1349-1355.
- Researchers showed that after exposure to a concentration of 0.66 ppm of imidacloprid, the production of macroaggregates by earthworms decreases after seven days. After the said period, body mass decreases significantly (less than 32.4% and less than 39% depending on the species). DITTBRENNER N., TRIEBSKORN R., MOSER I., CAPOWIEZ Y., 2010. Physiological and behavioural effects of imidacloprid on two ecologically relevant earthworm species (Lumbricus terrestris and Aporrectodea caliginosa). Ecotoxicology, 19, 1567-1573.
- Sublethal effects on earthworms. Study of the effect of imidacloprid at sublethal doses in the soil on two kinds of earthworms. Weight loss and behavior change. The burrows are shallowest, more superficial. CAPOWIEZ Y., BERARD A., 2006. Assessment of the effects of imidacloprid on the behavior of two earthworm species (Aporrectodea nocturna and Allolobophora icterica) using 2D terraria. Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety, 64, 198-206.
- This experiment lead in real conditions by Kreutzweiser et al. (2009) has detected that the consumption of apple leaves treated with imidacloprid at labeled rates causes sublethal effects of inhibition of feeding in worms living in surface litter. KREUTZWEISER D.P., THOMPSON D.G., SCARR T.A., 2009. Imidacloprid in leaves from systemically treated trees may inhibit litter breakdown by non-target invertebrates. Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety, 72, 1053-1057.
- The researchers studied the impact of imidacloprid on freshwater shrimp (Gammarus Pulex). Researchers have shown that imidacloprid upsets the way to feed of these organisms. Exposed to low concentrations (15 μg/L) for 14 days, the shrimps are no longer able to move or to feed and eventually die. NYMAN A.M., HINTERMEISTER A., SCHIRMER K., ASHAUER R., 2013. The Insecticide Imidacloprid Causes Mortality of the Freshwater AmphipodGammarus pulex by Interfering with Feeding Behavior. PLoS ONE.
- Researchers have revealed the high risk associated with exposure to water containing imidacloprid for ephemeral flies.
ROESSINK I., MERGA L.B., ZWEERS H.J., VAN DEN BRINK P.J., 2013. The neonicotinoid imidacloprid shows high chronic toxicity to mayfly nymphs. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, 32(5), 1096-1100.
- Testing the impact of imidacloprid on non-target arthropods. Impact on many soil arthropods: Hemiptera, thrips, beetles, springtails. Specifically, the use of this insecticide on turf on three consecutive seasons grows affects the abundance of Collembola and adult beetles from 54% to 62%. PECK D., 2009. Long-term effects of imidacloprid on the abundance of surface- and soil- active non target fauna in turf. Agricultural and Forest Entomology, 11(4), 405-419.
- The study proves that in the presence of imidacloprid, insects living in the soil such as beetles and termites are more susceptible to be attacked by nematodes.
KOPPENHOFER A.M., COWLES R.S., COWLES E.A., FUZY E.M., BAUMGARTNER L., 2002. Comparison of neonicotinoid insecticides as synergists for entomopathogenic nematodes. Biological Control, 24, 90-97.
- Effects on ladybugs: the acetamiprid is highly toxic at all life stages of these insects at doses yet recommended to kill the mites. Thiamethoxam reduces the amount of larvae.
YOUN Y., SEO M., SHIN J., JANG C., YU Y., 2003. Toxicity of greenhouse pesticides to multicolored Asian lady beetles, Harmonia axyridis (Coleoptera : Coccinellidae). Biological control, 28, 164-170.
b) Indirect effects on soil quality and plant production
- Web page that describes well the role of soil arthropods.
ROVILLE M., 2014. The builders of the soil. Sagascience, CNRS.
- Study proving that earthworms increase by 35% the production of aboveground biomass of legumes. EISENHAUER N., MILCU A., NITSCHKE N., SABAIS A.C.W., SCHERBER C., SCHEU S., 2009. Earthworm and belowground competition effects on plant productivity in a plant diversity gradient. Oecologia, 161(2), 291-301.
- Study conducted in surface waters in agricultural areas, which shows that increasing the concentration of imidacloprid leads to lower consumption and decomposition of leaves by Gammarus fossarum. ENGLERT D., BUNDSCHUH M., SCHULZ R., 2012. Thiaclopride affects trophic interaction between gammarids and mayflies. Environmental Pollution, 167, 41-46.
