The environmental movement has been prolific and gaining momentum in recent years. Being green and health conscience has become more than a fad in Western culture with no end in sight, and with good reason: humans, animals and the environment are at risk. One recent finding supports this after it was found that commonly used pesticides may act as neurotoxins in developing nervous systems in people in addition to depleting an unintentional insect population.
The European Food and Safe Authority are so concerned that they set a two year moratorium and are enforcing guidelines as to what levels of exposure are acceptable for two specific insecticides: acetamiprid and imidacloprid. Though the UK tried to appeal this decision this office represents the European Union thus enforced across the continent. These relatively new pesticides may specifically affect the development of neurons and brain structures active in learning and memory, as preliminary results showed in newborn rat studies. More data needs to be collected in order to develop appropriate thresholds, which is alarming in and of itself since these health risks have not been regulated enough prior.
In 2002, US’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) noted that acetamiprid is applied on leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, pome fruits, grapes, cotton and ornamental plants and flowers to control sucking type insects, with restrictions of about half a pound per acre per season. Unfortunately under health findings it is noted to cause “generalized, nonspecific toxicity and did not appear to have specific target organ toxicity.” So though it was deemed harmful the extent was not pursued and currently acetamiprid is used on cherries, peaches, nectarines, apricots, peas, plums and tree nuts both national and as an export from the US. Of those, the EU refuses tree nuts and apricots from America because levels of the toxin exceed appropriate levels.
It is also possible that the widespread uses of these neonicorticoids have contributed to the decline in bees seen in recent years. The ongoing mysterious mass loss of bees that could have an immense domino effect globally may have an answer in these very same products. These toxins are thought to not kill the bees outright, but it is thought that they impair and disorientate them leading to their demise in mass or make them more susceptible to viruses. This year an Oregon state representative will introduce legislation to ban certain neonicotinoids, including imidacloprid, to reduce anthropogenic bee deaths.
There has been growing support in the United States to ban the neonicotinoid pesticides through lawsuits and legislations, and hopefully the US will follow Europe’s sustainable lead and not risk its inhabitants, big and small, soon.
Thank you to OCEAN Researcher Brigid McKenna