Neonicotinoids, the pesticides linked to the mass die-off of bees, are now found in stream and well samples across the U.S.. These widely used pesticides aren’t just killing the bees and butterflies. They’re also killing insects, which are critical to the food chain. But what are they doing to us? U.S. regulatory agencies have set what they say are “safe” limits for neonic residues on our food, including baby foods. But as Scott Hoffman Black, executive director of The Xerces Society, points out, no one is studying the long-term, potentially carcinogenic effect, neonics have on humans.
Scott Hoffman Black, Executive Director of The Xerces Society, speaks about the impact of neonicotinoid pesticides on the environment. “We believe because they’re so toxic, they’re so long-lived, they’re found inside plants but readily move into water, that we could really see big ecosystem changes because of these chemicals,” he says. He says that neonicotinoids, now found in stream and well samples across the United States, are not only affecting pollinators like bees and butterflies but killing insects — the underpinning of the food chain. And that affects birds, fish, and other wildlife. “The chemical companies are really running the show here,” Black says. He questions whether a chemical closely related to nicotine – a known carcinogen – should be so widely used on food crops until further safety studies are done. “It’s not just about the environment. It’s that we are not taking care of humans.”