| July 24
July 24 A class of insecticides popular with
corn and soybean farmers in the U.S. Midwest but feared as a
factor in the decline of U.S. honey bee colonies and other crop
pollinators, has been found to be widespread through rivers and
streams in Iowa, according to a government study released on
The study, released by the U.S. Department of the Interior,
U.S. Geological Survey, marks the first broad-scale
investigation of multiple neonicotinoid insecticides in
waterways in the Midwestern U.S., and is one of the first
conducted within the entire United States, according to the
In the report, 79 water samples from across Iowa, the top
U.S. corn-producing state, were collected during the 2013
growing season. Researchers said the use of neonicotinoid
insecticides has grown in recent years, and they found them to
be both "mobile and persistent" with "a strong pulse of
neonicotinoids associated with crop planting" in streams.
The researchers said the broad use of the neonicotinoids,
"needs to be closely examined in relation to environmental
Similar studies by the USGS have found many other types of
common agricultural chemicals in stream samples in Iowa, but
researchers said there was a "substantially greater
neonicotinoid detection frequency" observed in this study
compared to historical detections of other insecticides.
Neonicotinoids, also known as neonics, are sold by
agrichemical companies to boost yields of staple crops, but are
also used widely on annual and perennial plants in lawns and
gardens. Neonics, chemically similar to nicotine, are commonly
applied to the seeds before they are planted.
As use of the neonics has grown, some scientists have linked
the insecticides to large losses in honey bee colonies that are
considered critical for the production of many U.S. crops. Honey
bees pollinate plants that produce about a quarter of U.S.
consumer foods, according to the U.S. government.
Many agrichemical companies, including Bayer,
whose neonic products are top sellers around the world, say
there are a mix of factors killing off the bees and that neonics
are important tools for boosting crop production.
(Reporting by Carey Gillam in Kansas City; editing by Gunna