Do farmers really need neonic insecticides? Study sparks debate over pesticides’ future

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Seeds treated with neonicotinoid insecticide

New research has found a widely used and increasingly controversial insecticide has “negligible” benefits for commercially grown soybeans. Pesticide makers and farmers disagree.The insecticide, called neonicotinoid, has come under fire in recent years after scientists discovered it might be killing honey bees, monarch butterflies, certain birds and aquatic life.

“We’ve documented the costs and the downsides of neonicotinoids,” said Christian Krupke, an entomology professor at Purdue University, who was one of the 23 researchers who authored a study on the topic.”So the question we asked with this study was, what are the benefits? …. And our findings are that the benefits are negligible.”

The compiled results showed that, on average, neonicotinoid-treated crops produced an average of 2 additional bushels per acre than non-treated crops. When compared to the added cost farmers paid for the insecticide, the payoff is slim, the study concluded.

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The companies that produce the insecticide and the farmers who use it were quick to refute that verdict …. These are farmers like Wayne Fredricks, who grows corn and soybeans in northern Iowa.

“I read through the study,” Fredricks said. “It points out that there are certain areas where neonic use is more responsive than others, and we fall right in the middle of one of those areas.”

Read full, original article: Farmers get ‘negligible’ benefit from insecticide that may kill bees, researchers say

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