July 13, 2014


Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 7:26 pm

Birds with babies in tree nestBee pollinating flower“Only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realize we cannot eat money” – Cree Indian Proverb



Over a year ago I wrote a blog concerning the link between dying birds, missing/dying bees and even dying butterflies to pesticides. Specifically speaking, a particular class of pesticides, known as neonicotinoids, is recently getting more attention due to new research studies. A peer-reviewed Netherlands study published July 9, 2014, in nature.com shows data linking the sharp fall in farmland bird populations in areas where neonicotinoid pollution was highest. Sparrows, swallows, and starlings were among the most affected. Since 95% of neonicotinoids end up in a much wider environment after applied to crops, insects that birds rely on for food are killed. Hans de Kroon, an ecologist at Radboud University, in the Netherlands, says that water pollution levels of just 20 nanograms of neonicotinoid per litre led to a 30% fall in bird numbers over 10 years, but some water had contamination levels 50 times higher. YIKES!


Further research published in the journal Functional Ecology on July 7, 2014, also reveals more evidence regarding the damage caused by neonicotinoids in relation to the natural ability of bees to collect food. Exposure to neonicotinoids seems to prevent bees from being able to learn essential skills and tracking these bees showed they gathered less pollen.

A blog I wrote and published last year on May 22, 2013 talks about missing and dying birds, bees and Monarch butterflies. There is a section describing what neonicotinoids are and how they can be negatively affecting these animals and our food supply.

Here is part of that blog to provide a background. This year’s studies only substantiates earlier studies and further confirms the danger of these deadly pesticides.

{NOTE: In addition to the recent relation with bird decline to neonicotinoids, birds are also challenged by a warming climate}

“Analyzing over 20 years of data and in a peer-reviewed study published in PLOS ONE, researchers concluded that pesticide use, not habitat loss, was the most important factor of major declines in the population of U. S. grassland birds.

Results of several studies say the timing migration patterns of birds around the world have changed since the world has gotten warmer. Birds are migrating earlier facing adverse conditions and limited food and water resources. Environmentally related factors like sunlight and temperature determine the timing of when a bird will start to migrate.  Hummingbirds are a perfect example. If hummingbirds are prompted to migrate earlier than usual this year, they could be in trouble. The climates they have to migrate through might affect them negatively.

In a published journal study of 48 million bird observations, see this 2012 Science Daily article to learn more.

bees on honeycells

THE  BEES  (“Ain’t Mis BEEhavin’ “on their own)

Coincidentally, the bursting growth of neonicotinoids since 2005 has coincided with the rising deaths in honey bees, also known as COLONY COLLAPSE DISORDER. Beekeepers are beginning to enter panic mode since as much as 50% of the hives have been wiped out. Without bees, there goes most of our fruit and vegetable crops. Call me selfish but I like to eat apples, honey, blueberries, almonds etc; At least 1/3 of the world’s crops rely on the pollination from honey bees.

“If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would only have four years of life left.” –Albert Einstein

What the heck are neonicotinoids?

A nicotine based pesticide used in GMO (genetically modified organisms) crops.

  • A class of neuro-active insecticides related to nicotine and can pose a danger to both humans and insects.
  • They affect the central nervous system in insects while affecting both central and peripheral nervous systems in mammals. Low exposure causes nervous stimulation and high levels block receptors causing paralysis and ultimately death.
  • These pesticides are directly placed in the soil of the plant. The plant becomes poisoned with toxins present in the roots, leaves, stems and pollen.

GMO crops – a health issue

Last week, the European Commission has proposed a 2 year ban on certain pesticides believed to contribute to honey bee deaths. Needless to say,  pesticide companies deny a link to the bee deaths.

When GMOs were first introduced in 1996, one big selling point was that these new crops would reduce the number of pesticides. For a while, it appeared to have worked. Studies in 2006, 2007 and 2008 cited decreases in pesticides. Then U. S. farmers started to complain about having to use more and more pesticides to try to eliminate the newly created   “SUPERWEEDS” – (herbicide resistant weeds) and the hard-to-kill insects. It turns out that GE crops led to an increase, not decrease, of pesticide use from 1996 through 2011; a whopping 404 million pounds more pesticides! Recently,  farmers have been feeling a need to return to using high risk older herbicides on corn, soy and cotton crops to try to eliminate the superweeds. Farmers also are forced to use the GMO seeds since Monsanto owns most of all patented GMO seeds under the brand name Roundup  Ready.