- Study proving that in laboratory conditions insects leaf shredders almost don’t fill their role in the presence of imidacloprid. KREUTZWEISER D.P., GOOD K.P., CHARTRAND D.T., SCARR T.A., THOMPSON D.G., 2008a. Toxicity of the Systemic Insecticide, Imidacloprid, to Forest Stream Insects and Microbial Communities. Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, 80(3), 211-214.
c) Indirect effects on trophic interactions
- Study conducted in the Netherlands. Researchers have studied populations of five different species of birds between 2003 and 2010 in areas where surface water contained a high concentration of imidacloprid. They then recorded a decrease in the number of birds of 3.5% per year. In this country, the use of neonicotinoids has increased tenfold between 1994 and 2004. In addition, nine of the fifteen species of birds studied feed exclusively on insects. However, researchers found a decrease in insect populations in areas where the water contains imidacloprid. In the absence of other explanations, researchers have come to the conclusion that it is the lack of prey due to the presence of neonicotinoids in the water that cause bird losses. HALLMANN C.A., FOPPEN R.P.B., VAN TURNHOUT C.A.M., DE KROON H., JONGEJANS E., 2014. Declines in insectivorous birds are associated with high neonicotinoid concentrations. Nature, 511, 341-343.
- Sanchez-Bayo and Goka (2006) also conducted an investigation on rice plots treated with imidacloprid. They observed a significant decrease in the abundance of plankton, nekton and the benthos compared to populations in the untreated water plots. Two species, yet very important, were removed from cultures treated with imidacloprid. These are the yoshimatsui Chironomus (Diptera Nematocera) and ostracods (tiny crustaceans). This absence has led to a disruption of the ecosystem balance leading to the proliferation of green algae, usually controlled by the extinct organisms.
SANCHEZ-BAYO F., GOKA K., 2006. Ecological effects of the insecticide imidacloprid and a pollutant antidandruff shampoo in experimental rice fields. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, 25, 1677-1687.
- Researchers have unveiled the indirect effect of fipronil on lizards. Although it is not but a neonicotinoid but a phenylpyrazole, it acts also systemically and its toxicity is comparable to that of imidacloprid. Used to control populations of migratory locusts in Madagascar, it also halved the population of termites. Therefore, the two species of lizards that feed mainly on these termites are declining. PEVELING R., MCWILLIAM A.N., NAGEL P., RASOLOMANANA H., RAHOLIJAONA, RAKOTOMIANINA L., RAVONINJATOVO A., DEWHURST C.F., GIBSON G., RAFANOMEZANA S., TINGLE C.C.D., 2003. Impact of locust control on harvester termites and endemic vertebrate predators in Madagascar. Journal of Applied Ecology, 40(4), 729-741.
- Recent article by the Task Force on Systemic insecticides that lists studies describing the direct and indirect effects of neonicotinoids on vertebrates.
GIBBONS D., MORRISSEY C. MINEAU P., 2014. A review of the direct and indirect effects of neonicotinoids and fipronil on vertebrate wildlife. Environmental Science and Pollution Research International, DOI 10.1007/s11356-014-3180-5.
- This study identifies the risks posed by seed treatments for seed-eating birds, but also for others. Note that the daily consumption of seeds for most birds tested are exposing them to toxic doses. PROSSER P., HART A., 2005. Assessing potential exposure of birds to pesticide-treated seeds. Ecotoxicology, 14, 679-691.
- This article highlights the fact that birds may be subject to other routes of exposure to pesticides rather than through their diet. Thus, direct contact with pesticides during spraying may have adverse consequences on the health of birds. MINEAU P., 2011. Barking up the wrong perch: why we should stop ignoring non-dietary routes of pesticide exposure in birds. Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management, 7(2), 297- 299.
1) Lethal effects of pesticides in accordance with the systemic taxa
- Report sheet on imidacloprid giving the main physical and chemical characteristics of the molecule. It provides lethal concentrations for some organisms as for the steelhead. COX C., 2001. Insecticide factsheet: Imidacloprid. Journal of Pesticide Reform, 21, 15-21.
- Study examining the effects of realistic concentrations of Fipronil on aquatic organisms in estuaries. Very low concentrations (5 ppb) are sufficient to affect shrimp. WIRTH E., PENNINGTON P., LAWTON J., DE LORENZO M., BEARDEN D., SHADDRIX B., SIVERTSEN S., FULTON M., 2004. The effects of the contemporary-use insecticide Firponil in an estuarine mesocosm. Environmental Pollution, 131, 365-371.
b) Land Vertebrates
- A study investigating the impacts of pesticides on wildlife and wild flora was conducted in 18 European countries over the period 1990 – 1994. Accident registers of this type have only been implemented in seven countries. Many incidents have been recorded in particular in France, Holland and the UK. Surveys have been conducted on more than 1,000 accidents to determine their cause (licensed pesticide use, abuse, species and compounds involved). Most incidents that occured under authorized doses were due to seed treatments or wood (neonicotinoids and fipronil). Few incidents are directly related to the spraying of products. Nevertheless, the authors are skeptical about the viability of a study based on the records. DE SNOO G., SCHEIDEGGER N., DE JONG F., 1999. Vertebrate wildlife incidents with pesticides: a european survey. Pesticide Science, 55(1), 47-57.
