Neonicotinoid seed treatments provide little benefit to crops, US pressure group claims

Controversy has raged for some time over neonicotinoid pesticides' allegedly harmful effect on pollinating insects, leading to an EU ban on three such compounds used as seed treatments in arable crops last year.

Bumblebee on oilseed rape - image:Dean Morley
Bumblebee on oilseed rape - image:Dean Morley

But the Center for Food Safety (CFS), which describes itself as "a non-profit public interest and environmental advocacy membership organization", has compiled a report bringing together 19 articles from scientific journals on the relationship between neonicotinoid treatments and actual yields of four major arable crops in the USA.

"Numerous studies show neonicotinoid seed treatments do not provide significant yield benefits in many contexts," the report stated. "European reports of crop yields being maintained even after regional neonicotinoid bans corroborate this finding."

It argued that neonicotinoids are "massively overused" in the US without benefiting yields, and that "pre-sterilizing" fields in this way rendered integrated pest management "obsolete for many major field crops".

It called on the US government's Environmental Protection Agency to "suspend all existing registrations of neonicotinoid seed treatment products whose costs and benefits have not been adequately weighed until this accounting is completed". 

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