I am writing you as a scientist and as an agribusiness-man who has used both aldicarb and neonicotinoid systemic insecticides commercially and has suffered losses of honey bees foraging on treated crops. I have had personal experience using systemics on a commercial scale having been the owner of several agricultural businesses in the Northeast.
In the 1990's on two separate occasions I witnessed complete colony collapse of my bees. The first incident loosing over a half a million bees that foraged on two acres of potted perennials which were treated with Imidacloprid. The second time I lost several hives to a neighbors Grubex control treated clover lawn. After seeing the total collapse of the hives we stopped using Imidacloprid and all other systemic pesticides. I no longer use any pesticides, or biocides and now practice sustainable organic methods of agriculture.
My concerns include Colony Collapse Disorder of honey bees and the threat systemic pesticides pose to bees, other pollinating insects, nectar feeding birds and insects, food and public health. An immediate ban on the use of neonicotinoid pesticides is urgently needed to save the above mentioned creatures from extinction and to protect the public health. Systemic pesticides i.e. Imidacloprid renders all parts of plants toxic including the plants pollen and nectar and kills countless numbers of bees annually. It's one of the most toxic insecticides to honeybees with a contact acute lethal dose (LD50) of 0.078 ug a.i./bee and an acute oral LD50 of 0.0039 ug a.i./bee.
Clothianidin and Imidacloprid are not the only systemic pesticide killing bees, all systemic pesticides kill bees and Bayer systemics are the largest killer of bees, insects and nectar feeding birds on the planet. Temik and Imidacloprid are the most popular systemic pesticides used in agriculture around the world. They are toxic to bees, birds, animals including humans. They are commonly found in some of your favorite foods if you are not eating a totally organic diet.
Systemic pesticides like Imidacloprid are registered for use on: coffee, peanuts, peaches, strawberries, bananas, grapes, lettuce, eggplant, tomatoes, beets, cabbage, broccoli, cucumbers, melons, potatoes, rice, hops, grains and other food crops as well as cotton. Imidacloprid is now injected into orange and other citrus trees at extremely high rates, a practice which began in South Africa. Orange juice and its imports should be rigorously tested for pesticide contamination.
Testing has shown that both peanuts and peanut oil may be contaminated with Temik and or Imidacloprid pesticide. Peanut allergies may actually be linked to these systemics. Both of these chemicals may cause serious health problems. Cases of Anaphylactic shock are well documented. The presentation of anaphylaxis can vary with many symptoms due to the systemic effects of the release of histamine. Symptoms develop over minutes to hours. Common areas affected include: skin (80% to 90%), respiratory (70%), gastrointestinal (30% to 45%), heart and vasculature (10% to 45%), and central nervous system (10% to 15%) Sesame seeds, wheat, grains, and other nuts may also contain these systemics.
Temik originally manufactured by Union Carbide is a highly toxic aldicarb pesticide and in humans also causes weakness, blurred vision, headache, nausea, tearing, sweating, and tremors. It can paralyze the respiratory system, it is bio-cumulative and in high doses is fatal. Temik has been the systemic of choice followed by Imadachloprid. Worldwide sales of Temik will cease by Dec. 31, 2014 and use in the US on cotton and peanuts will end by August 2018. However, food entering the USA from foreign sources may still carry Temik contamination.
Imidacloprid systemic insecticide from BAYER is one of the most widely used pesticides on the planet with distribution in over 100 countries. Exposure to this pesticide can lead to poisoning which symptoms include vomiting, abdominal pain, headache and diarrhea, (mild poisoning) to respiratory arrest and fatal ventricular fibrillation. Co-ingestions with an organophosphate pesticide is more hazardous than imidacloprid ingestion alone. If you have eaten a combination of food that might have contained both Imidacloprid and an organophosphate pesticide you could be the victim of synergistic poisoning which is greater than either pesticide alone.
Imidacloprid and its metabolites penetrate the blood-brain barrier and is neurotoxic. The liver is the principal target organ demonstrated by hepatic necrosis in rats and dogs. Elevated levels of serum enzymes, and alteration of clinical chemistry parameters including triglycerides, cholesterol and blood clotting time have been observed.
Morphological effects including testicular degeneration in rats and dogs; atrophy of the thyroid gland and bone marrow have been found. Imidacloprid induces hepatic mixed-function oxidases. Sub-chronic exposure of dogs to imidacloprid resulted in neurological symptoms i.e. severe tremors. Studies of imidacloprid show its effect on reproduction. "Pregnant rabbits fed Imidacloprid between the sixth and eighteenth days of pregnancy caused an increase frequency of miscarriages and number of offspring with abnormal skeletons. The effects were observed at dose levels of 72mg/kg per day. In rats, a two-generation feeding study, found rats fed imidacloprid gave birth to smaller offspring with weight reduction seen at a dose of 19 mg/kg per day." Caroline Cox, Imidacloprid, Journal of Pesticide Reform, Spring 2001
Imidacloprid is the most widely used neonicotinoid insecticide in the world, 20,000 thousand tons currently being produced annually for agriculture. That's enough Imidacloprid to contaminate between 160-235 million acres of food cropland. It is becoming the pesticide of choice in over 100 countries. Besides vegetables, grains and fruit some of its metabolites have been found in milk, meat, chicken and eggs from animals feeding on grains grown using the pesticide. European countries have begun banning the poisons, and some bee populations are recovering. It is sold to homeowners in lawn care products to kill grubs as Grubex (Scott products and others) and as a systemic houseplant insecticide. It is also used by veterinarians on dogs and cats, sold to the public as Advantage flea and tick medication.
As a scientist I urge you to immediately ban the use of systemic pesticides for use on food, animals and outdoor flowering crops. All parts of the plant, pollen and nectar are toxic to all life forms feeding and foraging on contaminated plants including butterflies, bees, other pollinating insects and nectar feeding birds. Use of this pesticide on animals constitutes cruelty by poisoning with known destructive health consequences.
This catastrophic demise of bee colonies, pollinating insects, nectar feeding birds, butterflies and cruelty to animals must end. To continue to put ourselves and our children at risk from a food supply contaminated by these systemic pesticides is unconscionable. I urge you to act now.
Anthony Samsel is a member of the Union of Concerned Scientists, the Collaborative on Health and the Environment and a retired consultant to Arthur D. Little, Inc
Readers are encouraged to take action by writing and sending letters to Tom Vilsac at the USDA and Lisa Jackson at the EPA demanding an immediate ban on all systemic pesticides.