- Experiments using liquid chromatography to detect the presence of imidacloprid or its metabolites in the first organs and tissues of affected animals. Toxic residues have been found in particular in the liver of dead pigeons. BERNY P., BURONFOSSE F., VIDEMANN B., BURONFOSSE T., 1999. Evaluation of the toxicity of imidacloprid in wild birds. A new high performance thin layer chromatography (HPTLC) method for the analysis of liver and crop samples in suspected poisoning cases. Journal of liquid chromatography and related technologies, 22(10), 1547-1559.
- A major study on the impact of neonicotinoids on birds. The authors show that these insecticides can have lethal and sublethal effects on bird and they also affect marine ecosystems on which most birds are dependent. Marine invertebrate populations that are normally prey for birds are decimated in that way. MINEAU P., PALMER C., 2013. The impact of the nation’s most widely used insecticides on birds. American Bird Conservancy, USA, 97p.
2) Sublethal effects
a) Reproductive Effects
- Study on the effects of clothianidin on reproduction in rats. It appears that the rat sperm is deteriorated with the consumption of 32 mg of clothianidin per day. Such a concentration is likely to affect their ability to survive. BAL R., TURK G., YILMAZ O., ETEM E., KULOGLU T., BAYDAS G., NAZIROGLU M., 2012. Effects of clothianidin exposure on sperm quality, testicular apoptosis and fatty acid composition in developing male rats. Cell Biology and Toxicology, 28, 187-200.
- High doses of imidacloprid increase the risk of abortion. They also cause an impairment of skeletal and soft tissues. Imidacloprid causes various negative effects on immunity according to the age of the rat. They can be particularly severe if the exposure occurs throughout development. GAWADE L., DADARKAR S.S., HUSAIN R., GATNE M., 2013. A detailed study of developmental immunotoxicity of imidacloprid on Wistar rats. Food Chemistry and Toxicology, 51, 61-70.
- Study of lethal and sublethal effects of the ingestion of treated seed on red-legged partridges. Performed with two fungicides and imidacloprid. Each time, the certified test dose and double dose is used to see the effect of abuse potential. Study of direct and indirect effects on fitness, physiology, immunology, coloration and breeding on exposed partridges. Eggs (measured, incubated), growth and survival of chick can also be affected. 58.3% mortality due to exposure to high dose of imidacloprid. Whatever dose, imidacloprid has sublethal effects: altered biochemical parameters, oxidative stress, etc. They also find a weaker immune response and a reduction in the survival of chicks. Study conclusion: The toxicity of coated seeds is a factor to consider in the decline of birds in agricultural areas. LOPEZ-ANTIA A., ORTIZ-SANTALIESTRA M.E., MOUGEOT F., MATEO R., 2013. Experimental exposure of red-legged partridges (Alectoris rufa) to seeds coated with imidacloprid, thiram and difenoconazole. Ecotoxicology, 22(1), 125-138.
- In this study, Mineau raises the fact that the approval of insecticides tests do not take into account the sublethal effects that may occur to parents about their ability to hatch their eggs and raise their young. MINEAU P., 2005. A review and analysis of study endpoints relevant to the assessment of “long term” pesticide toxicity in avian and mammalian wildlife. Ecotoxicology, 14, 775-799.
b) Physiological and behavioral effects
- This study describes the effect of imidacloprid in a concentration 100 times lower than the one of LD50 in rats. Exposed rats (0.21 ppm) undergo many sublethal effects such as low immunology or oxidative stress. MOHANY M., EL-FEKI M., REFAAT I., BADR G., 2012. Immunological and histological effects of exposure to imidacloprid insecticide in male albino rats. African Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, 5(18), 2106-2114.
- Study on toxicological effects of clothianidin in low doses on quail. Doses of 1 and 50 mg/kg are sufficient to cause sublethal effects (development of eggs and embryos affected). TOKUMOTO J., DANJO M., KOBAYASHI Y., KINOSHITA K., OMOTEHARA T., TATSUMI A., HASHIGUCHI M., SEKIJIMA T.,KAMISOYAMA H., YOKOYAMA T., KITAGAWA H., HOSHI N., 2013. Effects of exposure to clothianidin on the reproductive system of male quails. The Journal of veterinary medical science, 75(6), 755-760.
- At low concentrations of Imidacloprid stress effects are induced in the medaka fish, which favor the aggression of an ectoparasite (Trichodina).
SANCHEZ-BAYO F., GOKA K., 2005. Unexpected effects of zinc pyrithione and imidacloprid on Japanese medaka fish (Oryzias latipes). Aquatic Toxicology, 74, 285-293.
- Study of the effect of imidacloprid in low doses over an amphibian (Rana N. Hallowell). Sublethal effects occur from a concentration of 0.05 ppm of imidacloprid (DNA damage). The effects increase with increasing concentration of the imidacloprid in the environment. FENG S., KONG Z., WANG X., ZHAO L., PENG P., 2004. Acute toxicity and genotoxicity of two novel pesticides on amphibian, Rana N. Hallowell. Chemosphere, 56(5), 457-463.