A study published last year at Purdue University in Indiana found evidence that neonicotinoid coated corn seeds generated dust that traveled beyond the fields where the seeds were planted. The researchers found toxins in the soil as well as the pollen collected by the bees for food. These neonics were present on dead bees collected for study.

September, 2012, Charles Benbrook published this peer-reviewed paper and proved a steady increase of pesticides and how weeds were developing a resistance to Roundup  Ready.”



In a June, 2014, article in The Guardian, an international team of scientists warn us about the use of insecticides and how our world’s food supply is at risk. Also noted is how current regulations have basically failed to prevent the poisoning of most habitats. 

“The evidence is very clear. We are witnessing a threat to the productivity of our natural and farmed environment equivalent to that posed by organophosphates or DDT,” said Jean-Marc Bonmatin, of the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) in France, one of the 29 international researchers who conducted the four-year assessment. “Far from protecting food production, the use of neonicotinoid insecticides is threatening the very infrastructure which enables it.” He said the chemicals imperiled food supplies by harming bees and other pollinators, which fertilize about three-quarters of the world’s crops, and the organisms that create the healthy soils which the world’s food requires in order to grow.”


Created in a lab around 1873/1874, DDT was first used  by the military to fight malaria and other deadly diseases. It was successful and then became commonly used as a pesticide to fight insects by farmers and controlling pests in buildings. It took almost 100 years to ban DDT in the United States by the EPA in 1972. During the 1950’s, marine biologist/conservationist Rachel Carson, started to pay close attention to pesticides and their affects on the environment. Her book, SILENT SPRING (1962) brought environmental awareness to the American people, which ultimately led to a nationwide ban on DDT.

  • Interfering with normal nerve impulses, DDT affects the nervous systems of insects and certain animals.
  • DDT is toxic to animals if eaten.
  • Lab animals exposed to DDT develop tremors, convulsions, lack of coordination and liver tumors.
  • Large doses of DDT causes liver lesions in animals.
  • People exposed to DDT have confirmed reports to dizziness, nausea, confusion, headaches, vomiting, fatigue, lack of coordination, prickling sensation of the mouth and tremors.
  • DDT causes mice and rats to either become sterile or have embryos fail to attach to the uterus. Offspring have a higher mortality rate.
  • DDT causes thinning of eggshells in birds.
  • DDT accumulates in fatty tissues of insects, wildlife and humans and is then excreted in the urine, feces, and breast milk.
  • Animals that eat other animals, with DDT in them, also accumulate the DDT in their own fatty tissue.
  • DDT is moderately toxic to amphibians like frogs, toads, and salamanders. Young amphibians are more sensitive to affects of DDT than the adults.
  • DDT is highly toxic to aquatic animals and fish cannot detect DDT in water.
  • DDT can still be manufactured in the U.S. but only sold to foreign countries. Many tropical countries still use DDT to control malaria. The only exceptions DDT can be used in the U.S are for public health emergengies involving insect diseases.


DDT persists in the environment. The following chart shows a progressive percentage in degradation. The soil half-life for DDT is from 2 to 15 years. In an aquatic environment, the half-life of DDT is about 150 years! See chart below.

Half-life is the time required for half of the DDT compund to degrade.

1 half-life = 50% degraded

2 half-lives = 75% degraded

3 half-lives = 88% degraded

4 half-lives = 94% degraded

5 half-lives = 97% degraded

NOTE:  The amount of DDT chemical remaining after a half-life will always depend on the amount of the DDT chemical originally applied.


As with DDT……are we destined to repeat another 100 year history with neonicotinoids?  Unfortunately, BIG agri-chemical companies have the BIG money fighting to keep their pesticides on the market. Sometimes the only solution is a grassroots movement and demand from the public to ban these harmful pesticides.