An article by George Monbiot, Another Silent Spring in the Guardian on 16th July drew my attention to a recent paper in the prestigious journal Nature showing a strong correlation between neonicotinoid concentrations and the decline of insectivorous bird populations. The researchers conclude:
Our results suggest that the impact of neonicotinoids on the natural environment is even more substantial than has recently been reported and is reminiscent of the effects of persistent insecticides in the past. Future legislation should take into account the potential cascading effects of neonicotinoids on ecosystems.
Neonicotinoids are a class of powerful neuro-active insecticides chemically similar to nicotine. In response to growing concerns about their impact on honey bees in particular, the EU asked the European Food Safety Authority EFSA) in January 2013. In response, the EU recommended their restriction across the EU. In April, 15 of the 27 EU member states voted to restrict their use for two years from 1st December 2014 — the UK voted against. Monbiot’s argument is that we have to act quickly to ban this pesticide as it has such devastating impact.
note: The image at the top of the page was taken by Tim Parkinson.