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Neonicotinoid insecticides threaten birds? Friends of the Earth botches the science, entomologist says

| | May 1, 2019

Usually the Friends of the Earth emails are about some environmental cause that makes me chuckle. They’re always on the edge of what seems possible, logical and perhaps true. Usually the emails don’t cross the line into pure fantasyland.

[Editor’s note: Tom Bechman is a columnist for Farm Progress.]

Then this email arrived:

Dear Tom,
A single corn kernel coated with neonicotinoid pesticides can kill a bird.
Neonics are contributing to massive declines of bees and other pollinators — threatening one in three bites of food we eat.
Scientists are warning that if we don’t act to protect insects, we could face a “catastrophic collapse of nature’s ecosystems.”

Related article:  Beet production drops, plant diseases threaten comeback following EU's neonicotinoid ban, farmers say

That statement doesn’t pass the “smell test” for me, or the logical, common-sense test. That’s especially true when farmers tell me birds still go down corn rows along woods occasionally and pluck out kernels. Where are the dead birds?

This email was over the line. I needed to know if, in fact, one kernel coated with this pesticide could possibly kill a bird. John Obermeyer, Purdue University Extension entomologist, answered my call. His answer? No, it does not make sense.

Read full, original article: Some myths too big to let slide

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