Review of neonicotinoids’ effects on human health finds few studies, ‘methodologically weak findings’


[Editor’s note: Nate Seltenrich covers science and the environment from Petaluma, CA. His work has appeared in High Country News, Sierra, Yale Environment 360, Earth Island Journal, and other regional and national publications. This article is based on a study, Effects of Neonicotinoid Pesticide Exposure on Human Health: A Systematic Review, published in the activist journal Environmental Health Perspectives.]

Prior to 2000, neonicotinoid chemicals were virtually unknown, by farmers or anyone else. They have since become the most widely used class of agricultural insecticides on the planet. With their rise has come evidence they are contributing to devastating losses of honeybees, yet despite widespread human exposure through fruits and vegetables, however, little research has been conducted on potential effects on human health, according to a review in EHP.

[Senior author Melissa] Perry and colleagues initiated their review by searching the peer-reviewed literature for epidemiological studies published between 2005 and 2015 that addressed human health effects of neonicotinoids. What they found was surprising, Perry says: A total of just eight studies met their parameters. Half of those addressed acute exposures, including accidental or intentional self-poisoning, and half addressed chronic environmental exposures.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency currently considers neonicotinoids to be of relatively low risk to mammals, [pesticide expert and former Washington State University professor Charles] Benbrook says. However, while the studies required for pesticide registration showed these compounds to be less toxic to mammals than to insects, toxic effects were nevertheless noted in animal studies. More recent laboratory and ecological field studies indicate that neonicotinoids can have adverse effects on mammals at sublethal doses, and some neonicotinoid metabolites may be as or more toxic, compared with the parent compound.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: Catching Up with Popular Pesticides: More Human Health Studies Are Needed on Neonicotinoids